Treating Others with Dignity

May 3, 2012 by  
Filed under Conversion, Culture, Faith, Work

One alarming trend seen in many workplaces today is that of treating others poorly. It’s nothing new, of course. Yet don’t we all behave differently when we’re under pressure? And isn’t there plenty of pressure to go around these days?

I’ve been doing a series of “Faith at Work minutes” with the good folks at St. Gabriel Catholic Radio – AM820 in Columbus, Ohio. These one minute reflections are played locally each weekday morning just before 8:00 a.m., and they’re designed to provide just a little bit of encouragement as we begin our workdays. To my surprise, they have been picked up by various radio stations around the country.

As I pray, write these reflections and contemplate how to effectively live our faith fully in our work, I’m mindful of my own need for ongoing conversion. Yet certain themes seem to pop up over and over – and it seems that we can all benefit by striving to improve in these fundamental areas. One such theme is how we view and treat one another in the workplace. Here’s a recent Faith at Work minute on the subject (#44, if you want to hear the audio version):

Are people commodities?

At times, there have been workplaces where employees were treated this way. A couple years ago, I went on a father-son trip with two of my boys to a coal mine in Eastern Pennsylvania. We took a tour of the mine and learned about the various jobs miners performed, including young children. Jobs were in such short supply that if someone was hurt or killed, another person was immediately available to take his place.

The mines were dangerous, and wages were small given the enormous amount of work and risks involved. A mule was said to be worth more than a man, since a mule cost money to replace.

As Christians, we know people are never commodities – we’re all God’s children. Let’s pray for one another, and strive to treat our co-workers with the dignity they deserve.

After all, we are all endowed by Christ with unique gifts. To the extent we treat others with dignity and recognize these gifts, we honor Jesus Himself. Let’s renew our resolve to see Jesus in others, even when it’s difficult.

Have you been treated poorly or with great dignity in your work? If so, please share your story, I’d love to hear from you.

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2 Responses to “Treating Others with Dignity”
  1. Candace says:

    Your topic of treating others with dignity is an important subject, and I would think if practiced in all areas of our life would form a habit of doing the same in the work place.
    Unfortunately I do not regularly see that when getting together with people of my own Catholic faith while sharing a ministry. That surprised me. I have seen and felt the repercussions of not being treated with dignity. It made me want to pull away and isolate myself from certain people. I know from personal experience this kills cooperation, trust, and productivity. Now if I want to volunteer to work in any ministry, I am hesitant to commit if a particular person will also be involved.
    This experience has taught me that the disrespect we give one person can affect many others, because we have hindered God’s gifts they might share. I am still working on getting over the pain of being mocked and humiliated in front of others. I pray I will find the strength to start again.

  2. Kevin says:

    Candace, thank you very much for sharing your story – it’s a painful reminder that our momentary failures in this area can cause lasting negative effects. We can all treat people with greater dignity, I work on this daily.

    Happily, I’ve also seen instances when the opposite is also true – a momentary positive interaction, an unspoken prayer for a co-worker, a word of encouragement – these can also have lasting effects. Let’s pray for one another, and strive to treat someone with dignity today… even if we don’t feel like it!

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