The crux of our work is, of course, selling blankets to employ women in a job with dignity. What that means — to me — is that the artisans & administrators from our partner producers (Basha) are treated with the utmost of respect. That they are treated with the honour that would be bestowed on a diplomat, CEO, or celebrity, even if (especially if?) they were recently homeless or selling sex.
That is crucial to our story & our values.
But, what about in other parts of my business? What about in other parts of my life?
When a telemarketer or door-to-door salesperson comes by, is their dignity of utmost importance? Or, do I just want to get rid of that person to get on with my day? Do I resent the interruption, or do I treat the interruptor as I would want to be treated?
In one of the only parenting books I have embraced (well, let's be honest: that I have read at all), Barbara Coloroso emphasizes that in consequences and conflict resolution, the key importance is: keeping everyone's dignity intact.
This week, I received a call from a customer who had a question "about something on the website," and when I phoned back, it turned out it was not a customer — it was a sales call. How do I politely decline when I feel manipulated? How do I conclude our conversation with everyone's dignity intact?
I have also been working with a team on a project who finally delivered their work, 1+ month after I was expecting it, and it was a huge disappointment. I'm angry & frustrated with the work, but how do I express it without degrading the workers who completed it? How do I keep their dignity (and mine) intact?
In some ways, I think that being generous-of-spirit to the downtrodden can be the easiest — there is a lot of compassion & empathy that drives our emotions, and then our actions. But, what about everyone else? What about the people "at the top" who contribute to others' struggles? Do I have dignity for them, too, or only disdain?
I have no conclusions or personal proof, that's for sure. Mostly just questions & reflection.
Dignity: it's on my mind!