Karin’s Leadership Articles

You care deeply about breakthrough results. This guy’s a jerk. No no, not just annoying, a poster-child good blocker. You’ve got stories.

Be careful. Two disrespects don’t build respect.

In full disclosure,  I don’t have this mastered. The worst moments of my career have come from the times I let the one or two really nasty, disrespectful (I’m tempted to say “evil”) human beings get underneath my skin and bring out the worst in me.

I’m learning to respect myself enough to seek to find something to respect in even the most ridiculous human beings. The process is important. When I look hard enough it’s often amazing what good or reason is lurking beneath the surface.

5 Ways to Respect People You Disdain

“If we lose love and respect for one another, this is how we finally die.” -Maya Angelou

1. Hang Around Them

“Really Karin, are you crazy? What about the wisdom of being the sum of the people you spend your time with?” Okay, okay, don’t EXCLUSIVELY hang around them, and don’t let their nasty ways rub off. But there’s something to be said for propinquity. Investing time in the relationship may surface an additional understanding.

2. Take the Balcony View

I love the wisdom of William Ury shares in The Power of a Positive No to extract yourself from the emotions of the situation and consider a more objective view.

The balcony is a detached state of mind you can access anytime you chose. Imagine yourself for a moment as an actor on a stage about to speak your line– your no. Now picture yourself up on a balcony overlooking the stage, a place where you can see the scene clearly from afar. The balcony is a place of perspective, calm and clarity.

The balcony is a great place to look for reasons to respect.

3. Stop Dissing them Behind Their Back

It’s impossible to feel genuine respect, or even treat people with respect, if you’re talking poorly about them to yourself or others.

4. Engage Real Conversation

Encourage them to share their opinions and really listen to what they have to say. Try having a conversation with the sole intension of really hearing them (rather than responding with your views). Look them in the eye. It’s amazing how often that will encourage them to respond in kind.

5. Seek Out Positive Views

Look for people who do respect this individual and find out why. There may just be more to him or her than you’ve seen so far.

Respect brings out desirable qualities in ourselves and others.

Respects begets respect.

Let’s keep trying.

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Terri Klass

    You are so brave to tackle this subject and I give you credit for being so honest yourself.

    We all come across people we have no respect for and keeping our calm and professionalism is key. I once collaborated with someone who I lost respect for early on. I did complete the project, made the presentation but moved away from her when I could. I find that when we have bosses or co-workers who don’t show us respect, it is best to kill them with kindness and never allow them to join our world in any meaningful way. Keep them at bay.

    I love the “balcony” metaphor!

    Thanks Karin!

    • Karin Hurt

      Thanks so much. Terri, I’m with you the kindness thing can go a long way. If they still act jerky after that, at least they probaby feel silly about it.

  2. Nicole Coxton

    Thank-you Karin for your perspective, hoenesty, and advice. I have always found it hard to respect those that are on the attack.

    I appreciate this post and found the “balcony view” and to seek our positive views will help me as I work towards building positive relationships with those that are challenging.

    • Karin Hurt

      Nicole, So awesome to hear from you. Thanks for sharing your perspctive! Yeah, I though Ury’s concept of the balcony was useful. We’re using his book in the MBA class I’m teaching on managing difficult people.

  3. Bill Benoist

    Hi Karin,

    I learned an exercise this week similar to your balcony view.

    Position two chairs facing each other. Place a third chair to the side/middle that can observe. Sit in the first chair as yourself and reply the situation from your perspective – you know, the perspective that was the correct one :-).

    Next, sit in the chair across and become that other person. Essentially, you become him/her. You see everything through their eyes.

    Next, you sit in the third chair and become still another person – someone you don’t even know, who is disassociated from the event and observes the situation. (Make believe the person is from another planet)

    Final step, go back and sit in the first chair with your new knowledge and see if things look different for you.

    Personally, I found this to be quite powerful in ways of looking at things differently.

    Thanks for a great post!

    • Karin Hurt

      Bill, that’s an AWESOME exercise. Thanks so much for sharing. I’m going to use that in my MBA class tomorrow! It sounds perfect.

  4. Tammy

    Funniest, yet I can so relate to, comment: I’m learning to respect myself enough to seek to find something to respect in even the most ridiculous human beings.

    I’m scratching my head a lot with this one too…. 🙂 Thanks for the smile!

    • Karin Hurt

      Thanks, Tammy.

  5. Jon Mertz


    These are challenging situations and take extra effort to keep the working relationships working. In developing these challenging relationships, keeping focused on the purpose-filled outcomes is a must. Being civil in all is necessary. Being mindful of our reactions is essential. We must remember to breathe, focus, and smile.

    At some point, however, life needs to move on, and it may mean moving on to other organizations and a better culture.

    Thanks for addressing a tough, real topic.


    • Karin Hurt

      Thanks so much Jon. That’s a really important way to think about it. Keeping an eye on purpose is so key. And you are so right, at some point we all have choices to stay or go.

  6. LaRae Quy

    Perfect timing…I needed to hear this today!

    I am so tempted to tell someone what I really think about them, and in the process a few explicatives would come out 🙁 Your post reminded me to take the high road…

    As they say, “Keep your friends close, keep your enemies even closer.”

    • Karin Hurt

      LaRae, Wow… sounds like a great story. Sorry to hear you’re dealing with all that.

  7. Steve Borek

    I like the question.

    I rarely have this thought. When I do, I ask, what this thought says about me? Or, what can I learn from them.

    Propinquity. I had a hard time saying it let alone knowing what it meant. Looked it up. I like the word.

    • Karin Hurt

      Thanks. I learned the word “propinquity” in high school when my high school church youth director tried to convince me that I was in love with my boyfriend only because of “propinquity” meaning that we went to the same school. Ridiculous. It was first love. But we did both move on, but got to keep the word 😉

  8. Alli Polin

    What a struggle we can all relate to! Good ideas here. Like you suggest, I’ve advised people to let that person they can’t stand in… all the poking around is sometimes because the door is closed and they want in. Not always easy but sometimes the best path to take.

    • Karin Hurt

      Alli, Love your imagery here. So agree, often there wacky behavior is a strange way of expressing the need for inclusion. Thank you.

  9. Bruce Harpham

    There’s another reason to follow this suggestion: “Stop Dissing them Behind Their Back”

    Speaking negatively often reflects on the speaker!

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