Being respectful isn’t just good manners. It’s a way to connect with others and try to understand their position or opinion. It may be about differences in how to approach the strategy in a case, a workflow process with those on your team, or dealing with opposing counsel. In all situations realize two important things: (1) the likelihood of you changing someone’s position by being disrespectful of what they think is zero; and (2) the reputation you will be building may not be what you think or would hope for. Your actions and words follow you and speaking in the heat of the moment or an adversarial conversation can be longer lasting than you can imaging.
It is easy to see this in everyday life. The divisiveness in our country is disappointing on many levels and follows up through work and our personal lives. People demean others they know and don’t know on social media and anywhere else they can leave comments. People physically attack others at protests and otherwise. This really is unbelievable if you think about it. In many ways, our country is coming apart at the seams and many people don’t respect the thoughts or opinions of others.
You should want to try to understand why someone you work with thinks differently than you. This isn’t so they can change your thoughts or you theirs, but to understand the other’s positions and try to work together to bridge the gap. Knowing why may help you better understand them. Plus, it may help you to debate and then align regarding how to move forward.
Relationships are everything. They enrich the quality of your life. Always remember that many of the co-workers, clients, and others you disagree with are people you like and know have good qualities. Demonstrate respect by listening fully to others, considering their opinions, and figuring out how to work together moving forward.