Even with the relaunch of the Dignity & Respect Campaign, coupled with our new energy and direction, it would be remiss to move forward without acknowledging and reminding ourselves of what the campaign stands for in the first place.
One of our original and continued initiatives includes our 7 Pillars of Dignity & Respect. Each one of these pillars represents a specific behavior that we fully believe will help us all create an environment – whether it’s a classroom, a work setting, or even in the line at the supermarket – that we can all exist in both peacefully and productively.
1. Start with You. Understand how you see yourself, how others see you, and how your filters guide you, and influence your behavior.
We all have different backgrounds and vastly different experiences from one another. These experiences have shaped how you have come to see the world, as well as how you react to certain situations. Knowing these factors about yourself can go a long way in your ability to interact with others, and treat them with dignity and respect. Know your strengths as well as you know your weaknesses. Understand what has made you you
2. Sweat the Small Stuff. Understand the concepts of intent vs. impact. Become mindful of how you respond to others and be responsible for your words and actions.
Once you fully understand yourself, it’s crucial to know how others might perceive you. Does your humor upset others around you? Do you find yourself making jokes or casual comments that cause others to wince? This type of “harmless” behavior might not mean much to you, but often it can resonate with other people in deeper ways. Be sensitive to others and aware of your own actions. Hold yourself accountable.
3. Build Cultural Awareness. Respond to employees, customers, and business partners in a culturally appropriate manner. Treat others the way they want to be treated.
Cultural awareness does not simply involve learning about other cultures or belief systems. Building cultural awareness means you work towards accepting those differences. By understanding these differences and welcoming them into your communities or circles, we start to drop the barriers.
4. Find Common Ground. Work through differences and gain agreement while maintaining dignity and respect. Acknowledge the value of different perspectives.
Yes, it’s true that you might not understand another person’s opinion, and you might strongly disagree with it. But does that mean you disagree with that person entirely? Chances are very high that you have something in common with him or her. It could be a small thing (perhaps you both have children), or it could be something you didn’t expect (perhaps you have the same favorite author). Or maybe you and this person share a common passion that could spark a collaboration or partnership down the road. You won’t ever know until you try – until you set aside differences and look for the commonalities.
5. Join the Team. Create interactions on teams that are respectful of individual differences, build trust and agreement, limit bias and favoritism, and strive for the best overall outcomes.
Teams do not function at full capacity unless everyone is involved. Just as two heads are better than one, a team or group in which everyone is engaged and contributing is better than one or two individuals excluding the rest. It’s true that these types of interactions can be difficult to cultivate, which is why it takes everyone’s effort to involve others. Work to find the strengths of your teammates, and figure out the best ways to encourage and inspire each member.
6. Lead the Way. Be inclusive with every person, in every interaction, in everything you do, every day.
If each one of us waited for someone else to step up and be the first to lead an initiative, how many initiatives do you expect would get started? The truth is that it’s everyone’s responsibility to take charge and make an impact. This impact can be as small as an effort to smile at everyone you pass on the street.
7. Do the Right Thing. Do your part to make your organization, school, community, and sports team a better place for ALL to live, work, learn, and play.
Don’t do the easy thing – do the right thing. We all have the ability to make a difference in the lives of others. Don’t underestimate yourself or how much acting out of dignity and respect can impact the world.
In addition to knowing what each of these 7 Pillars stands for, the Dignity & Respect Campaign also offers modules and training materials for you to incorporate these principles into your own organization. Contact us for more information, and take the first step in making the world a better place for ALL to live.