I’ve been participating in Blog Action Day for several years now. This year’s topic is human rights – an important one considering some of the stuff I’ve been reading in the papers and seeing on the nightly news. I’m sure many bloggers will focus on human rights atrocities around the globe.
I want to come at this from a different perspective – one that’s little closer to home. I want to focus on the basic human dignity of every person – the people with whom we interact every day. All too often I see people treating others with little or no respect – often because of the job they do. This is wrong .
I devote several tweets in my career advice book Success Tweets to encourage people to treat everyone they meet with dignity and respect. For example Tweet 121 says, “Get genuinely interested in others. Help bring out the best in everyone you know.” Tweet 124 says, “Everyone has something to offer. Never dismiss anyone out of hand.”
Improving human rights starts with treating everyone you meet with the dignity they deserve as a fellow human being. It doesn’t matter if the person in front of you is the President of the United States, your boss, a co-worker, a taxi driver, a security guard or the housekeeper at your hotel.
Cathy, my wife, is the best example of someone who values every person she meets. She is friends with everyone – the pharmacy techs where we get our prescriptions, the couple who own the dry cleaners where we do business, the supermarket checkout people and baggers, the servers at the restaurants we frequent, and on and on and on.
Cathy is genuinely interested in these people. She knows their names, their spouses’ names and their kids’ names. She inquires about their lives. She knows about their vacations, what grades their kids are in school and lots of other things about them – all because she values them as individuals and takes the time to get to know them. She is one of the least judgmental people I know.
If you want to help create a world in which human rights are respected, start at home. Take a lesson from Cathy. Pay attention to the people around you. You will learn a lot and your life will be richer for it. Don’t judge people by what they do. Get to know others as individuals. You’ll be surprised at what you learn – and you will be doing your part to make the world a kinder, gentler place, one in which the value of each person is acknowledged and celebrated. We will all be better for it.
Speaking of we, in 2009 I participated in a writing project with my colleagues at the Creating WE Institute. We published a little book called, 42 Rules for Creating WE. The rules were short essays that contained a lot of great career advice. I contributed three rules. One was called, “There is No Quid Pro Quo in WE.” I’d like to share part of this essay here.
WE is built on relationships; the idea that we are all connected, and that through a WE-centric, rather than a traditional I-centric approach, our collective wisdom grows and evolves. This kind of thinking creates stronger organizations and societies. It fosters mutual shared respect for the unique contribution every person is capable of making. Solid, lasting, mutually beneficial relationships are at the core of WE. Giving with no expectation of return is a great way to create these types of relationships.
This is a quid pro quo world: you do for me and I’ll do for you. While there is nothing wrong in reciprocating a good deed or a favor, there is a fundamental problem with quid pro quo. It is reactive not proactive. Too many people wait for others to go first. They adopt the attitude, “When and if you do for me, I’ll do for you.” This scarcity mentality is not conducive to creating WE, or building strong relationships. When you come from a scarcity mentality, you focus on holding on to what you already have. This can prevent you from receiving what you might possibly get.
On the other hand, giving with no expectation of return comes from a proactive abundance mentality. When you give with no expectation of return, you are acknowledging the abundance of the universe and the value of each person. You are demonstrating faith that the good you do will benefit others close to you and the world at large – and that good things will come back to you.
Giving with no expectation of return is ironic. I have found that the more I give, the more I receive; often from unlikely sources. But that’s not my reason for giving – and I hope it is not yours. The best reason for giving is the basic joy of making a difference in other people’s lives and in creating a WE-centric world.
In the end, giving with no expectation of return comes down to your mentality – scarcity or abundance. If you come from a scarcity mentality, you will live by quid pro quo, and perpetuate the I-centric status quo. If you come from an abundance mentality, you will give with no expectation of return and begin to create a WE-centric world and create a better world, one in which each person is valued and respected.
To sum up, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by some of the atrocities and human rights violations we see on the news. It’s easy to feel helpless, impotent, unable to do anything positive. That may be true when it comes to some things. On the other hand, you, me, all of us can make a difference just by treating every person we meet with dignity and respect. A world of people who feel respected is a more positive place. You may not be able to stop atrocities, but you can do your part to make your little corner of the world a better place. Start today.