When practicing deference in the positive sense, I yield, acquiesce, let you go first, act in respect. In the less positive or negative sense, I submit, am complaisant, or am docile. In a neutral sense, I say “Hello” or nod to acknowledge another’s presence.
In the family, children defer to the wishes of their parents, and parents try to teach their children to cooperate and re-enforce the pause when it’s appropriate. Parents hope their children are civil, kind, and with help and guidance from them, socially practiced. Children are taught how to address adults, including grandparents and other relatives.
In the workplace, when behaviors become too relaxed, persons can become deferent to others who, for the sake of keeping the peace, unintentionally defer to bad behavior. A laid-back environment can be positive, to a degree. But when people are not practicing deference by employing good manners and courtesies and fail to maintain respect for workplace rules, a company risks loss of productivity, and leadership roles can blur.
In choosing to be the person you want to be, hard choices present themselves. Many a person has wished that they would have deferred to taking the high road rather than one of acting on a momentary emotion.
Self-command requires practiced knowledge of deference. Knowing how to show up recognizably respectful is the skill set that includes showing deference in social relationships and in the workplace.
Examples in showing proper deference:
Deference to authority is a common characteristic and necessity in society. The right time to speak up, even push back, varies from society to society and situation to situation.
In both personal relationships and business life, people need a polite avenue to provide different perspectives, and even challenge the status quo. Discovering the insiders’ knowledge of when and how to defer is part of the new employee’s learning curve and an ever-present challenge in personal relationships.
“Deference is the most complicated, the most indirect, and the most elegant of all compliments.”
~ William Shenstone