Monthly Archives: August 2014


My mother would occasionally shout this command at my brother and I when we were younger.

Respect is expected in most arenas of life.

Jackie Robinson once said, “I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me…All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.”

Respect does not automatically require agreement nor does it require a commitment on our part to another person.

Respect is defined on different levels. You can have respect for someone’s ideals or beliefs; respect for someone’s property; and respect for someone’s person (their life, body, etc.). You can also respect someone’s opinion (without having to agree).

Other areas where respect can be practiced are…

…When you hear or see an ambulance coming from any direction, your response is to respect their need for space by moving out of their way. Someone’s life may depend on it.

…When you see the police car behind you turn on their lights and siren signaling to you to pull over, hopefully you respect their authority and do as they ask.

…When you attended or while you attend school, you show respect for the teacher’s knowledge even if you do not agree with them.

…When you visit someone else’s home, you show respect for their possessions and are extra careful in order to take care not to break anything. You also respect their time and try not to stay past your welcome.

Respecting Nature is another area. It is not difficult to respect the power of a storm, but it takes discipline to respect nature on a consistent basis by doing our part to protect it.

Regarding Respect in Relationships

It was taught to me from the time of childhood – and I still try to teach my daughters this lesson – to respect your elders and those in authority.

When I lived in inner city New Jersey, while spending my time mentoring some youth trying to leave the gang life, we had an ongoing discussion on respect. The common phrase I would hear was, “You expect me to show respect to others before they show respect to me? I’ll get beat up if I don’t demand respect from others.”

Unfortunately, this is not uncommon among people in any area. There is a prevalent, unspoken philosophy in society that secretly says, “I’ll respect you if you respect me.” The only trouble with this when it involves relationships is respect depends on how an individual defines it for them.

With over 311 Million people in the United States alone, that is potentially 311 Million different definitions of respect. How is anyone even going to keep up with respecting others if each person they meet will have their own definition of how they desire to be respected?

First, let me say that it is okay to have a unique idea of what respect means to you as an individual. However, let me also add that there are several universal rules when it comes to respect between individuals in relationships.

  1. Respect Time: There are only 24 hours in a day. I know this is not new news for you, but we all have obligations and TO DO lists. When you are in relationship with someone, respect his or her time. Be aware of their time constraints.
  2. Respect Opinions: Everyone has an opinion. Remember that respect does not equate to agreement. Agreeing to disagree can be the utmost in respect for another individual – along with not continually trying to convince them of your point of view.
  1. Respect Property: When you are in possession of someone’s property, treat it as if you are personally invested in it.
  1. Respect Space: Not everyone desires to allow people into their personal space. If you are in business with an individual like this, only call them during office hours. If someone spends time with their family in the evenings or weekends, do your best not to take them away from that family space.
  1. Respect because that’s what YOU expect: the golden rule says that we should treat others how we expect to be treated. If we want respect, we should show respect. We should show respect without expecting the same in return.

Ultimately respect is about YOU and I as individuals. The rule we should consider following is this…

Show respect for others, even with no guarantee it will be reciprocated. We will attract respect when we show respect. 

For those who do not show respect in return – try to discover what it is in their life that could be holding them back from doing so. They may need an extra measure of respect, because of difficulties in their life, family or job.

This can be a difficult task.

You may be thinking, “Does he expect me to get rolled over and just take it?”

The answer to this would be, “absolutely not.” You can stand up for yourself and still show respect. You can rise above the level of disrespect someone shows you and present yourself with dignity.

Simon Sinek was quoted as saying, “If you want to be a great leader, remember to treat all people with respect at all times. For one, because you never know when you’ll need their help. And two, because it’s a sign you respect people, which all great leaders do.”

What are your thoughts on respect? Use the comment area below and share them…


Do You Trust Me?

Your answer to this question may be in the form of another question…

“To do what?”

You would do well not to answer the question, “Do you trust me?” without understanding the focus of the question.

Trust is often misunderstood, and by relatively intelligent individuals. Onora O’Neill (philosopher) postures that saying we need more trust is a “stupid aim” and that we should not be focused on building more trust, but trusting those who are trustworthy, more and those who are untrustworthy, less. **

Would we even need to ask the question “Do you trust me?” if we simply proved we were trustworthy by our actions and our words?

One of the building blocks of a relationship is Trust. So often we expect others to trust us without proving we are trustworthy first. We expect others to give us their trust simply because we ask for it.

However, Trust is the result of trustworthiness.** How can you prove trustworthiness?

O’Neill believes trustworthiness will have three components present: competency, reliability, and honesty.**

I used to tell my daughters while they were growing up (still do actually) that lying is wrong because it has the power to destroy a relationship very quickly. Lying and being caught in a lie is like napalm – it can flare up and burn out a relationship charring it beyond repair. Honesty is a key part of trustworthiness.

Competency literally means you have shown skill and ability in a particular area. I trust my ophthalmologist to treat issues and illnesses of my eyes, but I would not trust him or her with treating the issues I have with my knees.

Reliability means you are dependable, devoted, faithful, truthful and loyal. There are those in your life that are competent at a certain skill, are honest in their words, but you may not trust them to keep an appointment because they are forgetful and therefore not reliable.

Trust is tricky. We try to generalize it, however, in reality it is complex and multi-faceted. There are different levels of trust. You wouldn’t trust a ten-year old to drive your car. You wouldn’t trust someone you just met to house-sit, unless you did a background check and had them sign a form stating they are 100% responsible for all of your belongings while you are away (of course, that’s not trust at all, is it?).  

You wouldn’t trust your dog alone with your fried chicken dinner. You certainly wouldn’t trust your mechanic to fly a jetliner on your trip to another country.

When you give trust to someone in some particular area of expertise, it is usually because they have proven they are willing and able to fulfill a certain task, assignment or a need.

This speaks to competence.

Why would you go get a second opinion from another doctor? Why would you get a second opinion on your car for a particular repair? Why would you talk to another friend regarding a situation you are facing after you just asked advice from the first one?

This is a test of honesty.

When you give a time and a place for someone to meet you, and they don’t show up, you are more likely going to have difficulty trusting that same person when you give them another place and time to meet.

This refers to reliability.

When trying to build a relationship with someone – whether it is a work relationship, friendship, romantic relationship or a family relationship – in order to develop trust between you and someone else, you need to prove you are trustworthy before you can be trusted. You would not expect anything less from someone else in order to for you to trust him or her.

Perhaps trust is so difficult to give and trustworthiness difficult to determine because there are many counterfeits vying for our attention, our money, our time and talents. To what end are the objects of our trust trying to obtain? Does the person or group we are placing our trust have our best interests at heart? For that matter, do we have the best interests of others in the forefront of our minds?

There are tens of thousands of attorneys in this country. There are lawsuits literally filling up dockets all across the nation. Why are we such a litigious society? Could it be that we have given up on proving trustworthiness because it is so difficult to prove?

I used to give trust more readily than I do now. Skepticism is the result of broken trust throughout the years. I look more toward a person’s trustworthiness before I give trust. Unfortunately, it is possible to sway more toward the skeptical side of thinking when you get burned too many times.

When building relationships with others – I am now trying to focus more on proving my own trustworthiness before expecting others to trust me. It doesn’t mean I automatically trust others. In the process of proving my own trustworthiness, I am surprised at how someone’s true colors become known and show whether they are trustworthy as well.

Trust depends on the other person giving it to you. Trustworthiness doesn’t depend on others; it depends on you and I. What would it look like if we lived in such a way with each other where we proved our own mettle before expecting to be given their trust? Would we even need so many levels of accountability (which are in place because of those who have proven untrustworthy)?

Also, when we take the perspective that we need to prove our trustworthiness before trust can be exchanged, we may even be accepted sooner than later. Just remember, proving trustworthiness takes time.

It is an extremely valuable part of relationships.

Just one final thought: referring back to the most recent posts on vulnerability – O’Neill also points out that if you show a level of vulnerability, it has a positive effect on your ability to prove trustworthy**.


**Onora O’Neill. (2013). What we don’t understand about trust. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from

Vulnerability – Part Two

“You’re the captain of this ship. You have no right to be vulnerable.” Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock on the TV Series Star Trek (1966-1969).

Being vulnerable means admitting we have fear and shame. Admitting we have fear and shame make us feel vulnerable.  The cycle drives us to pretend, to put up a facade and to act like something we are not. 

According to Brene Brown (researcher and storyteller), there are several reactions we have to the fear and shame of vulnerability…**

We make the uncertain, certain”: rigid ritual (instead of relationship), which says, “I’m right, you’re wrong, shut up, that’s it.”

We blame others for why we feel the way we feel.” When we blame others, it is a way to discharge our own shame, vulnerability and discomfort. If we highlight the fault in others, we believe it will take the focus off of our own faults.

We perfect. We try to look perfect, act perfect, and teach perfect.” But what we NEED to do is understand we are IMPERFECT, and teach others and ourselves that even though we are imperfect, we are worthy of love and belonging because we are human.

We pretend that what we do does not have an affect or impact on people.” We do this in our jobs, our families and our friendships. Sometimes all we need to do is be vulnerable and say we are sorry – to help build connection with others. Every action has an affect on someone else. 

The fear of vulnerability separates us in relationship from others. Embracing vulnerability strengthens our relationship with others, when done in a trusting setting. In order to create a trusting setting, each person needs to prove they are “trustworthy.”

According to Brown,** with my thoughts added to her instructions from her research, there are ways we can build connection with others. This will deepen your relationship with those you choose to build it with.

 “Let yourself be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen.”

This requires confession. You cannot hide who you really are if you desire a deep meaningful connection with someone else. Confessing to each other requires vulnerability. Vulnerability may even eradicate hypocrisy. Wouldn’t that be something!

Vulnerability is necessary when building relationships others. Everyone has issues. When you let someone see you, vulnerably, you become more accessible emotionally.

Love with our whole hearts, even if there is NO guarantee. This is hard, even excruciatingly difficult.”

Loving another person requires that we come to a place of loving ourselves, forgiving ourselves, caring for ourselves, and understanding we are worthy of love and belonging.

Practice gratitude and lean on joy.

Gratitude is another lost art. The human condition has turned inward and we expect gratitude without freely giving it to others. It’s the thank you provided for a small random act of kindness. It is the tip you give because you see your waiter or waitress has gone out of their way to help you.

When you practice gratitude, you actually begin to feel more joyful. The constant intentional focus on gratitude will eventually guide your thoughts away from the negative and allow you to be more vulnerable.

How? If you are grateful for what you have, you become content in whatever state you find yourself in, because it could always be worse.

Understand that we are enough.”

It is a dangerous place to find yourself when you are constantly thinking you don’t have what it takes to make a difference.

Who you are NOW, what you have learned up to NOW, has given you everything you need to make a difference, NOW. It doesn’t mean you stop learning and growing. It does mean you don’t have to wait to build meaningful relationships with others.


Embrace vulnerability.

Let your actions be a catalyst for LIFE CHANGE in someone else’s life.

What we do DOES have an impact on those around us.  If we hide our vulnerability, we will only develop surface relationships. If we embrace our vulnerability, we might be surprised at the strength we feel in relationship with others who are trustworthy and develop much more meaningful friendships.  

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.  How has embracing vulnerability been a strength for you?  Have you experienced a negative experience when you were vulnerable with someone you could NOT trust?  

Leave a comment, and let’s start a discussion.  



**YouTube. (2010, June). Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability [Video File]. Retrieved from

Vulnerability – Part One

Vulnerability – is quite possibly the longest four-letter word in the American language.

Just the meaning from the dictionary* is disheartening. The word vulnerable means susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm.*

Who in their right mind would willingly open his or herself up to physical or emotional attack or harm?

When we look at the word vulnerable at face value, my assumption is that no one would want to be in that position – until we understand in order to have meaningful relationships with others it becomes a necessity to break the surface and truly get to know someone. This will require vulnerability.

In one of the previous posts we discussed Connection. To refresh your memory, here is an excerpt from that post…

There was a study done at the University of Houston Graduate College** that discovered for those who believe they are worthy of love and belonging, they had a sense of courage, compassion and connection with others. They had the courage to be imperfect; the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, and they were able to connect with others as a result of their authenticity in relationship. Those in the study were willing to let go of who they thought they SHOULD BE, in order to BE WHO THEY REALLY ARE to connect with other people.

To get to this point, you need to embrace vulnerability. What makes you vulnerable is what makes you approachable and beautiful. **

If you and I decide to close ourselves off to others not allowing them to see our misgivings, faults, and issues we may be able to connect with another human being, however, you may never breach the acquaintance stage of a friendship.

The ones I am closest to are the ones that see me for who I REALLY am, and accept me anyway. It doesn’t mean they agree with me, or feel that I don’t have issues that need to be corrected. It doesn’t mean they will even agree with my choices or even what I believe to be solid truth. As a matter of fact, being vulnerable in relationship infers we open our lives to someone for constructive criticism, accountability and tough love.

Understanding this fact requires a “breakdown of pride.” **

In a talk by Brene Brown** she points out a couple of things about vulnerability.

We numb vulnerability in our lives. We don’t like how it makes us “feel.” The evidence she gives for this fact is – “currently we are the most in debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in US history”. She says, “you cannot selectively NUMB emotion.

You cannot say, “Here’s the bad stuff; here’s vulnerability, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment – I don’t want to feel these. Therefore, I am going to go shopping, eat food, smoke a cigarette, drink and take medicine – to numb the pain of these feelings.”

She points out when we numb our vulnerability, we also numb positive emotions: joy, gratitude and happiness for example. Then we become miserable, looking for purpose and meaning, we feel vulnerable and then we start the dangerous cycle of pressing down shame, fear, and vulnerability.

There is a way to break this cycle. It will take a tough decision.

I understand all too well that being vulnerable is a risk, but when you do find someone or a group of people who have proved trustworthy, it can be incredibly freeing.

…To Be Continued…

What are your thoughts so far on Vulnerability? We will complete this two part blog next week with more thoughts from Researcher Brene Brown and myself.


*Stevenson, Angus and Lindberg, Christine A. (2013). New Oxford American Dictionary, Third Edition. Retrieved August 6, 2014 from

**YouTube. (2010, June). Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability [Video File]. Retrieved from

Making Sense of Communication

What we communicate makes PERFECT sense to us.  The trouble with communication is the person (or people) we communicate to.  

Half of what I just said is preposterous.  Yet, something tells me you had a twinge of agreement to both comments.  

The truth is, communication is tricky. Whenever you have two or more people involved what we say and how we say it matters more than we would care to admit. The state of mood of the recipient of our communication and the context of the conversation also matter more than we would care to admit.  

Remember the old bit from Abbott & Costello? Watch this for some laughs and then read on to the end.  



In order to have effective communication in relationship there needs to be success in four areas, working in order and dependent on each other.

  • There is the message, which we wish to deliver

  • The way in which we deliver the message: body language, words we select, our demeanor, context, mood

  • The way in which someone receives the message you deliver in the manner you delivered it: their mood, state of being, context, demeanor

  • How the receiver of the message interprets the message they received.

At any one of these points 2-4 we can mess up our communication. There are internal factors (our moods, feelings we have toward the receiver, biological factors) that affect the way in which we deliver the message. Then there are external factors involved, such as the mood of the person we are communicating with, circumstances surrounding the communication and the preconceived notions of the one you are communicating with or even yourself.

So then why even try to communicate?

There is no way we can go through this life WITHOUT communication in relationships.  Even if we never talked, we would communicate through our actions, facial expressions, body language, and our emotions.

The only way we stop physically communicating is if we are dead. Even after that, how we lived our lives can communicate through memories. 

This should help explain why in relationships we have MIS-communication.  These miscommunications are caused by a breakdown in one of the four areas of communication mentioned above. 

The question is, where does our responsibility end in the communication?  I would like to submit that our responsibility in communication, or the breakdown of the communication, does not end.  We carry the responsibility all the way to the point where the original message is interpreted and understood (or misunderstood). 

We cannot control the external circumstances, the mood or emotional state of the receiver of the message, but we can certainly follow through with the message to ensure the content, desire, or intent of the message is understood – at least to the best of our ability.

There are ways we can potentially fulfill all four areas of communication, but never with everyone and certainly not all the time.  When you get to know someone, through building a relationship, hopefully there is truth being shared. 

When you communicate truthfully and your actions line up with the truth, the receiver of your communication develops a trust and belief that you will be trustworthy.

When you build on your relationship with someone by proving you are trustworthy, an understanding will develop, a sense of someone’s state of mind by reading the non-verbals involved start to take hold.  This can help gauge when you decide to communicate. 

When you are upset, emotional, sad, or even ecstatic you can decide whether this is the right context for you to pass along the message you intend to deliver. 

Take note of your conversations and communication and journal the first two areas of communication as well as the result with the recipient. Over time you will begin to see a pattern develop (whether good or bad). Then you should start to see how you can adjust your half of communication and begin the path of successful communication with others. 

What we communicate makes PERFECT sense to us. The trouble with communication is that we do not take the recipient into consideration.

Do you have thoughts about the post? Please post a comment below!  Would love to hear from you!