I may have an old-fashioned view about respect. In some ways, I guess I have become a curmudgeon. Why? In this hedonistic society, people generally do what’s right for them and live their lives to achieve self-fulfillment on their terms. Unfortunately, that often leaves others holding the proverbial bag.
I feel it most intensely at meetings and conferences. It starts with the RSVP which appears to have lost its meaning for people. Some people never respond to invitations, some reply in the affirmative with either no intention to attend or little commitment to the time as evidenced by double booking, accepting a last minute offer to do something else or indicating that they had to attend another “command performance” at the last minute. Often I have attended a large gathering where organizers have counted on a certain number of people to attend and only 40-60% of those do while another 20-30% show up having made no response. Sure, I get it that sometimes life happens and people have to cancel or change their minds but this has reached epidemic proportions.
Enter the meeting itself. Now we have the people who have either self-selected or have been chosen to be in the room physically but are certainly less than fully present. I have somewhat reconciled myself to dealing with tweeting in meetings but I sometimes think that tweeting becomes emailing and calendaring, etc. as the person’s device holds more interest than the subject of the day. What ever happened to taking notes, paying attention and asking questions of those in the room rather than those in cyberspace? Frankly, meetings would take less time and be filled with a lot more energy if people made the commitment to be present.
Finally, the follow-through. How many times have I left a meeting with people agreeing to following up on certain items and then been disappointed (but no longer surprised) when that follow-through doesn’t happen? Teamwork is a necessity for success but more and more, we are creating an environment in which people who want to get things done need to make it happen themselves.
My bottomline is simple – if you make a commitment keep it. If you keep the commitment, pay attention. In my books, it’s called the golden rule.