Right now, we’re living in a rapidly changing world. As I write this, even more change is happening. The events of recent weeks have had a great solidifying — and at the same time a great polarizing — effect on us. Sometimes this duality has put a strain on our relationships — with family, friends, co-workers, and in the world around us.

Before you read further, let me assure you that this is not about taking sides. Of course I have my own beliefs, but this is not the place to air them. No politics here. It doesn’t matter what your beliefs are — even if they’re different from mine, I can still have compassion and respect for you — a fellow human being with your own values and opinions.

Respect is the key here.

What would change in our relationships if respect — mutual hopefully — was at play? When, where, and how can we share our disagreements and differing opinions in a way that leaves the door open for communication and understanding?

Recently, in my own neighborhood, I’ve seen examples of hate and anger, as many of us have. A local brewery/restaurant owner took to Facebook to share his angry, hate-filled, and violent opinions. As a result, people have been protesting in front of the restaurant, rather than patronizing it, and his investors pulled out of the business. I wonder what would have been different if he’d treated the relationships with his customers, his business partners, and his neighborhood with respect?

Now, I’m not saying I agree with this person, not at all. In fact, based on his rants, I won’t patronize his business. Many of my neighbors feel the same. People have said they don’t feel safe or respected here.

Perhaps this is where the line between personal beliefs and professionalism becomes blurred.

Is violent rhetoric and protest okay in our workplace? In the case of the brewery owner, he’s definitely feeling the effects of his actions, and his business is suffering as a result. The fact that he’s still lashing out, instead of respecting the very customers that were making his business successful, is a great example of what can happen when professional respect is tossed aside in favor of loud, aggressive behavior.

What would change, I wonder, if he was kind instead of angry and aggressive?

For that matter, what could change if respect were always part of the relationship equation?