Respect: Character Trait

Respect is often seen as an earned thing

How do you respond to disrespect? Do you immediately decide that they are unworthy of any respect from you? Do you try to understand the other person’s perspective? Do you let everyone around you know what happened and spread dirt all over their name? Respect is often seen as an earned thing, but respect is something that you choose to give.

The word respect comes from a Latin word that means “attention, regard, or consideration”. Respect values and honors the other person even if you don’t approve or have anything in common with them. It is accepting the person and trying to understand them instead of trying to change who they are.

When we are disrespected, disrespect is the gut reaction that we often have. It is easier to see yourself as the most important person in the room and the other person like dirt on the bottom of your shoe. Reacting with disrespect doesn’t ever help a situation. Here are several key actions when confronted with disrespect.

  1. Try to understand the other person. Listen to their viewpoint and don’t interrupt until they are finished.  Once you’ve heard their viewpoint, summarize what you heard, and ask if you understood them correctly. This will help ensure that there aren’t any further misunderstandings.
  2. Recognize the other person’s strengths. If you see the strengths that someone has, you are taking your focus off the negative and moving toward the positive things about the other person.
  3. Think before saying or doing anything. Don’t escalate the situation! Will what I am saying or doing make a positive difference? Is this the best time to say or do this? Why do I want to say or do this? Am I truly trying to help the other person, or am I just being selfish in my words and actions.
  4. Your non-verbal communication says a lot. We can say or do all the right things, but people will pick-up on non-verbal cues such as body language and tone of voice.

Without respect, interpersonal relationships will become tumultuous – filled with conflict and misunderstandings. Extend respect even when you are not given respect. People expect to see disrespect when disrespect is given. However, the only way to make a disrespectful situation better is to value, honor, and try to understand the person whether you approve or share anything with them.

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