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