Albert Schweitzer, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, sought for years for the basis of a new worldview. One Day, while in a boat on the river in Gabon, it struck him with great clarity: ‘Reverence for life’.
To me reverence means deep respect for someone or something, and it is surely not limited to one’s personal life, but also valid in business, especially in business.
Reverence involves a humbling of the self in respectful recognition and acknowledging something other than the self, a subjective response to something excellent in another person to be admired and respected.
‘In ‘A place for the Aesthetic in Experiential Personal Construct Psychology’ psychologists Thomas and Schlutsmeyer referred to reverence as something transpersonal, meaning a phenomenon or experience in which sense of self-identity extends beyond the self to encompass wider aspects of humankind, life, psyche or cosmos.
They further made the case for reverence as being a sign of ‘optimal functioning’. Aligned with this, in 1994, Leitner and Pfenninger, theorised this form of psychology in sociality and optimal functioning, and considered it a starting point for the development of a larger sense of connection with the world and its beings.
But what John Milton, a 1600 century English poet and civil servant for the Commonwealth of England wrote, is summing up perfectly what I try to achieve every day in my own business, that is, looking for those small things in others that would amaze me.
Milton wrote, “Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.
But how is reverence relevant to a business’ corporate image and reputation? Business may be all about profits, but the currency traded inside every organisation is actually respect.
Therefore, the key aspect for organisations to earn a good reputation in the marketplace is to firstly lay a firm foundation of respect. Respect for oneself, respect for each other as co-workers and employees. Respect for those in leadership roles, respect and compassion to those still learning, and most of all, respect for customers and clients.
When people honour each other through reverence, trust is established which leads to synergy, interdependence, and deep regard. All parties then make decisions and choices based on what’s right, what’s best, and what’s valued most highly.
It’s also about realigning the organisation’s internal and external behaviour, and ensuring that its mission, vision and values are shared by the company, its stakeholders and clients or customers.
It’s these days a common fact that the way of doing business in the 21st century has shifted to be more integral and aligned, aiming to serve niche markets in the best possible ways. But mostly it should be truly aligned to who and what you stand for as a business, which would then attract the right customers and clients who will inherently relate with other offers.
To win the respect of others, organisations should be authentic, and deliver more than what they promise. Human beings have a natural ability to detect deception, and will simply not respect you if you advocate something which you are not, or not constantly deliver on what you’ve promised.
Business is surely not always smooth and a rose garden, it’s loaded with obstacles and difficulties, which cause reverence to contract to a fly on the wall in heated situations. It’s challenging, but with empathy and kindness, getting straight to the point and the crux of the matter or difficulty, is what will be most appreciated. Stay on point and deal with it with honesty and integrity, and find ways important for immediate resolutions.
This can be done without being disrespectful or creating animosity if it is dealt with clear communication and mutual understanding, truly listening to what others have to say. When people realise they are being heard, they’ll tell you what’s really important. That knowledge will give a perspective on the situation and also reveal how you can best help them.
People respect expertise. Pick a segment of your business or industry that’s relevant and essential and make it your job and daily routine to learn everything you can about that subject. When you become the expert, colleagues and customers will respect your views when they need solid inputs and good judgements.
People respect contributors, disrespect layabouts, and despise narcissists. Being a contributor means making it your primary goal to help others achieve their goals. It means making every job or project a form of service, to customers, to colleagues, to employees, and to management. The degree to which you can help others is always the degree to which you’re valued and respected.
Earning respect also means setting limit. If you’re given an impossible task, explain upfront what can be accomplished and commit to accomplish that and no more. If someone becomes dependent on your constant help and reassurance, define exactly how much you’re capable of giving. The stronger your boundaries, the more respect you’ll earn.
Remind employees how important etiquette is to doing business. This means no texting or accepting calls during meetings, and being aware of voice volume during cell phone conversations, as people tend to speak three times louder while on the phone.
Take care in how you come across to colleagues and customers and check your behaviour. Your clothing reflects you and your company, so dress appropriately, be prompt and punctual, don’t share confidential information or gossip. As trivial as all this may sound, some organisations have no idea these form an integral part of building a good reputation.
To be truly fulfilled in work and life in general, we need to serve others on a constant basis. I believe, paying it forward by growing people along with education and skills development initiatives are the core roots of growth and development for any company.
As American Hall of Fame basketball player, and former three-term USA Senator from New Jersey, Bill Bradley, said, “Respect your fellow human being, treat them fairly, disagree with them honestly, enjoy their friendship, explore thoughts about one another candidly, work together for a common goal, and help one another to achieve it. No destructive lies. No ridiculous fears. No debilitating anger.”