The Tao Te Ching tells us:
When people lack respect,
Tao Te Ching, Chapter 72
The Tao remind us of the subtle energies that make up all existence. Consciously or unconsciously, people sense these energies and know when respect is missing, when they are being devalued. Morale suffers. Productivity declines. A company that does not respect its employees and clients will not keep them. An atmosphere that lacks internal harmony invariably drives people away.
When I was in graduate school at UCLA, I worked in a new Creole restaurant in Santa Monica. With its spicy food and upbeat atmosphere, the restaurant made a promising start. The waiters were aspiring actors who would often dance, burst into song, and exchange lines from popular shows. Working as cashier was a pleasant diversion from my studies.
But then then restaurant owners had an argument and stopped speaking to each other. Things fell apart. First we didn't get our paychecks on time. Then the customers stopped coming.
"How did they know?" I wondered. The place looked the same, the staff was the same, and the food hadn't changed. But something was wrong with the energies. In three months, the little restaurant closed its doors. The lack of respect between the owners had destroyed it.
What about you? Are the energies at your workplace respectful or disrespectful? How can you tell—and is there something you can do about it?
An earlier version of this lesson appeared in Dreher, D. (1996). The Tao of Personal Leadership. New York, NY: HarperCollins.