The past Sunday in church we sang a song called My Religion is Kindness and it seemed so appropriate in light of the fact that I've been so cognizant of what appears to be a lack of respect or kindness of late.
Let me begin by saying again people come from their own perception and people define their own integrity and I realize not everyone has the same level of standards in this world and that's okay and yet to some of us, there are certain rules that we feel need to be followed in the professional world.
To be more specific, returning calls and emails in a timely fashion is important to say the least. I attempt to return all calls within 24 hours, answer all emails with 24-48 hours and be prepared for meetings, calls and projects on time. Now things can and do happen, but is it really acceptable for someone on your team not to answer your email for 2 weeks and you need that information to move forward? Is it okay to call this same person and leave a voice mail and it not be answered for two more days....hello out there, have you fallen in a hole and can't get out?
One of my clients is frustrated to no end, that his customer service/sales representative is not responding to customer emails in a timely fashion. I don't blame him. A system has to be put into place where the employee knows what is expected and knows what the consequences are of not meeting those expectations/policies. It is an act of kindness to respond to people. It shows respect for your work and for the person.
Professionals and business leaders are supposed to show respect, right? Where did I pick that up? Did I make it up? Did no one else hear that? Did they not have my parents or what? One of my pet peeves, is that people engage in side conversations during presentations. I was at a retreat last weekend where I heard one of the greatest talks ever on leadership given by a military officer and fighter pilot. Heard is the key word in that sentence because if he had not had a PowerPoint presentation, I would have lost half of what he said due to the fact that 3 people at my table talked the entire time. I think they were more concerned with impressing each other than learning from our speaker and host. Listening is an act of kindness. Paying attention demonstrates respect. Whether I go to a business breakfast, business luncheon or anywhere there is a speaker, there are always a few who seem to think they are at a 'mixer' and talk the entire time.
Another way we show a lack of respect is to arrive late for meetings, and appointments. Always give yourself ten minutes longer than you think it will take you. You never know what traffic will be like. This is something I constantly have to work on with myself. I like to cut it close, to make every minute count and then I have to remind myself that showing up on time is an act of kindness. It shows respect for the person, the company and/or the organization. Be early if you have a part on the program and come prepared.
We can find as many excuses as there are minutes in the day: I got stuck in traffic, today has been Monday all day, the phone rang as I was headed out the door; I forgot the time of the meeting; my dog ate my calendar; I just got fired, my kid ran away. It doesn't matter what the excuse, it's still an excuse. One of my biggest and most unacceptable excuses, is that I'm frustrated and annoyed because people don't think or don't think ahead and kindness seems to take a back seat to the annoyance. It's my problem and still is no reason to be unkind.
Do your RSVP to invitations by the deadline? Do you RSVP at all? Do you think no RSVP is an automatic 'No'? And then if you don't RSVP, you could show up at the last minute, just in case you have nothing better to do? Or if you don't RSVP, you could say you never received the invitation? It is an act of kindness to RSVP either way. There is someone out there who needs to give a head count or plan a meal or reserve a room or get a substitute depending on your answer. Your answer; you are important, they need your input. Your input means they can move on to other priorities.
I used to date someone who called me on respect on occasion, in ways I had never even considered. For example we could just be hanging out at my house and I could walk into a room where he was and ask him a question. His response would be, "Can't you say hello first?" In all honesty, it never occurred to me to say 'hello' to someone who was in the house with me as opposed to just initiating the conversation. People have different perceptions of what is acceptable and what is not, what shows respect and what does not.
Sometimes people just don't think. Sometimes they just don't know. Sometimes they don't care.
Where in your life are you not showing respect, not showing kindness, not coming across in a professional matter? Do you care?