I’m not looking for answers about the three young men who stood up to words of hatred and met with a blade.

I’m trying to share tools.

That’s how we change this story.

This is a piece on how to manage ourselves, because it really does all begin with ME.

It’s not a quick fix or a silver bullet.

It’s the beginning of how things might be different…

We owe it to those who stood up and died.

We owe it to ourselves.


On the heels of how unbridled hatred exhibited in Portland yesterday, I found myself wondering,

“Why can’t we all just be respectful?”

And I remember….   respect is one of those words.

It’s at the core of all healthy relationships.

It’s the foundation of our human rights.

But what is it exactly?

It is a word we throw around like we all mean the same thing; we all have the same ideas about how it feels, looks, and manifests.

Yet respect has cultural, environmental, experiential, developmental, and personal influences for each and every one of us.

When I say respect it may or may not be the same thing as when you say respect.

I realized as a parent with young children (okay, so that was a while ago, but still!) that I had to be clear when I said, “Be respectful.”

I had to know what *I meant when I said it.

I started asking people what it meant to be ‘respectful.’

Most people said it was being nice.

Yet, what does that mean?

I know people who are nice to your face who have a whole lot of judgement and vile to say once they are safely in the parking lot.

Is it civility (another word for ‘nice’ with a little more meat)?

I arrived at the answer I can live with best….

Respect is a state of mind.

It is a state of mind that reminds me of two things

  1. We are all in this together.

Let’s pretend, right this moment, something happened and everything is going to hell. The only way to survive is by boat.

There are two boats you have to choose from; just two.

The first boat has the attitude and behavior that everyone has to fend for themselves. Every person for themselves.

The second boat has the attitude and behavior that to truly survive, it has to be done together. Each person is valuable and it is important to do the best possible to make sure everyone survives.

Which boat will you choose?

IMHO, that’s how you should live your life.

That’s how I choose to live my life. That’s a huge part of what respect is; the mechanism by which that attitude is possible and successful.

2. I get what I give.

This is perhaps the most significant.

I want to be treated with respect and I know what that looks like.


It is from that lens then, that I developed an acronym.

It’s way more than that, however.

It has given me something to manage my own behavior, something from which to reflect and consider how I have responded, how I want to respond, and how I will respond. It provides me a tool to lead by example.

That was huge as a parent.

It’s even ‘huger’ as a human.

In the work done through With Respect, LLC, it is a tool to teach and train; a tool for others to do the same – manage, reflect, and adjust as needed.

It is a clear cut answer to how to know and recognize my own baby bigots (you know, those things that show up as your prejudice – sometimes that you didn’t even know you had!)

It is a tool that can help identify racism and sexism – most importantly in ourselves – but also in other people, in organizations, and in society.

It is useful everywhere from my living room, to the town hall, to the classroom, and the boardroom.

This is my acronym for RESPECT. Feel free to develop your own; from your living room, from your town hall, from your classroom, or your boardroom.


R = Remember. This is the art of pulling these concepts and their correlating behaviors out from the back of our brain into the front. It must be dusted off, brought to the forefront of our mind where it can be seen and used. In everything we do, every day, RESPECT is a consideration, it is the order of the day.

E = Empathy. The importance of putting ourselves in another’s shoes. This is about feelings; knowing how others might feel in another situation. That pain you feel when someone else stubs their toe? That’s empathy. That proves you have it. That’s why it’s so important that we use it; we are hard wired for it.

S = Sincerity. The impeccability of the word – of My Word. Say what you mean and mean what you say. It is about thinking before we speak; saying exactly what we intend to do, what we believe to be true, what we might think. Then comes the follow through as action; the behavior has to support the Word. Oh, and by the way, it’s not just what you say on the outside of your head… it’s what goes on inside as well. I wouldn’t call you stupid (that’s not respectful) which means I also don’t call myself stupid (which is also not respectful). It eliminates name calling, gossip, hurtful humor, and words used as weapons.

P = Patience. There are several different kinds of patience. The kind that requires one to wait in line or at a traffic light for hours (so not me!) and the kind that engages with people, mindful that each of us is in a different place, doing the best we can, and waits for them to catch up. It’s about being able to use our empathy and helping people get to where they need to be at their pace. When I’m the boss, I have to provide instruction and guidance in ways that people can hear and then I have to do what I can to move them toward those expectations in supportive ways. I don’t wait for the first time they fall outside the lines and “catch” them. I stay at hand and guide, answering questions, asking questions, mentoring, and teaching.

E = Equity. Not the kind you have in your house. This is justice; the level playing field, the idea that all people are created equal and deserve equal treatment and access regardless of how they look, sound, smell, or appear. If I need glasses, I get them. It doesn’t mean everyone on my shift gets glasses just because I have them. Those who need them, get them. Those who need something else, get that. It’s about striving to succeed within a group as a group. It also means that if you expect your needs/wants to be met you have to be willing to meet other’s needs/wants. There is no hierarchy in humans. Spotted dogs are no better than those who come in stripes; the same goes for humans.

C = Compassion. This is the action of empathy; it happens without judgement, listening without agenda, speaking from the heart. It is doing the right thing because it is the right thing. I also call it humanity.

T = Truthfulness. This is honesty (or truth) provided in a way that can be heard. Your girlfriend, having asked how the outfit she is trying on looks, will probably react better and hear you without being insulted if you say, “Green isn’t your color” rather than “OMG! That’s hideous!” It is so important to remember that truth is individual. Being respectful means I have the right to share my truth but not the right to force my truth on you as yours.


Respect isn’t about fear. Fear motivates people to do what’s expected when there’s a chance to get caught. It is an external force that doesn’t serve well for long-term impact.

(How many of us speed until the cop shows up and then we slow down to the right speed? The speed limit isn’t meaningful to us; we only follow the rule when we might get caught if we don’t.)

True respect inspires (Old English; to impart truth or idea to someone). It is our favorite teacher in school in whose class we did better than we knew we could because they connected with us or we simply did not want disappoint them. We respected them.

That’s the beginning of respect. Nurtured and guided, that becomes who we are, what we do, and how we “be.”

I say again, respect is a state of mind.

What I offer here is a tool, something you can apply tomorrow to see changes in places and relationships that are meaningful to you.

I like to offer tools you can use immediately.

Try it out – act on it, post it, talk about it – then let me know what it does for you, how things might be different or people might engage differently with you.

It’s how we begin to make the change….

…it comes from within.

It requires a state of mind.

It requires respect.


Feel free to comment below or use our form to email us.

Oh, and because this tool is a resource for you to use, you can  find a nice 8 1/2″ X 11″ electronic visual available for your use here. (You have to scroll down to the Freebies but you’ll find it. R.E.S.P.E.C.T.)

The reality about respect is I don’t have to like you to respect you.

I don’t have to agree with you to respect you.

I don’t even have to know you to respect you.

You and I may not see eye to eye, may have a personality conflict, or may just not get along.

Maybe philosophically or religiously, we don’t agree.

Perhaps your behavior may offend me.

That in no way gives me permission to be anything less than respectful with you.

Doing that with grace and ease takes practice (and some people give us lots of opportunities to practice!) but it can be done.

This is one tool that helps us remember that and learn how to do it.

For today, think about your idea of respect. What does it look like? How does it feel? How does it manifest.

Next time, we can talk about what happens when something shows up that might *seem like an exception.

If you like what you read and what to read more, sign up here.

Also, please pass this on to those you know would like to hear it too.

And, as always, I look forward to your comments as we grow and learn together!

With Respect,

Leah R. Kyaio