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Who I respect and why?

The 16 attributes I seek in others
Blog 140 Lisa 0157 RET V3 2

As many of us start to get serious and strategic about what we want our 2022 to look and feel like, it’s important to know who we want around us and who we want to work for and with.

Now more than ever, we’re finding that clients are talking to us about the leaders they want to work with, rather than the industry or roles they want to be in.

One of the positive things to come out of COVID is that it’s given us time and space to distance ourselves from dysfunctional relationships. It’s also provided a polarising opportunity to get clear about the people we truly want to spend time with, learn from and trust.

Today’s article isn’t about trust, friendship or likeability, although those factors do often go together. This is about respect. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say we can respect people we don’t like. I know! Controversial. But really, think about the people you respect and like simultaneously. Sure, friends and a few colleagues might tick both boxes, but can you say the same, hand on heart, for every boss you’ve ever worked for? Yet it’s a trait people increasingly look for, with one survey by Harvard Business Review finding that out of 20,000 employees, respect was the leading behaviour that encourages greater commitment and engagement.

My work allows me to meet and connect with all kinds of people. I’m very deliberate about who I choose to spend time with, who I ring for advice and who I turn to for a laugh. The people I surround myself with all have certain characteristics in common. I find myself respecting people who:

  1. have integrity when life is hard. It’s easy to be a good person when everything’s working – it’s when life is challenging that people show us who they really are and what they’re capable of.
  2. set boundaries and make their needs clear. I’m always in awe of people who are clear about what works for them in relationships and have the words to articulate it.
  3. are smarter than me. There are all kinds of smart. There’s Intelligence Quotient (IQ), Emotional Quotient (EQ), Social Quotient (SQ) and Adversity Quotient (AQ) for starters. I never want to be the smartest person in the room. I appreciate people who know more, have a different educated view and are self-aware.
  4. make me laugh. Honestly, how great is it when someone brings humour to the moment? Not only is laughter a sure-fire way to connect with others, but research shows it lowers blood pressure; reduces anxiety and other negative emotions; benefits the heart and cardiovascular system; and even boosts immunity. Laughter truly is the best medicine.
  5. show healthy vulnerability. When people aren’t keeping it all together, and are able to share that with others, it shows great strength. Vulnerability guru Brené Brown even considers it one of the four skillsets of daring leadership.
  6. show me what they do matches what they say. When we’re around these people, we never have to guess what their ulterior motive might be, because they don’t play games. Their behaviour and words are congruent.
  7. speak their truth. I respect people who can share what matters to them and don’t compromise their values.
  8. are kind and curious. This might be the most important attribute I respect. Imagine a world where kindness and compassion ruled. Where people genuinely asked questions and listened and sought to understand without judgement. I want these people in my life.
  9. know what success and happiness means to them personally. They don’t just go along to get along. They live consciously and deliberately. They look for opportunities and passionately pursue whatever it is they want.
  10. know what they stand for. People who know what makes them angry, what their non-negotiables are, what they value – and what price they’ll pay to stick by their core beliefs.
  11. care about the environment. I constantly feel like I need to do better with this, and I respect and am inspired by people who demand we listen to what’s going on around us.
  12. contribute to something bigger than themselves. People who care about their community or are committed to making a difference in some way.
  13. give and contribute to others without any expectation of receiving something in return. These people are few and far between. Humans who want to help others unconditionally, who want other people to be successful. It’s magic when someone does something for someone else ‘just because’.
  14. show us what self-care really is. I totally respect people who smash out self-care in all forms. Those people who don’t apologise for taking care of the body and brain that they have. People who take the time they need to look after their own wellbeing.
  15. own all of it. They say sorry when they’re wrong. They take responsibility when they mess up. They celebrate their own success. They own their regrets.
  16. challenge my thinking and beliefs. I don’t want people who validate my thinking or don’t hold me to account. I hugely respect people who call me out, challenge how I’m living and working, and give me perspective on where I might be going wrong.

So, there you have it: a list (a long one at that) of all the traits I respect and seek in others. Of course, there’s no such thing as a perfect package (if only!), but it can be useful to lay out your own list of desirables, so you can surround yourself with people that energise, support, and inspire you to be the best version of yourself you can be.

– Lisa

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