Respect for people

June 9, 02016 · Concepts Developing people

Respect for people is an important part of our underlying concept.

Respect for people does not mean folks sitting around professing only the deepest respect and admiration for one another.

Respect for people does not mean the sort of things people tend to go to when the idea first comes up: things like making sure staff are rewarded well or that the work environment is good.1

These are my min specs for how to do respect for people:

  1. Develop their skills. Give them authority.
    • Help them notice the skills and authority they have.
    • Help them use the skills and authority they have.
  2. Assume good faith.
    • If you can't assume good faith, act as if you could.2
  3. Create space for them to share their ideas, problems, and wisdom.
  4. Show them how their work helps fulfill the organization's purpose.

You gotta roll up your sleeves in order to do this—respect for people is something you do. It's not hard, but it's also not going to happen by magic.

An important note: respect for people is for everybody, not just managers. Every person in an organization can do respect for every other person they work with.

How to start? Well, get some practice. That list is pretty short. Write it down and carry it with you tomorrow. Find an opportunity to do one of these things for one other person, and do it.


  1. These examples—and other things organizations "give to" their people or "do for" their people—are hygiene factors and they are critical. If you don't attend to them, people will leave, or tune out. But they only make people not unhappy, rather than make people truly satisfied.

  2. There are some interior states, like joy, where there's an obvious and easily-noticed difference between experiencing them and faking it. There are others, like bravery, where there's no difference at all. Being brave and "merely" acting as if you were brave, even though you don't feel brave, are the same thing. So if you can't assume good faith about someone, imagine how would treat them if you could, and just do that. You don't have to feel it.

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