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Posts Tagged ‘respect’

The importance of respect in our life was reinforced to me twice last Wednesday. Once in lecture form from my negotiations professor and then later tonight at the ASMP/DSVC event, where internationally known Chicago-based photographer Sandro spoke.

My professor can be summed up in one word: badass. He is a very experienced negotiator so when he speaks, my classmates and I listen. I immediately got ready to take notes today when he started discussing negotiating abroad. He told us that the number one thing you can do when dealing with people from other cultures is learn how to show respect. Even if you botch it up, your actions–just the attempt–creates goodwill. I remember traveling around Europe last year and finding that people were more willing to work with me if I attempted to speak their language, no matter how badly I was butchering it. Even though I’ve traveled to foreign countries before, I feel like I’m coming to Romania with a different purpose, which means that I will need to be more aware of these differences. While what my professor said is common sense, I’m glad I heard it before we leave.

For respect lesson #2, I turn to Sandro. He talked a little bit about how he builds trust with his subjects and shows them respect. When taking pictures of people on the streets, he will begin to photograph them from a distance and slowly get closer until he gets all of the shots he wants. If people indicate to him that they want their photo taken, he stops and apologizes. But when the people allow him to continue his work, he thanks them for sharing an intimate moment with him at the end of his shooting. Such a small gesture goes a long way. His awareness of respect was even present during the lecture. After answering a question from the crowd, he more often than not would thank the person for asking the question. The humbleness exhibited by Sandro was quite refreshing. He’s talented and successful but still down to earth. And I’m willing to bet that the importance of respect in his work is probably one of the reasons that he is successful.

These are all things that Sommer and I need to keep in mind when we’re abroad. Not only are we trying to interview people that speak another language, but they also have a different culture with different traditions. If we forget this, there’s very little chance that we’ll be able to accomplish our goal of reporting the current conditions of the orphanages in Romania.

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