Thursday, January 8, 2015

Contract Agreements Need More than a Signature; they Demand Integrity!

"Art Show"  two of my paintings available at
We’re hearing a lot about respect these days. Do the “cops” respect blacks? Do blacks in general respect police officers? When people disagree with the President, is that showing disrespect? I’ve listened to the arguments on both sides.

I saw the NYPD turn their backs on the mayor who they felt was culpable in the killing of several police officers. I heard the angry mobs shout: “What do we want? Dead cops!” 

Finally, a lone voice spoke up. A voice addressed to both sides. “Respect must be earned,” he said. “Respect comes when both parties feel that their concerns are being addressed.”

Instead, what we got on the public stage was a “shouting match.” Even hard facts were ignored in deference to emotion.

Trust is another one of those words. We all want it. Some of us think we deserve it. But trust is a condition that exists when both sides feel they are being listened to and heard. Trust is not given out like a smile; it should be tested and proven. Like respect, trust must be earned. When both exist, it is because both sides have met half-way to make the relationship work.

"A Joyful Heart"  Pastel on 11x14 bristol; matted and ready to frame.
I did a writing project some years ago for a man who belonged to my church. Because of the so-called “spiritual connection” I gave him my trust and accepted him at his word.

When the project was finished, I turned it over and expected a check in return. Come to find out, he had messed up his end of the negotiation and “connected” with a person who had no authority whatsoever. The person in charge had already commissioned the project from someone else. As a result, the friend who hired me refused to give me payment.

I viewed it as a lack of integrity. After all, I had put in my time and kept my part of the agreement. Turns out he did not have the wherewithal to pay me. All he had was a dream and a slick sales pitch. I regretted it, but I had to take him to Small Claims Court to get paid. By the time I received my commission minus court fees, it was a pittance. In addition, I’d built up an enormous amount of resentment toward him.

When people make promises they know they cannot keep that is a lie. When people lie to us, we can no longer respect them. When respect goes out the window, so does trust.

Here is the formula for success:  Integrity = respect + trust.  In the reverse: Lies = lack of respect, lack of trust, and a broken relationship.

"Fish Market" acrylic on canvas
Trust and respect have nothing to do with color. There are almost as many black cops as there are white ones. Respect is a way of treating others. But here’s the kicker. You cannot give respect to someone who calls you names, abuses you or threatens your life. It is impossible!

Trust is a gift people give you when you treat them well, and you’re upfront and honest with them in your dealings. You cannot trust someone who calls you names, lies to you, threatens you, or harms you in any way. It is impossible! On the other hand, they cannot trust you if you have broken the law and refuse to obey authority. In other words, by your actions, you have not earned their respect.

Do you see how important integrity and honesty is in your dealings with other people? Oh, sure you may get away with a lie here or a punch in the nose there, but sooner or later it’s bound to catch up to you. When you use bullying tactics on others it may turn against you in the end. When you persist, don’t be surprised if someone or something puts a stop to it one way or another. 

Trust and respect is a two-way street. If you refuse to cooperate or listen to what others have to say, it’s like putting up a road block. If you know you’re in the wrong and you refuse to make things right, you’re simply making matters worse.

"Tansy's Pride" pastel on 11x14 bristol; matted and ready to frame.
Agreements cannot be made when there is a lack of trust or respect between the interested parties. If one side is willing to compromise or cooperate and the other one isn’t, you cannot reach a consensus. Only if both parties are willing to put their grievances down can you move forward into reconciliation and resolution. 

When my former employer made known that he was unwilling to keep his end of the bargain, I had no choice but to pursue him legally in order to get paid which is what we had agreed to. Lesson learned: Get things in writing and ask for half the full amount up front as all contractors do. It’s only common sense!