Rob Levit| January 2014

A New Perspective On Gaining Respect

This week I had the opportunity to lead a seminar on gaining respect in the workplace for twenty homeless adults in a culinary and custodial employment program. They were wonderful to work with because they were so open and appreciative of someone spending time with them to help them succeed. It was really a co-learning experience because I enjoyed it as much as they did. It is awesome to work with people so hungry to learn and apply.

Gaining Respect is a serious issue and I bring it up because so many of us don’t receive the respect we deserve – as educators and administrators. All too often we leave school feeling tired, chewed up and chewed out by parents, coworkers and even students!

For the homeless adults, I created the Gaining Respect Matrix and it asks us to reexamine our perspective on respect with questions like:

  • Is it really true that I should be receiving or gaining respect from this person?
  • How can I know this as a fact?
  • What is my role (not fault) in not receiving the respect I desire?
  • What is my role in receiving and gaining respect I desire?

The respect matrix asks you to objectively examine (leave the emotion out of the description) four very specific situations and your perspective on the situations:

  1. What happened when I was respected? Recall, examine and offer your perspective.
  2. What happened when I was disrespected? Recall, examine and offer your perspective.
  3. What happened when I respected someone? Recall, examine and offer your perspective.
  4. What happened when I disrespected someone? Recall, examine and offer your perspective.
  • Make sure you describe The Situation.
  • Make sure you describe The Emotions.
  • Make sure you describe The Learning. (How were you transformed by the situation?)

What is the purpose of the exercise? To greatly expand our perspective on our limited definition of gaining respect. At the end of the seminar, it was unanimous – we are all responsible for giving ourselves the respect we deserve and respecting others the way we wish to be respected. It’s that simple. As much as we feel and think we deserve gaining respect from other, we will never receive it the way we can give it to ourselves.

I have attached the Respect Matrix. Please use it. Partner up and do it with a friend, a fellow educator or your whole team. It will open your eyes and give you new found freedom to lessen our dependence on the ever-changing opinion of others.

Jean Vanier writes: “When we love and respect people, revealing to them their value, they can begin to come out from behind the walls that protect them.” The same can be said of ourselves. When we respect ourselves – our teaching, our being, our personhood, our way – we become free to come out from behind the walls that “being disrespected” creates.

About the Author

Rob Levit, an acclaimed musician and artist and 2013 Innovator of the Year from the Maryland Daily Record, has created award-winning innovative "Life-Skills Through The Arts" programs for adults with mental illness, the homeless, adults in drug and alcohol recovery, youth in domestic/sexual abuse counseling, foster children, hospital patients, veterans and many more. He is currently Executive Director of Creating Communities and was the first Artist-In-Residence at Hospice of the Chesapeake, where he created and infused healing activities for the well-being of staff, families and patients. Email Rob.