Why Respect is the Small Word With Big Importance in Relationships
PHIL: A relationship without respect is like sand in your salad. So let’s see what you need to do to give and to get it.
Respect has several meanings. One is “due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others,” and this can be seen as an obligation: “You need to respect your elders,” something antithetical to freedom and independence.
But respect is not an obligation; it is what you do to make the other person feel comfortable, feel seen and heard, because isn’t that what you would want from them?
I don’t think that respect comes automatically; There can be times when we act without considering what effect it may have on others when we have insufficient empathy to make this happen.
But if we evaluate every word and action according to how it might affect others, then we have abandoned our autonomy and sense of self. What a dilemma! Yet this is the human condition; we live between the twin poles of being a saint, dedicated to caring for others 24/7, and being a sociopath, only concerned with self-interest. So respect consists of making space both for yourself and for others. How would that feel if it were me? And the trick is to find fairness in the situation; to care for the other person while staying true to yourself.
Another meaning of respect is the admiration of another person’s talents and skills: “She was widely respected in her field.” In relationships, this means appreciating the other person, whether for their innate talents or for what they bring to the relationship. Such appreciation should be expressed. Doing so makes it clearer to you and you feel more appreciative of the other person. Speaking about it also makes the other person feel good, makes them feel appreciated, and may even raise their self-perception.
So respect for another person is both giving due regard to their wishes and admiring them for their nature and talents.A relationship without respect is like sand in your salad #quote #relationships Click To Tweet
MAUDE: A less frequently talked about, but equally important aspect of peaceful harmonious relationships, is respect. Respect need not be based on accomplishments or be earned. It is something we offer arising from an awareness of our kindred nature. We offer respect for each other’s uniqueness, individuality, and commonality.
It is easiest to practice respect within our deepest and most intimate relationships. This is the arena in which we learn how to do this; where we can feel assured of sharing the same values, and of feeling loved and safe, making respect easier to offer. As we learn to be respectful, and to come from that premise, we will slowly be able to spread this aspect of peaceful relating to those with whom we do not share meaning and value. Even when this is the case, we share all the most basic characteristics, even with those who have not yet learned to act in a respectful manner.
What does respect between people in their relationships mean? What does it look like and how does it feel to give and to receive it? Each of us would probably answer this a bit differently, and yet there are qualities that remain the same, whether or not the behavior showing those qualities varies.
We can look at those qualities from the viewpoint of what they are not, as well as from what they are.
Respect encompasses honoring the other while feeling connected to them by the similarities of nature. It leads to an expression of acceptance and appreciation of their “otherness”. It has a basic understanding of the Golden Rule of “do unto others…” built into it. Respect for another leads to allowing for their will and their choices to be different than your own and an attitude of non-interference with those differences. As you grow in your practice of respect, you will find you are learning a lot about yourself from these close interactions with that “otherness”. It often engenders fascination with getting to know and understand how something so basically different can be the same.
Avoid behaviors that are no part of respect. There can be no scorn felt or expressed in tone of voice or body language; no rolling of the eyes, no snide remarks, no withdrawal of bodily contact or affection. There is no judgment, especially thoughts of the person being less than you are due to their different choices. You can be respectful while disagreeing, but not while arguing, correcting, or imposing your ideas and decisions upon someone.
It can be difficult to feel respect when someone acts from what you perceive as a lack of values or respect for another; if their actions trespass upon what you find to be moral and correct. Therefore, start expressing respect to those with whom you do share values and with whom you feel both connected to and honored by. You will be spreading peace with every one of these interactions. You will grow in your own inner peacefulness.
The day will come for each of us when we can offer a hand to those with whom we do not feel that trust and still offer respect for our shared nature.
PHIL AND MAUDE: Respecting another person is just a variation on other themes that we write about: differences and acceptance. Different words, but the same idea. To respect someone is to accept them, to give them space, to allow their differences, and more than that, to celebrate them.
Photo credit: Phil and Maude Mayes
Photo note: Stills merged from a video
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