I remember attending a literary function once where I saw an old writing teacher of mine. She was standing in a group with a pretty famous author, and she herself had had several novels published. I was thrilled to see her again, and walked over to say hi. She cut me dead. She knew who I was – she greeted me coldly by name – but apparently I was not of sufficient standing to join her group. Ouch. By contrast, however, the pretty famous author was gracious in including me in the conversation until I could bow out without too much embarrassment.
It is all too easy to belittle other people. As the late business leader James Strong wrote in an article in The Australian Financial Review in 2010, leaders all too often espouse respect while treating those that serve them – such as waiters – with distain.
Eye contact, a smile, a greeting or farewell, a welcome and an introduction, not to mention a please, thank you or excuse me: these are the simple currency of respect that everyone deserves regardless of their job or status. If you believe in respect, make sure you dispense it evenly.