Allow Others Their Dignity

by Pete Ferguson

Last night we had a great block party with friends and neighbors. As the evening settled in, we roasted marshmallows and enjoyed the sunset across the orange sky.

One of the reasons the sky is orange is because of the number of fires in Utah, 13 concurrent fires as of the news report this morning.

It was somewhat unclear if our bounteous supply of fireworks were going to be enjoyed – restrictions had been posted for open fields and given that we are in an unincorporated area, we weren’t sure if residential fireworks would be allowed.

We stared with our favorite 300 projectile arial display. It was loud, bright, and shot up far into the sky. When the smoke cleared we saw a Sheriff’s vehicle rolling towards us. At the time we weren’t quite sure if we would be facing a fine, confiscation of the remaining several hundred dollars worth of fun, or if we were just facing a warning.

The deputy quickly warmed to us, smiling and apologizing that the conditions were just way too dangerous, and asked us to refrain or he’d have to come back.

He could have lectured us, he could have recited local code. Instead he congratulated us for a successful party that he wished he could have attended. Throughout the firm, but friendly interaction, he allowed us to retain our dignity.

It reminded me of a friend, Bruce. If I ever get fired, I hope Bruce gets to deliver the news. I’ve never seen someone be able to be so firm, yet forgiving. Serious, but smiling. Respectful.

The few firings I’ve witnessed by Bruce are future facing. “We are very excited for your future opportunities. We know you will be great and don’t want to hold you back…”

I think most people fired by Bruce wake up the next morning not really sure if they were fired or if they had voluntarily resigned and forgotten about it.

No matter what, in my observations, Bruce allows the individual to retain their dignity. And at one of the low points of their life, they are able to keep that one, very important, bit of self-respect.

“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr

Perhaps in your line of business you rarely have to fire anyone, but what other situations are you faced with where you can ensure their dignity is intact?

The best customer service I’ve received are at times where I made the mistakes, did something stupid and could have been called out. But instead, I was treated like a human, given a break, and provided lasting, memorable, and fantastic customer service.

Learn: What day-to-day interactions do you have with others where you can protect their dignity?

Act: If you have a tendancy to lose your temper, resort to sarcasm, or otherwise deprive people of their dignity, create a distraction you can implement to remind you to keep their dignity intact. It may be biting your lip, crossing your fingers. Whatever is needed to create space long enough to be better.

Share: Thank others for times they have allowed you your dignity. Ask for forgiveness of those whose dignity you have not protected.

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2 thoughts on “Allow Others Their Dignity

  1. Very good post. I also live it when people treat me with dignity even though I messed up. I love being able to pay this forward.

    Thanks again for the great post

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