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Could You Still Show Respect to Someone You Dislike? Would You?

Could You Still Show Respect to Someone You Dislike? Would You?

Do you respect everyone? Would you show everyone and anyone respect, including people who have made mistakes that may seem unforgivable?

Merriam-Webster defines respect as:

  • a feeling of admiring someone or something that is good, valuable, important, etc.
  • a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way
  • a particular way of thinking about or looking at something

However, does that mean if something is not valuable, expensive, or important, respect should be waived? How about someone who is not smart, or maybe not important? What about a working class person with little achievement or social class standing? Does that mean they do not deserve to be treated appropriately?

We see examples of disrespectful behavior in our daily lives. In the online world, we see individuals who are targeted with negative hurtful comments, from strangers who don’t even know them. An ex-convict is viewed differently and perhaps even looked down on for their past doings even if they are changed a change person now. The poor and homeless are often given less respectful treatment than the rich and privileged. A well-dressed person is treated more politely and more welcomed than someone who dresses casually.

Respect, in Reality

At home, in our neighbourhood, at our school or workplace, we are constantly in the presence of other people. This means that we need to interact with one another at some point, if not on a daily basis.

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There are those who click with us naturally and those we take an immediate liking to when we first get acquainted; there are also those we dislike from the first instant, and the connection never seems to improve no matter how much we try. Then again, there are those who have such negative attitudes and behaviour that others turn their backs on them.

When we come face to face with someone we dislike or hate interacting with, how do we still maintain the same amount of respectful treatment as we would with others? How about someone who habitually behaves rudely and has a bad attitude? What about someone who refuses to take responsibility for their actions and/or inactions, constantly pushing blame and running away from accountability?

Or worse, what if we have to interact with someone who is bad but they don’t realize they are the problem? What about selfish and manipulative people? Compulsive liars? Or those who make you hate them to the core?

Should you still demonstrate respect to them and treat them with smiles, politeness, and dignity? Can you bring yourself to do it? Would you even want to?

Some of us may believe that a person who does not respect others or even themselves in the first place does not deserve to be treated with respect in return. However, the perfect analogy would be when someone hurts you or steals from you: would you hurt them back or steal from them to show them what they deserve?

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Think of someone who has treated you with disrespect. Would you treat them with the same disrespectful behavior simply because they don’t know how to respect themselves and others? If we did that, what would the difference be between us and them?

How Practicing Respect Can Change You and Your Life

Believe it or not, we practice varying levels of respect to different people we come across. Ironically, we tend to show strangers or people we barely know more respect than people who are close to us, like our family members. We are more polite and say nicer things to our neighbors or colleagues or even the grocer than our spouses or siblings.

Respect is an innate trait and attitude we ingrain within ourselves. It is not something we have to see coming from others first before we start practicing. Respect is independent of human nature or external reasons.

Respect, like trust, has to be earned, no doubt, but when we are gracious enough to bestow the respect to others first, even when they don’t deserve it, we are essentially practicing respect towards ourselves and showing others how to respect us appropriately.

If you have difficulty showing respect to people whom you cannot stand at all, here are some tactics you might want to explore and practice rather than trying to persuade yourself to cool down or lose it each time you face the individuals head on.

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Practice Mutuality

Be sure to maintain a mutual space between each other, and practice mutual respect to others, if not with one another.  If you cannot be friendly with someone at work, at least be professional with them. If you cannot stay polite with someone in your social circle, maintain a safe distance so your interactions will be limited.

When you dislike someone and cannot treat them with respect, they will usually feel it and reciprocate the same in return. This then feeds into the negative cycle. However, when we practice mutual space and respect to people, even those we dislike or cannot tolerate, we are not only building on our tolerance, but also demonstrating our graciousness by showing others that we respect ourselves enough to not be on the same page as them.

Accept Differences in Individuals

We are all different beings. Who you are and who the other person is are completely different. You are not defined by one another — nor are you defined by their actions, characters, behaviors, and attitudes.

Accepting the differences and gaps in individuals may be hard to accept for some, given our variances in backgrounds, upbringings, cultures, education, beliefs, mindsets, and environment, but every step or finding is a learning journey for us in our lives.  Adapting to and learning from different people and situations will not only expand our vision and perspectives, but also broaden our understanding with more acceptance.

View Situations Objectively

When you have issues with maintaining mutual respect with individuals whom you can barely tolerate, try to learn to not be affected by their presence and to not take things personally. Try to view the situation (instead of the person) with objectivity.

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Perhaps the individual’s personality is a certain way that grinds on your nerves, and they can’t really help it. Rather than being affected negatively by who you are dealing with, focus on the situation. Deal with the issues and circumstances instead of with the individuals involved. This will make matters easier and more manageable.

In Other Words

There is no one or definite way to treat anyone. Mutual respect is key.

We are all worthy and deserving of respect for who we are as individuals, regardless of our social class, achievements, personality, dress sense, intellect, or even our physique. When we practice respectful behavior toward others, we are in fact respecting ourselves, and demonstrating to others how we want to be treated in return. When you respect yourself, others will respect you too.

Featured photo credit: Tennis shake hands after match via upload.wikimedia.org

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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