What does it cost to show some respect?

I was fortunate this week to hear Dr. Kristie Rogers present her research on respect in prison settings. She studied a fascinating company - Televerde - which runs several call centers out of a prison for women. The women are inmates, but take shifts at the call center and are able to earn better money than working in the prison.


The findings of the study center on these women experiencing two types of respect while working for this company while in prison. The first type of respect was gained simply by being treated as a human. Unlike in the prison yard, being included as part of Televerde made them feel worth that was missing when they interacted with the guards. The second type of respect was gained by supervisors training them, encouraging them, and convincing them that they had valuable and useful abilities.


I asked myself after this talk - why is it so remarkable that inmates would be treated in such positive ways? Or, perhaps more broadly, shouldn't everyone be treated this way, whether incarcerated or not? Isn't treating others with respect the right thing to do?


We forget too often that simple acts of respect go a long way. Asking someone about their day, including someone on an important message, inquiring about an opinion. Treating others as human sounds so basic yet is so often forgot.


Televerde shows us that it is not only the right, ethical, thing to do but that it is better for organizations too. When people feel respected, guess what, they perform better.


Next time you walk through your organization, take a look around and ask yourself to whom you can show respect. The admin? The IT person? The staff that empties your trash? As Dr. Rogers said in her talk, what does it cost you to treat them well? Nothing. And yet it can provide invaluable returns.


Read more about Dr. Rogers' work here.

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