Service of Respect

January 25th, 2021

Categories: Collaboration, Disrespect, Respect, Work, Workplace Disputes

I pluck a vital quote from last week that I hope will be imitated by organizations and companies around the land:

I’m not joking when I say this: If you’re ever working with me and I hear you treat another with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot. On the spot. No if, ands, or buts.” —President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on Zoom at the swearing-in ceremony for staffers of his new administration on Inauguration Day.

I’ve worked at companies that set one employee against the other–not a fit for me. I’m plenty competitive but I work best in collaborative environments. I’ve also worked for magazines or agencies at which bullying and nastiness didn’t exist because management didn’t practice or tolerate it.

For every personality there’s a management style that inspires. To do their jobs some need to be prodded which feels like abuse to me because I know what’s expected and when and try to deliver before deadline. Others do best if they respect–not fear–their clients or boss.

Do you think the administration staffers got President Biden’s message and will abide by it? Was he micromanaging? Are there situations in which such an approach wouldn’t work? In what environment do you excel?


15 Responses to “Service of Respect”

  1. RCF Said:

    I have always found that a mix of respect and praise worked well. Nobody can see when they have their face in the soil.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    If something went drastically wrong at an event I was directing I’d work with the team to fix it and only after, in the postmortem would I address how to avoid the problem in future, pointing no fingers. When I worked for others they’d frequently meltdown then and there instead of immediately righting the glitch. I learned as much from other’s mistakes as from successes.

  3. Hank Goldman Said:

    Well said! We all deserve respect, no matter what side we are on. Of course there are always exceptions. Who is to decide which exemptions? Another tough question! 🙂

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I was a military wife for five years but never in the military however I think even in such an environment respect might partner with discipline. If you listen to Biden’s tone of voice when he said the words I quoted he was no-nonsense and the boss with power to fire but there was no name-calling, just his advice the results of which would be to create a work environment in which people focus on their jobs and not on licking their wounds.

  5. David Reich Said:

    I heard Biden say that last week and was impressed. How nice it will be to have respect and decorum back in government…at least on the Democrat side. Hopefully it will spill over to the Republicans, but perhaps I’m hoping for too much.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    A friend once worked at a company where the owner shrieked and screamed at employees. She admitted he hadn’t yet attacked her but that each time she’d hear the yelling she froze and couldn’t work. While there were no raised voices that I’ve heard of I don’t know how employees in the previous administration functioned when they knew if they disagreed with the boss they’d possibly lose their jobs. Work can be stressful but imagine this layer of anxiety about crucial, sometimes life-saving issues.

  7. BC Said:

    How about stopping the riots out west? That is certainly disrespect!

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    If the rioters worked for President Biden he would surely fire them. Biden is a by-the-rules, let’s talk it out kind of executive. I’ve never heard him urge citizens to get physical.

    From what I read the protesters in Portland represented a mix: “Some people were seen carrying Black Lives Matter signs, while others held banners with anti-Biden or anti-police slogans.”

    That said, he has a lot on his plate at the moment from electrifying a dormant, neglected Covid-19 vaccine distribution pipeline thereby addressing a key component to restore the economy while simultaneously trying to calm and reassure those who didn’t vote for him. Let’s give the man a chance. It’s in the best interest of us all.

  9. BC Said:

    No excuse for not stopping the riots, as far as I am concerned. A simple phone call from him would do it. He surely stopped potential riots from being near him with 26,000 troops! He needs to talk to the Governors and mayors of those cities.

  10. MarthaTakayama Said:

    This post is as wonderfully refreshing as President Biden’s mandate for respectful behavior.
    Everyone functions better in an an environment in which he or she is treated with respect. It is horrifying to realize heretofore unimaginable levels. I am thrilled to be entering an age in which respect hopefully will be permeating our national discourse and our social environment.

  11. Deborah Wright Said:

    Really a very thoughtful blog, JM.

    No, I don’t believe he was micro-managing. He was sending a message to government workers that he wold not be managing (or mismanaging) a la Trump-style. In some work environments, this statement might raise some hackles, particularly in management folks who answer to an upper level manager.

    I was asked if I wanted to go into administration in my district. I answered no right away. I taught because I loved my students–mostly unlovable eighth graders–and I loved teaching literature, poetry, writing, etc. Yes, the money would have doubled. But I would have felt miserable. I am a diplomatic person, but in that position, diplomacy sometimes doesn’t work. I work well in a collaborative setting, but if the majority of people are way off base, I will not go along just to keep the peace. That is why after many years on the curriculum committee, I resigned.
    Theoretically, the administration was to take our recommendations seriously. But in fact they just did what they had intended to do anyway!

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I welcome a calmer, empathetic, respectful approach to life and work. I hope courtesy and manners catch on.

  13. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I knew a very successful stock broker who when he’d travel he visited the factories of publicly owned companies. This was at a time we manufactured things in this country. Management wanted to entertain him in the conference room but he was only interested to meet the workers on the line. He’d ask them questions and learn more about what was going on than from execs spewing boilerplate.

    Your example of the curriculum committee made me think of him although in your case, nobody listened to the line workers–the teachers who knew best. And we wonder why our kids aren’t as well educated as we wished. Meanwhile like you, he too refused “promotions” to management. He liked what he was doing.

    More people should be as centered as you and the broker. Their lives would be so much richer and happier.

  14. Lucrezia Said:

    Our new Prez appears to have chosen to surround himself with a quality staff, individuals with high motivation, along with a busy schedule, with little to no time or interest in nit picking. It’s up to the leadership to set the tone, and it sounds promising.

    Speaking of tones, it’s Mozart’s 265th birthday, another reason to celebrate!

  15. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I echo your observation that he is laser-focused on the crises: Covid-19, the economy and the environment. What a relief that we’re not subject to a lot of back-patting while we slip deeper and farther into trouble.

    You inspired me to check into Mozart’s full name: Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. He had as many as our dad!

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