Respect, Appreciate, Agree

Goal: Improving existing relationships in business or personal life.

Setting: Almost any.

Practice: Find areas where you do in fact respect, appreciate, or agree with someone you are working with -- and let them know.

An article for job seekers noted, "If I want magical conversations, whether in business or personal interactions, I look for a way to honestly say, 'I respect you,' 'I appreciate you,' or 'I agree with you.' Those three words can sometimes, like magic, turn a discussion from adversarial to collaborative, from cordial to inspired." (Marty Nemko, "Under the Radar," San Francisco Examiner, 1998. Marty Nemko, a career coach and author of Cool Careers for Dummies [IDG Books Worldwide, August 1998] can be reached at mnemko@well.com .)

People like to be respected, appreciated, or agreed with. But the point of this exercise is absolutely not flattery, pretending to like what in fact you don't. The goal is to find areas where you can work well with someone, and focus there. If you really cannot find anything at all, then you probably don't belong in that relationship in the first place.

This practice, like some of the others, can be especially important for those of us who have chosen to set our own life direction. The problem we face is that humans are in many respects herd animals, and being individualistic or different can make it difficult to establish human connections (especially if we erroneously believe that honesty or independence require us to dredge for any disagreements and highlight those). Practices like Respect, Appreciate, Agree provide a kind of model conformity entirely under our control; we can use it or not as we choose. We can participate in the non-conscious dynamics through which human society is built, without surrendering awareness and autonomy, as standard conformity often requires.

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