The One Word Forgotten in the Workplace

I have to admit I struggled with writing this article. My publicist has been pushing me hard: "You're a workplace motivation and culture expert and yet you've been silent on the sexual harassment revolt going on in the workplace!"

She's right.  I write articles about things like how to engage employees when nothing seems to be working, or how to rekindle your own passion for work, and how to be happier at work (and in life) with speed and clarity. And yet I've been drawing a blank on one of the most important workplace topics of our times. More specifically, I've been struggling to think of what I could say to add value to the topic.

I could pound my fingers on the laptop and tell you that the behavior of Weinstein, Spacey, Franken, Rose, Lauer, Piven, Mr. C.K. and on and on (no chance we're done with the revelations yet) is sickening.

But you know that.

I could implore you via written word that "If you see something say something!"

You know that too.

And I'd like to believe that this seismic cultural shift we're seeing that labels sexual harassment as the most deplorable of behaviors that can no longer stand is giving you the courage to speak up. Cripes, if you stop reading this article right here and simply remind yourself of this, that's cool with me.  But I've been wanting to bring something more helpful to the table.

So I was having a discussion with my wife about my conundrum when it hit me--the one word, singular thought this all comes back to. The one word at the core of sexual harassment and (by the way) behind much of why so many in the workforce are still so disengaged.

Respect.

Or a vomitus lack thereof.

Where, for the love of all that's holy, has basic respect gone in the workplace?

In its worst form, lack of respect surfaces as sexual harassment. No way Louis CK, or Matt Lauer, or Kevin Spacey, or Terry Crews' assailant do what they did if they held the human value of always starting from a place of showing basic respect for their fellow man or woman. No way.

But make no mistake, a lack of respect is rampant in the workplace today in many forms. University of Michigan's Jane Dutton indicates that an incredible 90 percent of workers say workplace civility is a serious issue.

I've written before about how you can build 11 Habits of Daily Respect That Are Surprisingly Energizing to Others, and I can assure you it's not rocket science. But it's an art and science that's becoming lost.

However, you can rekindle it immediately, starting by respecting those that come forward with a harassment claim.

By the way, I'm not a sexual harassment expert and I don't want to imply my "fix" would solve all cases of the insidious behavior in all situations. But I've got to believe that this is a great place to start--from a place of non-negotiably having respect for one another. When we do, it almost by definition derails any thoughts of engaging in harassing behavior (of the sexual, or any, variety).

I don't know. Maybe you'll tell me after reading this article that in fact, I haven't mentioned anything new to the table on this subject. But I'd argue that what's old is new again--even though it shouldn't be.

Good ol' fashion respect. Can you help me bring it back?

Just move quick.  Its absence is appalling on so many levels.