I’ve been getting a lot of emails and private messages on social media recently about the challenge of treating each other with respect in our current politically charged and polarized environment.  I understand completely. I preach this concept and still find I have to discipline myself on a daily basis.

When approaching the challenge of treating someone with respect, even if we may not necessarily respect that person, I find it helpful to always keep one objective in mind. I teach this objective as the launching point when I speak on communication, conflict management, and leadership. In fact, I try to keep it in the front of my brain as a filter for everything I do.

The objective is three-fold.

  • First – all people feel safe and treated with respect in our presence.
  • Second – we stand our own ground.
  • Thirdly – we get our message across.

Now that is a Higher Ground perspective and a little different from the approach many professionals employ.  In the very competitive worlds of business and politics, the most common goal in communication is to be clear, to be understood. The most common goal in approaching conflict is to WIN. Unfortunately, all too often both of those objectives, without any other filters, can leave a trail of “dead bodies” in their wake.

My experience has shown me that approaching all situations from this, alternative, Higher Ground objective is more effective and delivers longer-term, more positive results.

The daily discipline I mentioned earlier involves running everything we say and do through the filter of these questions:

  • Is it true, kind and necessary?
  • Will it allow the other person to feel safe and treated with respect?
  • Will it allow me to stand my own ground and not be bulldozed?
  • Will my message and value structure be clearly apparent?

You will be amazed at how consistently coming from that direction will eventually begin to bring clarity in how you should proceed with someone who you don’t necessarily respect.