Re: Make it Pretty for the SMEs You Want to Interview

Subject: Re: Make it Pretty for the SMEs You Want to Interview
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 18 May 2001 13:08:11 -0700

david -dot- locke -at- amd -dot- com wrote:
> Ok, I've heard this sentiment way too often here, "It's naive to expect
> respect." Where did this idea come from? It's a great pointer to the root of
> our decline as a society. I respect everyone. You have to work to earn my
> disrespect. I don't extend my trust to everyone. I wish I could. But, here
> again, if you have my trust, you have to work hard to earn my distrust.

I think you may be conflating two different definitions of "respect"

By "I respect everyone," I suspect that you mean that you try to treat
everyone decently. That's a worthy goal, and I share it. However, some
pivotal experiences have taught me that acting that way isn't always
enough to receive decent treatment back. In many cases it is, but not
always. For whatever reason, some people are so disconnected that they
react to their own concerns more than to what is happening around them.
For this minority, your behaviour doesn't matter. So far as such people
notice you at all, trying to behave decently may be interpreted by them
as a sign of weakness. If you can't avoid such people, you may have to
react strongly to get them to notice you, or to prevent them from trying
to push you around. In such cases, it is not only naive to expect
respect, but dangerous to your peace of mind - or, in extreme cases,
your job.

Another meaning of "respect" is admiration and trust for competence and,
perhaps, teamwork. You may have a background that shows such qualities,
but only the human resources department is likely to know about it. And
even HR may be cautious about it, since many people look better on paper
than reality. For most people, respect won't come until you've shown
qualities worthy of respect. In some cases, reacting well in a crisis
may give you a chance to show those qualities, but, in most cases,
what's needed is consistent demonstration of these qualities over
several months. I think that most groups react this way, but,
considering the meritocracy that most developers believe that they are
in, it seems especially naive to expect respect in the high-tech field.

I'm not saying that the situation is ideal. Given a choice, I wish I
could assume that everyone in the office would respect each other. I'm
easygoing to a fault, and such a situation would make the office much
more relaxed.

However, it's important to make a distinction between the ideal and
reality, so I repeat: no matter how you mean the phrase, it's naive to
expect respect.

Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com

"Yes, it's hard love, but it's love just the same,
Not the stuff of fantasy, but more than just a game,
And the only kind of miracle that's worthy of the name,
For the love that heals our lives is mostly hard love."
- Bob Franke, "Hard Love" (as sung by June Tabor)


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