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A little respect can pay a lot in dividends

POSTED: October 10, 2009 10:00 p.m.

As a boy of 17, I decided I wanted to be a political reporter. I didn’t have time to wait, so I packed up my tape recorder and headed off to the state Capitol to begin my new career.

I had called the top radio stations around the state and convinced them that for $20 a week, I could provide them up-to-the-minute news from the state capitol. I had 12 stations and $240 a week was pretty big money in those days.

I also convinced the public relations people at the Georgia House and Senate that I was a reporter and, sure enough, they assigned me my own space in the press gallery.

My seat, as it turned out, was next to a University of Georgia student named Deborah Norville. She was a journalism student and was a host of “The Lawmakers,” the nightly report on the legislature produced by public television.

There was something magical about Debbie. She had this effervescent personality that just lit up a room. It carried over to television, where she enjoyed a meteoric rise through Atlanta, Chicago and finally to network television in New York. She is currently the host of the syndicated show “Inside Edition.”

While she hit the big time, she never lost her deeply ingrained Southern charm. When she began hosting on the early version of the “Today” show, I was working for the Georgia Peanut Commission. I sent her a sample box of Georgia peanut products. She sent back a nice thank-you note. She was raised properly.

I interviewed her for a column several years ago and she was just as pleasant as she was when we first met.

A few years ago, Deborah Norville decided to write about the value of that basic value — being nice.

Two years ago, she wrote a book called “Thank You Power: Making the Science of Gratitude Work for You.”

There is both a spiritual and scientific perspective in the book that says showing gratitude to others pays dividends in many ways.

Now, Deborah has written a book that looks at what a little respect will do

“The Power of Respect” is a strong follow to her previous book. She points out that showing respect can have financial benefits in business and can even be measured as a contributing factor to improved test scores among students.

While she quotes experts and has data to back up her claims, there is a part of this book that comes from the Georgia roots of Deborah Norville. She learned it growing up in Dalton.

Think about it, you can recall a time in your life when someone went out of their way to be kind and accommodating. You also remember when someone was just the opposite. But you treasure those noble gestures and would rather forget the others.

Respect and gratitude are learned behaviors. For those who learned it early, it pays long-lasting dividends.

Deborah Norville has reminded us again that in the game of life, good wins over bad every time. It’s pretty basic, but at the same time very profound. A little respect goes a long way.

Harris Blackwood is a columnist for The Times. His column runs every week in Sunday Life.



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