16 Tips to ‘Respect the Dignity’ of an individual

“Human dignity is the same for all human beings:
when I trample on the dignity of another, I am trampling on my own.”
-Pope Francis

When my book, Quantum Leap Thinking: An Owner’s Guide to the Mind was published in 1996, I hoped most individuals would conclude that we are all connected. I wanted people to understand that their actions, beliefs and values have a huge impact on family, community and business, and realize to embrace and live from positive values is of primary importance to live an exceptional life.

Unfortunately, this has not come to pass, and divisiveness has taken its toll on even the closest of relationships.

More than a decade of research went in to identifying the five major ‘Quantum Leap’ values that define and make up the fabric of living a life of love, joy, motivation, compassion, and service.

I acknowledge that everyone has values. But what if they lack personal integrity? What if they have no sense of fair play and want to win at all costs? What if they are greedy and self-serving, and don’t care how their actions impact others? Hundreds of dictators and tyrants are proof of that.

Didn’t a sense of dedication, commitment, and loyalty play a role in the power of their visions? What about street gangs, motorcycle gangs, and skinheads? They also have a value structure.

However, to reach an exceptional level in your personal or organizational life, there are five specific global principles, or core values, that must become part of a personal vision. Embracing and living these five core values of a Quantum Leap Thinker (Respect, Accountability, Integrity, Perseverance & Discipline) is an on-going process.

“When it comes to human dignity, we cannot make compromises.”
-Angela Merkel

I’m going to address what I consider the single most important QLT value – Having respect for the dignity of the individual. This value governs the way you communicate with and the way you hold, see and experience others. This essential value acts as a springboard to charity, compassion, love, fairness, kindness, and service.

I ask you to summon the courage and challenge your assumptions about what dignity and relationships mean to you. You will discover, exponentially, your connection to the world around you and the basic need for interdependence. As you break out of the self-created ‘illusion of separateness’, you will, as Einstein said, ‘‘Widen your circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.’’

From the awareness of our interconnectedness flows compassion and empathy. Respect for the dignity of the individual is the antidote to prejudice, jealousy, envy, manipulation, and deceit.

“Dignity” is the right of a person to be valued and respected for their own sake and to be treated ethically. The term may also be used to describe personal conduct, as in “behaving with dignity.”

How can you respect human dignity? I will share with what I have discovered through years of coaching and the opinions I elicited from numerous people for this article. While many of these tips may seem obvious, they are often overlooked or disregarded. While simple to understand, it takes a ‘shift of thinking’ to make them part of your everyday life.

The following tips to showing respect may sometimes be a challenge. Be kind. Set aside your ego and be courteous. Keep in mind: You can always walk away from an extremely negative situation.

This is by no means a final list of possibilities but rather a ‘roadmap’ to jumpstart your awareness.

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right—for you’ll be criticized anyway.
You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”
—ELEANOR ROOSEVELT

1. Begin with you. Consider how you see others and how others see you.

2. Keep your word. While this should seem obvious, people often say they will do something and then either forget or ignore what they have said. You are your word. You disrespect the dignity of another when you break your word and it subconsciously erodes the trust people have in you.

3. Be congruent with what you say and what you do. Do your actions match your words? Do your actions match your core values? These are important elements of integrity.

4. Tell your truth or don’t say anything. It is deceptively easy to lie. We may lie to protect someone, so we don’t hurt people’s feelings, or because we think it is for their own good. Lies are told out of fear; lies are told to manipulate; lies are told when we bargain. The reasons we invent and justify for lying are endless. You may be thinking that there are necessary lies, little white lies. But regardless of how compelling the reasons, a lie is never justified. Choosing to live with integrity is a private, personal, and powerful choice. Truth is your weapon against fear.

5. Seek understanding. I cannot say it better than Stephen Covey in his bestselling book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Seeking real understanding affirms the other person and what they have to say. That’s what they want, to feel heard and to be respected.

6. Listen and ask questions. Listening shows respect. Asking questions signifies you are listening, and it gives you information about how others want to be treated. Treat others the way they want to be treated and, in order to really listen, you have to empty out your ego.

7. Always communicate respectfully. Practice politeness, courtesy and kindness. Communicating respectfully means you do not overcriticize and refrain from talking about others ‘behind’ their back.

8. Smile. It is true that a smile is contagious and changes our brain for the better. Try it and observe the reaction you receive. And, yes, it’s difficult when you’re wearing a mask and easy while on Zoom.

9. Say “Hello.” A greeting makes a huge difference to many people.

10. Say “Thank you.” Gratitude can be a miracle worker for connection and, being grateful changes your brain for the better.

11. Perform random acts of kindness without expecting anything in return. This is one of my personal favorites. I love to watch people light up when a kind act is done without an ulterior motive.

12. Respect personal space. This is especially important in the present-day circumstances. Think of your personal space as the air between your body and an invisible shield, or bubble, you have formed around yourself for any relationship.

13. Treat people equally. Personally, I am as comfortable with a janitor or waitress as I am with a celebrity or the CEO of a highly visible company. Treating people equally is a choice.

14. Build cultural awareness. Differences are barriers only if we allow them to be.

15. Be flexible. Things don’t always happen as planned. Be like bamboo. Bend with the wind and adapt to changing conditions when necessary.

16. Remember we all make mistakes. Lighten up and do the very best you can. When you don’t, forgive yourself and do better next time you have the opportunity. And – forgive others when they make mistakes.

Please read the 16 tips twice and ponder them as to the choices you make in your life to “respect the dignity of the individual.”

I would greatly appreciate it if you would respond with your insight which I will add to the list. You can email your thoughts to me at James@JamesMapes.com.

IMAGINE THAT!

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