Can a coach coach without respecting others?

Well, I don’t offer this as a tongue twister, but a rhetoric. When you we respect others, why and how? Can we respect others without having respect for ourselves?

What does respect mean? Some of us discussed this in a teleclass. Some said this meant appreciation, some acceptance, some acknowledgment and so on. We feel connected with a person who respects us. We feel valued. We feel good.

Contrariwise, can we accept disrespect or invalidation without feeling depressed and unaccepted? Does lack of explicit respect mean disrespect? When does an expression of respect become flattery?   When do we start using the need for respect as a tool to boost our ego?

Can we  respect those whose values differ greatly from our own? Can we respect  Osama Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein if we have been on the receiving end? If we cannot respect them, can we accept them? If we cannot accept them, can we understand them?Perhaps then there may be fewer Osamas and Saddams in this world.

I found it fascinating when first came into contact with Japanese business people. They would never say no to anything. They would always nod their head and say yes. It took me a while to figure out that what they meant by nodding and saying yes meant that they understood me.  It did not mean they agreed with me. They did not signal that they accepted what i said and now stood ready to do what i proposed.

This cultural difference had frustrated many non-Japanese business people and sabotaged many business negotiations. The deep cultural bedrock of  Japanese traditions dictated that one showed respect to another person’s views by acknowledging that one had heard the other properly. This the person conveyed by nodding and saying yes.

In many other cultures, especially the Western ones, an immediate response to what one disagrees with would be a vigorous shake of the head and  a loud no. What does this achieve? Of course, it conveys unambiguously that you disagree with what the person said. You make it clear that you invalidate the other person. You disrespect the other person. You make the other person, in the oriental context, to lose face.

Why do we disagree so openly and so violently sometimes? Our ego does not allow someone else’s statement to go by us, if we disagree. If we didn’t, our silence may mean acceptance, let alone our nodding and saying yes. Our disagreement and disrespect boosts our ego and invalidates the other.

We use values as a convenient excuse to disagree and disrespect others. We rarely reflect upon many other situations when we let go our values, when sticking to them would inconvenience us.  I may say that one of my core values is to support the underdogs and fight for their rights. How often would i do it if it threatened my life?  Am i ready to become a martyr to a cause?

Respect for others arises from respect for oneself. When we stay fulfilled, when we accept ourselves, when we respect ourselves without reservations, we respect others. We also do not mind if the other person does not show respect to us or shows us disrespect.

Gandhi went to meet the Queen of England dressed in his dhoti. The British pressed called it a loin cloth and called him the naked fakir. Gandhi prevailed and the Queen left India.

A man expressed shock when Abe Lincoln said he polished his own shoes. ‘Oh, my God’ the man exclaimed, ‘ why would you polish your own shoes?’ Lincoln responded, ‘ Whose shoes do you polish?’

These men had enormous self esteem. In fact, they had self-realized. They did not look for acceptance, acknowledgment or respect from others.

I guess they stood up as great coaches.

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