Respectfully and Safely Yours

Kindness Organizational culture Respect


Key Point: Personal safety and the feeling that accompanies it is a freedom that we need to fiercely protect whether at work or anywhere.

I remember the first time I was in Tokyo in 1989. I was returning to the hotel after being out for the evening and it was well past midnight. What struck me (there were a string of news stories of women being assaulted in large North American cities at the time) was seeing Japanese women walking home alone, very late at night, and obviously feeling very comfortable. My understanding is that it’s still that way in Japan.

In 2001, I had an opportunity to travel to Israel and it surprised me how much Israelis had become accustomed to massive increased security; no bulky outerwear allowed in the nightclubs, razor wire around the beaches of the resort we stayed at, bomb checking under every car with long mirrors, etc.

The other day I was at a downtown theater in Seattle seeing a family movie. The pre-movie announcement encouraged attendees to: (I’m paraphrasing) silence your phones, refrain from texting, do not disrupt other movie goers with loud talking, and look for the emergency exit to escape… Hmm. And of course, there is the horrendous airport security we have unfortunately come to accept.

I went to a conference last year with about 1,000 people in attendance, and one keynote speaker used the F-word 27 times in his speech (my seatmate counted). Interestingly, he was from the media firm, VICE (now being criticized for its alleged toxic, harassment oriented culture). When I go to my fitness club, the locker room is filled with men mostly in their 30s/40s, using the F-word as a hyphen. It sounds ridiculous. Why talk like that? Hey, I may sound prudish, and people who know me know I use the F-word from time to time. That doesn’t mean it’s right.

I don’t want to come across as self-righteous or preachy. However, I wonder how might we live in a society where:

  1. Anyone can walk anywhere alone and feel totally safe.
  2. We can attend any event and enjoy the experience without looking over our shoulders.
  3. We think before we say and do, first about the well-being of others we impact instead of it being about “me first.”
  4. We invest in treating mental illness with the same vigor as we do physical ailments.

By now you may be scoffing at my naivety. Ok, I accept that, but I still ask “why not?” Why not make this way of thinking and living as something we aspire to, versus the self defeating acceptance that we need to invest in more personal security?  Buy more cameras, more guns, more physical and psychological armor? Why not start a personal safety movement? One of us at a time.

Personal Character Moves:

  1. For those of us fortunate enough to be in formal leadership positions, we can create totally safe and very results-oriented environments. Let’s commit to this.
  2. For all of us, how about being more respectfully present to those around us and take care of the little things? Hold the doors open for those behind us, choose our words wisely, see and really notice others, and listen with inclusive care.
  3. Attack problems, issues, process and behaviours; never each other.
  4. Apologize when we hurt others, which we know in our imperfect way, that we will surely do.

Respectfully committed to a safer New Year,


One Millennial View: Couth and courtesy should absolutely be on the forefront of our minds in professional and personal life, and I imagine for our readers, it mostly is. Otherwise you probably wouldn’t care about the values of the “Character Triangle.” I don’t think this is preaching to you. But as Millennials, we can only control our own behavior, and we cannot expect a “perfect” world where locker rooms don’t have F-bombs, and airports don’t sometimes have real bombs. That ain’t gonna happen. As a staunch supporter of the first amendment, I don’t want a world where loudmouths can’t say whatever they please (of course, there could be social consequences). Still, we can do our personal best to practice better values, and hopefully the freedom to do so will be more influential and attractive to others than the equal freedom to act like a jerk.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis