This is our third installment of an introduction to the 7 Forms of Respect (FoR),™a tool that provides a vocabulary to describe what matters most to you and others. The 7 FoR tool builds mutual trust and understanding by giving people a vocabulary to describe what matters to you and to others. Respect is relative. What is important to you might not be important to someone else.
In this post, we will be going in-depth on “Information” as a form of respect. The others include: procedure, punctuality, candor, consideration, acknowledgement and attention. Information as a form of respect can be described as access to unedited information.
How Information shows up in everyday life
Imagine you’re the CEO of a company engaging in discussions about pay equity. You have always prided yourself on fostering a transparent culture. Some of your senior leaders have suggested that the company publish everyone’s salary as a way to help ensure pay equity. You know there are many people uncomfortable with that suggestion.
Do you publish everyone’s salary? Or does that feel like it’s an invasion of privacy? Sharing salary is legal. And, if you publish, you are giving respect in the form of Information to your employees.
If you don’t publish, you are giving Consideration as a form of respect to those employees who you suspect would not want their salary shared.
This example demonstrates the complexity of creating respectful policies, because people have different expectations or what respect looks like.
Information can look like:
- Offering a lot of extra context and background information
- Inviting people to meetings even when they have no clear role to play
- Copying people on emails just so they are informed, not because they need to do something with the information
- Giving people open access to files so they can look through them themselves
Lack of Information as a form of respect looks like:
- Only sharing information on a need to know basis
- Only inviting people to meetings who have a clear role to play
- Removing people from the copy line of emails if you feel they no longer need to be included
How Information can be interpreted differently
There are many different personal and professional reasons why someone would care about giving and/or getting Information as a form of respect. Understanding your forms of respect starts with asking yourself: why does this matter to me? Many people in our research talked about their families and childhood. Others focused on the demands of their current job function and company culture.
FoR provides a shared language to describe what you need. You’ll be able to use this language to navigate conflict and address misunderstanding. This can come up when you want a particular FoR of respect and you aren’t getting it. You can then share why the FoR matters to you.
Mona was a project manager working in small and medium nonprofits before she was offered a job at a large tech company. Her coworkers started inviting her to so many meetings and adding her to the copy line of their emails. Her Inbox exploded. She thought they were just trying to get her up to speed. After two months, she told her manager how the volume of emails and meetings made her feel overwhelmed . She was instructed to replicate the behavior. To copy other people on emails even if they were only tangentially related to the project. “Aren’t I wasting people’s time by sending them things to read that aren’t related to the work?” She asked her manager.” We show respect here by giving Information. We let people decide what to do with the information. It’s important to keep them in the loop,” her manager explained.
Eric and Leo are peers on a team together and they report to the same manager. Eric shared guidance on a project to Leo over email. Leo had some questions about Eric’s guidance and responded over email and copied their manager. Eric got upset that Leo added their manager to the email chain. He answered Leo’s question and removed their manager from the “reply all.” Leo responded and added their manager back on the copy line. Eric then called Leo, “Why do you keep adding our manager on the email? She’s busy and you’re wasting her time and you’re making me look like I don’t know – how to do my job in front of her.” Leo said, “She told us she likes to be given visibility on our communication. She said she likes to get Information as her form of Respect. I’m not trying to get you in trouble. I’m just trying to do what our manager asked for!” Eric then understood Leo was prioritizing their manager’s needs, not trying to disrespect him.
Our preference for certain Forms of Respect are rooted in our past experiences. Explaining those experiences builds empathy with others. Whenever you work with someone who doesn’t share your same forms of respect, you can use FoR to talk about it. Ask them about their past experiences and who influenced them.
Information is a form of respect focused on offering free access to information and data without the other person having to ask for it. It does not require guiding others to do something with the information. It is giving information for the sake of giving information. If you don’t care about Information as a form of respect, it doesn’t mean you’re disrespectful. It just means you may value privacy and targeted information sharing over transparency.
Check out Dr. Julie Pham’s book, 7 Forms of Respect: A Guide to Transforming Your Communication and Relationships at Work.
Is Information a form of respect for you?
Take the free quiz here.