I’ve worked in the world of high performance sport for most of my life and one of the most crucial elements of the success of a high performance environment is the level of respect in the room.

Respect is an interesting concept as it carries two sides; how you respect others, and how you respect yourself.

In some instances today, respect is a lost art. As we’ve gotten more and more distracted and influenced by different forms of media we’ve slowly lost a sense of respect for ourselves and for those we interact with every day.

Something as simple as listening attentively to the person you are interacting with, and actively engaging in your conversation is evaporating right before our very eyes these days. People today are more apt to be focused on their phone, or diverted by their phone when something or someone far more important is sending them a message.

I am old enough to actually remember when the cellular phone became a reality in our lives and I swore then that I would never have one because I was so disappointed in the way it distracted people from the people who were right there in front of them! Though I too have become a “user” of the technology, I find myself more and more realizing how much it has contributed to my disrespect of those who have chosen my company!

Things like opening the door for someone else, waiting your turn for the opportunity to get on a train, or letting someone take their bag of the luggage carousel before you are just simple manifestations of respect that seem to disappear regularly from peoples functional vocabulary.

One of the most interesting expressions of self-respect is how you carry yourself, your demeanor, your dress, and even how you walk. It’s fascinating to watch old movies or documentaries and to see how people carried themselves, and dressed only 40–50 years ago. Men wouldn’t walk out of the house without a collared shirt on, thus the old adage blue-collar and white-collar work. Women were always well appointed, hair done, dressed well, never to leave the home unprepared so to speak. Now-a-days people regularly wear sweat pants out on a date qualifying as “Athleisure” wear which it turns out is more than acceptable, even fashionable.

Now I’m not saying we all need to get back to being all buttoned up, but the bottom line here is we’ve been progressing along a slippery slope towards less and less respect for our personal appearance, respect for ourselves, and respect for those around us, and with whom we work.

Respect starts with us, how we carry ourselves, how we treat ourselves, and especially with how we treat others. As goes one of the most fundamental values of every religion in the world, do unto others as you would have done unto you. We’ve begun to loose sight of this fundamental value, slowly being eroded by the entropy of social influence.

We all need to take a moment and take stock of how we carry ourselves. Are we taking the time to listen to those with whom we interact? Are we being patient with people? Are we giving them the benefit of the doubt? Are we practicing empathy and understanding that we don’t really know what has occurred to this person on this day before we interacted with them? And if we are distracted by things that in some instances are more important, do we take the time to apologize for being distracted, or do we just expect that people will understand?

Those wonderful words; please, thank you, may I, sorry, these words go a long way in displaying a true sense of respect for our fellow human being and even though they take little or no effort to employ, it seems we are less and less apt to use them.

So when you wake up tomorrow, maybe take the time to require from yourself that you get ready for your day, bring a sharpness to the way you carry yourself, look people in the eye when you speak with them, take the time to listen to them, and be cordial in the manner in which you speak. You might find that these random acts of respect generate reciprocity, and when they don’t, just let it be their loss, not yours!

Respect for ourselves and respect for our fellow human being is a fundamental premise of human relations, its one of those core elements in building a culture of success.

Originally published at medium.com