Just like wanting to be loved, known, and understood are human qualities, the desire to be respected is also a trait deeply connected to the human experience.
When most of us think about respect, we probably think of the ways we’ve always been told to show respect to elders and authorities. Don’t talk back to your parents, obey your teachers, listen to the wisdom of your pastors, etc.
While all of these instructions are sound in their own right, if respect is boiled down to obedience, it significantly diminishes the important role that respect has in each of our lives. Respect is about more than obeying someone’s commands. It’s about fully honoring the dignity of every human we interact with.
Understanding the role that respect serves in our lives requires a clearer picture of how to show respect, earn respect, and respect ourselves.
Here is what you need to know.
Showing other people respect is all about demonstrating that you value them as a person.
To do that, it’s important to show respect by listening and communicating. Just like people feel loved in different ways, people also may feel respected in different ways. One person may take sarcastic jokes as a sign of established rapport, while another may view it as a sign of disrespect.
It may not be wise to assume that you know what makes people feel respected by you. Show others that you value them and wish to honor them by listening and learning about their individual qualities. When you know someone, you have a more developed sense of what makes them feel like they are being honored.
Showing others respect also involves recognizing where others have felt disrespected.
Each of us is only human, and the chances are good that we’ll probably say or do something disrespectful at one time or another. A genuine commitment to showing respect for others means that we have to own up to it when we have disrespected another person.
Honoring someone else requires that we recognize when they have been hurt, listen to their grievances, and commit to showing them respectful behavior in the future.
Ideally, it would be nice if we automatically garnered the respect of everyone we interacted with, but sometimes this isn’t the case.
Whether it is due to previous experiences, cultural differences, or any other reason, sometimes we may encounter people whose respect for us depends on whether we behave in a respectable manner.
Being sensitive to this certainly does not mean that you should allow people to mistreat you or ignore it when you are disrespected, but it does mean that it is important to be proactive about behaving in ways that warrant respect.
If you want to earn another person’s respect, show them respect first. By showing them respect, you model the type of treatment you’d like to receive from them.
Another way to earn respect is by being responsible and reliable. Showing up late consistently or repeatedly flaking on plans with friends isn’t a crime, but it probably isn’t going to make people want to respect you more.
Whether it’s your boss, parent, or a person you admire, if you desire someone’s respect, follow through with your plans, do what you say you would, and show that you are truth-worthy through your actions.
You know that age-old phrase, treat others how you want to be treated? Sometimes it’s important to understand that the Golden Rule works in reverse, too: treat yourself as well as you strive to treat others.
It’s hard to demonstrate respect for others if you struggle to respect yourself. It may be the case that some of the people who have the least amount of regard for others are that way because of their own deep sense of self-loathing.
Building your own self-esteem is an essential piece in the process of self-respect. It’s important to work through self-hatred in order to take care of yourself and recognize your value.
But it’s also important to practice self-respect by advocating for yourself. If you’re being mistreated, communicate that. Hopefully you would be willing to stand up for another person if you saw them being mistreated, so you have a responsibility to make your feelings known when others do not honor you.
Always remember that you are fully worthy of the honor that you seek to show others.You have a right to speak up when you aren’t being shown respect.
If we truly believe that all people are made in God’s image, that means recognizing the ways that God makes himself known in every unique person. Honoring the diversity of one another and showing yourself that same respect is a true picture of what it means to honor the vastness of God.