medium_285683410This seven letter word is so important. It will make or break relationships, conversations, partnerships, teams, work environments, families, and any other human interaction we could classify.

Too many people approach others with one of two mindsets:

  • I’ll respect you if you respect me.
  • You have to earn my respect.

Both of these have a problem. The same problem. They are focused on self.

Whenever we put the primary focus on self, all of our interactions begin to become skewed. We now filter everything through that selfish lens. The moment something doesn’t fit our ideal or preference it goes south and usually pretty quickly.

A better way is to offer respect. Period. No caveats, no disclaimers, no if/then statements. Just respect.

Our relationships will be better and more meaningful. Our interactions will be more pleasant. If there is tension it won’t be on our side as often. People will actually like being around us, or at least some will. We will find more fulfillment and less conflict. The conflict that does happen will be easier to resolve and move past because there won’t be the added insult of disrespect to also deal with.

Respect goes beyond being nice and pleasant. It is a mindset, an attitude, a posture toward the other person.

Respect sees the other person as important, valued. It recognizes that they have something to offer. It sees them as human, not a label or category. Respect causes us to find the common ground and then navigate the differences. Respect allows us to disagree, but not be enemies. Respect opens the way for us to listen and accept the viewpoint of the other without becoming defensive.

Respect is not about being a doormat or a pushover. It isn’t even about being passive. Respect is a choice to see each person as someone of value no matter anything else.

Imagine how much better our interactions and relationships in life would be if we infused more respect…




photo credit: Johan Larsson via photopin cc

1 comment

  1. We may also learn that how our lives go depends every bit as much on whether we respect ourselves. The value of self-respect may be something we can take for granted, or we may discover how very important it is when our self-respect is threatened, or we lose it and have to work to regain it, or we have to struggle to develop or maintain it in a hostile environment. Some people find that finally being able to respect themselves is what matters most about getting off welfare, kicking a disgusting habit, or defending something they value; others, sadly, discover that life is no longer worth living if self-respect is irretrievably lost. It is part of everyday wisdom that respect and self-respect are deeply connected, that it is difficult if not impossible both to respect others if we don’t respect ourselves and to respect ourselves if others don’t respect us. It is increasingly part of political wisdom both that unjust social institutions can devastatingly damage self-respect and that robust and resilient self-respect can be a potent force in struggles against injustice.

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