How do you define respect?
How do you gain and maintain respect without loosing trust?
And why is it so important to balance these two - trust and respect?
All questions that keep coming up for me when working with horses, and that have so much to do with our human interactions as well...
First, let's look at how we define respect.
Respect is how you feel and think about someone - and that someone can be both yourself, as well as someone else.
Respecting myself is very important.
Only when you respect yourself - your desires, your needs, your own worth - can others respect you too.
This is valid in every intra-personal relationship, no matter if at work or at home.
The biggest problem why many relationships fail, is because I don't respect myself, I don't look after my own happiness, and then expect someone else to come and fill the void. No other person can even give me happiness, if I am not able to acknowledge myself what it is that I need to be happy.
When we talk about respecting others, for example our leader in the office, there is often a fine line between respect, and fear.
That is why I mentioned "trust" at the beginning of this page.
True respect for someone, which is not based on fear, can only go hand in hand with trust.
However, the balance needs to be right.
For example, if you start a new job a leader of a new team, and enter the office hugging and kissing everyone - that would be a very trusting start, yet it would be considered very inappropriate and your team will most certainly not respect their new head.
That means, in the beginning, you first need to establish some appropriate distance and clarify the boundaries, before getting closer to people.
An example for the other extreme could be that you start the new job and in the first few days make it very clear that you are the new boss, and use harsh methods like directly cutting budgets, changing processes in the first days, or even letting team members go. Sometimes this is a necessary requirement, but a boss with this start will have a very hard time to later establish a harmonic atmosphere in the team where people collaborate and give their best.
Most likely, the team members will soon start looking for other positions.
These are both extreme examples, and often the nuances are much subtler.
In our horse assisted leadership trainings, we use an exercise that let's you practice these fine nuances between defining distance/ respect, and allowing nearness/ trust.
You do that by using body language, and you also learn about rising and lowering your energy levels.
This is something we already use subconsciously - for example in the way we enter a room, the way our feet are stepping onto the floor.
Do you slowly sneak into the open office space without anyone noticing?
Or do you make an entrance that makes everyone turn their heads?
In the exercise with the horses, you get an immediate reaction - or no reaction - to the signals you send, by the speed at which the horse moves.
Does it walk slowly, or maybe not move at all because your energy is too low?
Or does it run in circles around you because you are exerting a lot of energy?
And what does the horse do once you drop that energy a bit?
Very interesting to experience for many clients is the fact that without establishing respect, true nearness doesn't work.
Sure, you can go in and pet the horse nicely and friendly, and it might stand there and happily let you do that.
But you won't achieve much by just being nice.
On the other hand, if you first define respect by making it clear to the horse that your personal space is important, that you will respect the horse's private space, and that maybe you can even make it move it's feet (for the horse, that's a clear sign that you are higher in rank - but only if you manage that without being aggressive or using fear as the motivation) - then suddenly the horse will, as if by magic, start following you everywhere by free will and without any rope or halter.
This is an instinct naturally engrained in the prey animal - if it respects you as a leader, if it sees you as a self-confident person, someone who has respect for himself and is calm and assertive, and it trusts you - then all the horse will want is to be close to you and follow you wherever you take it.
It's truly an uplifting experience - contact me today to experience it for yourself and feel how you define respect.
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