How do you Cope in a Business World Where Respect is Optional?

I can’t take it anymore. I know that many of my work clients and colleagues has wonderful upbringings and were taught how to be polite. Somehow in the sea of business and the recent global downfall of the economy over the last 6 years, respect has literally gone out the window.

Some of the ways in which I feel respect has been lost: 

  1. Time isn’t important. Conference calls are often left going too long without direction, cancelled at the start of the call or attendees come 5-10 minutes late with only a 30 minute window to chat.
  2. Communication sucks. Clear and consistent communication is often not reciprocated and there are times where clients literally don’t even respond about a project proposal or invoice submitted.
  3. Downtime is still work time. Evening and weekend hours have become catch up time periods from the week and there is never a moment you can just shut down.
  4. Wage wars. In order to stay in the good graces of clients, I need to constantly compete with the lower costs they are being offered by junior branders. Clients no longer higher talent for the total package, they piece meal it together ruining the industry hierarchy and making junior opportunists and senior executives compete against each other.
  5. Loss of community. Instead of the industry rallying together in a time of crisis and working to find a solution for all, everyone is happy to divide and conquer independently. This may not be a loss of respect as just an unfortunate circumstance.


Why is this happening?

There is a sense of fear that has plagued the working class for a long time. People are tired and hungry. They are sick of the up and down of the economy and feeling helpless with the solutions offered. But they are also feeling very alone in their feelings and due to the nature of the US mindset, we have shut down the opportunity to freely discuss and instead locked the door creating an isolationist society; all for one instead of one for all.

There are also so many unknowns that just keep popping up, it is hard to keep up with, especially in the food industry. Global warming effecting food costs, health insurance becoming a requirement and certainly the wage demands have all played so negatively into my industry it has started to really beat up everyone. We are becoming cynical, myself included.

Also everyone is overly taxed. They are pushed and stretched with their projects, forced to do the work of more than 1 person (sometimes even more like the work of five). Conference calls and meetings fill up everyone’s day and when there is a break it is usually because you are on a plane to somewhere to be at a meeting the following day. Emails are responded to in short instead of in a thoughtful articulated dialogue because the only time you can respond is from your bed at 11pm at night, the bathroom, the plane or the short break between meetings. It is out of control. Technology should be giving us more time, not less.


We know this isn’t going to change anytime soon, so the big question becomes: how do you cope with the lack of respect?

I definitely am not an expert and most who know me actually would say it is not even a possibility for me to mitigate frustrating circumstances. I am a hot head; I can’t handle rudeness or someone who knows better, but chooses to walk all over someone else. But here are 5 tips for how to manage:

  1. Don’t play their game, play yours. I believe strongly that you will be in a better mental health position if you treat others as you would hope to be treated, you will sleep better at night.
  2. Stick to your own schedule. Buffer time for yourself and don’t worry about what anyone else does. If they can’t make your call and you have another opening later in the day and it won’t screw up your schedule to change things around, do it. If it does, then reschedule for a time that works for you. Own your schedule.
  3. Assume the worse. If you expect things to be handled poorly, you will be so happy if they turn out better than expected. Being disappointed is such a terrible feeling.
  4. Breathe into the frustration. Breathe out calm and targeted positive emotions and take the ownership around centering yourself, forgetting about all the rest.
  5. Build a team you love. At the end of the day it is all about enjoying what you do and being around the people that you can do it with. Don’t compromise and work for or with people that don’t respect you. Stand tall and eventually it will come back around as it should.

It is a Friday afternoon and I was meant to be done for the week at 4pm, but #1 in this list of scenarios played out 7 minutes into our 3pm scheduled conference call and I now have to wait until 4:30 to start the same call, likely finishing at 5:30pm. So, I have taken a deep breathe, recentered myself and just spent the last hour enjoying my own time while I wrote this article. And then when the call is done I am going to scoop up my little girl and take her out to play. Exactly what I should be doing.