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Posts Tagged ‘respect’

My daughters’ sporting events are entertaining in more ways than just the action on the fields…or court, in this case. 

These parents and teachers and other related spectators in the stands teach me so much.  Two women in their 80s sit in the front row doing a better job of coaching than the actual coaches–spirited and tough, but nice about it.  And they know the game rules better than the refs!  Two single moms (other than me) sit physically separated from all affiliations with a purposeful veil of silence around them in the midst of this noisy gym.  The babies gradually become more nervous, whistle after whistle, buzzer after buzzer.  The teenagers have their heads buried in iPods and cell phones and other digital devices.  And the players on the bench all look bored.

About halfway through the second quarter–with the score 0-2 in our team’s favor–I overhear two mothers in front of me gossiping about one of the single moms.  “She’s always so quiet.  She comes in, takes her seat and doesn’t talk to anyone or shout out to her kid or anything.  And she never even cheers,” says one.  “I hear she spends all her time working or holed up at home with her daughters,” says the other.  “When the girls are with their dad, no one knows what she does.  I mean it’s like she disappears. She must be a cold and selfish.  After all, her husband is already remarried and expecting!”  They steal sly glances over at a beautiful woman sitting quietly and tall apart from everyone else.

I feel my blood boil as my mind immediately fires defense after defense for the single mom.  I can’t help it.  I take a deep breath, close my eyes and gather myself. 

Their attention returns to the game briefly before I see them begin to look over at the loner again.  I’m startled to hear a throat clear loudly, but quickly realize it’s me.  And I’m about to interrupt.  “Excuse me.”  They both look up to where I’m sitting, slightly startled. I’m always surprised when this sort of thing happens.  I watch myself as from a great distance.  I feel the warmth of my smile and genuinely admire the infusion of fairy dust around my words.  “I heard she’s an upstanding and influential member of the community who is just painfully shy.  I think it’s marvelous that she spends her time with her daughters.  And how lovely that she doesn’t feel the need to air her laundry during her own time!  What a wonderful role model for all of us single women.”   I scan my own body for signs that I’m angry while also scanning the women’s reaction to my little lecture (as Meg would call it).  I only feel the twinkle in my eye and warmth in my chest.  Of course I know nothing about this woman whom I’ve never seen before, but I can’t help it. 

Still watching the women I’m acutely aware of the look that passes between them and wonder which they decided on:  I’m being a bitch, or I’m giving them the really useful information to consider.  It doesn’t matter.  The conversation stopps, and they quit looking over at their prey.

The incident is forgotten until I return home to find a message from a friend who’s very upset.  She’s had a bit of a rough go the past few months and has been doing a marvelous job of keeping herself together.  But apparently today her best friend told her that her problem is that she has confidence still.  “She said, ‘You need to doubt your ability more because you have so much to work on…’  Is it true?” she asks fearfully “Should I doubt myself and everything I’m working towards?  Am I on the wrong path?” 

Now just a minute.  Don’t we all have much to work on?  When Jo March confides to Frederich in Little Women that “it’s just…there is much emphasis on perfecting oneself, and I am hopelessly flawed,” Frederich says (it’s a moment forever burned in my memory from childhood as the first moment I fell in love with a man…albeit a fictional character…and the first of many at that: Alec Ramsey, Edmund Dantes, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Francisco d’Anconia…) “I think we are all hopelessly flawed.” 

So I want to know, is there every a time when you should doubt yourself because someone else tells you they know you better?

Perhaps it wasn’t right of me to say anything in either situation.  Perhaps I shouldn’t say anything now.  These were not my battles. 

But it is my war!  And it’s my war for two very important reasons:

  1. Before the clock struck twelve and we entered 2010, I made the civility revolution my cause–where success is defined as people acknowledging and treating ALL other people with respect.  I’m not talking gender or skin color, religious affiliation or sexual orientation.  It’s MUCH more basic than that.  I’m talking about people you encounter everyday, moment-by-moment.  See them, acknowledge them, respect their humanity…and respect yourself.
  2. My daughters.  Not only do they belong to my civility revolution (I intend that they be front line leaders in this war), they should never have to repeat my mistakes if they can learn from them through stories.  And as with most everyone else, I’ve been told by people who supposedly had my best interest at heart (bosses, my parents, friends and lovers) that they knew me better than I knew myself.  Then, I listened as they rattled off their litany of my “faults.”   No problem there.  It’s good to be aware of what other people think.  However, when your heart screams “IT’S NOT TRUE!  That isn’t what I think/believe/feel/know,” don’t ever doubt it.

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

Part of my daily intention.  Perhaps though I should be clear, you should look good and talk wisely.  It’s a lesson we’ve all learned delightfully thanks to Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady.  But it’s also worth noting that you have no control over others.  If Henry Higgins is determined to see you as a common flower girl, so you shall be one.  It’s another musical to which I want to turn your attention, oh gentle reader, for the truth about you. 

The quintessential Fairy Tale, Cinderella. 

Remember when Cinderella was left alone in the garden with her once-beautiful dreams in shreds to match her once-beautiful dress?  She cries.  And she says, “It’s just no use.  No use at all.  I can’t believe.  Not anymore.  There’s nothing left to believe in.  Nothing.” 

Well, any of you who knows me well knows I espouse that there is NO Fairy Godmother.  And it’s true.  Just like with any book, any lesson, any story, you must really examine the message to move beyond the top layer.  I like to think of it as Wonka candy.  You can see all those chocolate bars wrapped in brown branding, but you must open it to find the golden ticket.  So too with stories. 

So too with you.

You are truly the only expert in the subject of “You.”  You know what’s under your wrapper.  Every blessing, every curse, every scar, every ticklish spot, every beauty mark.  That’s your golden ticket.  So you better cherish it.  All of it.  Now, that doesn’t mean don’t strive to be better.  A key factor of knowing who you are is knowing who you want to be.  You are responsible for making that happen.  Charlie wouldn’t have won his golden ticket without paying attention.  Cinderella wouldn’t have ever be able to go to the ball if she hadn’t stepped up when the invitation arrived and claimed her rightful spot.   

But she was torn down, just like all of us will be at some point.  And here’s where the beauty of Cinderalla’s journey offers us hope.

It starts with the magic words.  Not “bibidi-bobidi-boo” or “Fol-de-rol and fiddle dee dee and fiddley faddley foddle.”  It’s the first words from the Fairy Godmother:

“Nonsense, child.  If you’d lost all your faith, I couldn’t be here….And here I am.”

That’s right, the magic resides in you.  Just like most fairy tales tell you…because it’s true. 

And know, oh gentle reader, I have faith in you too.

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Now that we know our value, our needs and wants, everyone elses’ needs and wants, and we have evaluated all the possibilities, we can negotiate. With respect.

Respect is defined as worthy of regard. That means I’ve put some effort in knowing about and understanding you and your motives.

When I talk about negotiation I’m sure many of you still are thinking that it’s a game with a winner and a loser. Stop it. There are no losers in good negotiation. In fact, if done properly, negotiation will end in win-win situations that continue to increase the level and chance of positive outcomes for future interactions.

It’s called building a relationship.

I can hear some of you scoffing, groaning, even rolling your eyes. Many of you see that emotionally-charged word and think “I don’t want to be in a relationship with this person/these people!” Relax. By relationship I only mean that you are building some level of understanding and consistency of behavior that helps you best determine your future interactions.

The flip side of not using respect is what many of you might refer to as manipulation. That is, “I’m doing something I figure will not benefit or help you, even may do you harm, because I can get something out of it.”

My youngest daughter, whom I mentioned earlier, knows all about manipulation. She knows what she wants and needs and goes after it intensely. Sometimes there are tears, yelling and mean words involved. So let me stop you here with another definition. When someone is willing to go to any lengths to harm themselves or another to get what they want, it’s called terrorism.

And we do NOT negotiate with terrorists.

Should you face a terrorist situation, one in which you find your needs and wants completely disregarded, one in which you are not being treated with respect, one in which your personal value continues to be threatened, you must stop the discussion in it’s entirety and walk away. Leave the negotiation completely because not only will you not win, you will lose—face, grace, respect, trust, honor, confidence, and many other valuable values.

This is another reason why rule number one is so important. When you know your value you are less likely to face terrorism.

Therefore, my best negotiation-practice advice to you is to continue working to reinforce rule number 1: know your value. The more you can stay connected to your value and why you have high value, the better your chances that you will have successful negotiations, relationships and growth throughout your life.

Next week we’ll start exploring where and how these negotiation rules can be used.  I think you’ll find the possibilities limitless, and, hopefully, you’ll find the stories amusing.

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