Honor the Absent

(Blog 8) The third step in building Positive Culture is Honoring the Absent.

Check out a quick video about Honoring the Absent here:

One of the most important decisions we make in the workplace is whether or not we hold each other’s name as sacred or as something we can trash whenever we desire. In a funny sort of way, we are everyone’s name. In other words, as soon as one person’s name is not sacred, then no one’s name is sacred. If we hear one person’s name being dishonored in the workplace, then we know that can easily happen to us as well.

Communicate ‘you matter’ is how we want to talk about people when they are present. Honoring the Absent is how we want to talk about people when they are not present.

When we Honor the Absent, we build trust with people who are present. When we Dishonor the Absent, we violate trust with people who are present. Why would that happen? Because if I have the reputation of dishonoring others, people who are present think I will dishonor them when they are not present. Potential requires trust. If we are serious about developing potential, we have to be serious about maintaining and building trust. It’s as easy as A, B, C.

A) Be a Problem Solver, Not a Problem Namer – Top 20’s look for solutions, they don’t look to blame. The  best way to identify a Bottom 80 problem-namer? Simply suggest getting to work on a solution to the problem…they will run for the hills.

B) Say, “I hear you” or “OK” when someone is Dishonoring the Absent. This lets you acknowledge what someone has said without dumping more fuel on the fire. When you don’t add fuel to the fire you build trust and bring positive energy to the entire culture.

C) Try the Two out of Three Rule. Next time you want to bad-mouth someone, consider doing only two of the three things listed below:

  1. Say someone’s name. (Leave the name out)
  2. Say something negative. (Say something positive about the person)
  3. Say it to someone else. (Tell your dog instead of your neighbor)

Cody’s Comment:

For most of my 40-year teaching career, I was a reliable source of negative “inside information” about others (we would call this “Dishonoring the Absent”). I found this dysfunctional behavior gave me a sense of power (even though it was a false sense of power), it helped me fit in with co-workers, and it fueled my need to entertain others with my sarcastic humor. Since becoming aware (yes, it’s been about fifteen years now!) of the negative impact this had on my life and on the lives of others, I am developing new habits now. People at work still approach me with gossip or with questions about the latest scandal at work. I have earned that reputation over my years there. They are puzzled at times by my new behavior. I frequently respond these days with “I have no idea what’s going on with him” or “I wasn’t there/don’t know what happened.”