“Respect yourself and others will respect you”
(saying of Confucius)
Having completed an evaluation for the trends of the most common areas or issues approached in development programmes, I have assayed that the highest percentage of issues are in the areas of interpersonal dealings including the focus upon – (a) truth or the lack of it; misinformation and (b) respect or the lack of respect.
In a recent discussion with a client, I asked him what he meant by ‘respect’ and how he identified respect either in themselves or in others. What are the behaviours that he recognises as being ‘respectful’?
Firstly … What is respect?
To add some weight to this discussion … some words of wisdom from famous American author, Maya Angelou …
If we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die.
She obviously believed that respect is an imperative quality in living.To begin, let’s go to the origin of the word and examine the Etymology of Respect. Its Latin verb respicere means to; “care for, provide for, consider, gaze at, look back at” or a frequent Latin derivative; respectare meaning “keep on looking round or back, have regard for”.
The root of respect is SPECT, and it is to do with looking (such as in spectacle, spectator, spectral, spectrology, spectrum). But ‘respect looking’, is a special type of looking, because you can put anything into your looking that you wish, and it’s dependent upon what you think at that time. For instance you could look at another with greed, envy or jealousy or conversely with esteem (regarding your value for their capabilities) or care or consideration. So I would say that the greatest respect you can have for anyone is not to look at them with anything in your mind that might diminish them. And in terms of self-respect it is not to think negatively about yourself, to suffer self-doubt or to under-value yourself in your self-thinking.
So genuine respect requires a casting of one’s mind back into one’s memory and recall, to see what one owes the person whom one is looking at. Then, the computation done, and the positive feelings evoked, the respectful results must be delivered to the person as a confirmation of the regard in which you value them.
Thus in summary, Respect is a back-looking computed confirmation of positive value, evoking clean and positive feelings in you, which lead to saying “yes” to the other person. In other words, it is an offered acknowledgement by you, of value maintenance between you and the other person, or you and an entity such as a team or a nation or religion. The result of respect being practiced is that it uplifts both parties with reciprocated positive feelings of value.
The described internal self-process is how resultant respectful behaviour is groomed. Attempting to bring about respect by trying to change behavioural patterns (without the mind patterns) or to enforce expected conduct or behaviour by implementing a so-called ethical code of conduct in a company, is tantamount to trying to start a motor vehicle without a battery.
Secondly … How do you recognise or identify respect?
Respect can be recognised by its prime features and attributes;
You feel clean and decent and uplifted from respectful dealings.
You feel valued because others’ behaviours do not demean you or your time i.e. they respect the agreements they make with you.
You think highly or think well of colleagues or others whilst acknowledging and praising their successes and the value of their contributions.
Clarity on agreements are easily come to with feelings of secure enjoyment that agreements will be executed.
Employees feel supported when making decisions to do the right thing, even when that may mean possibly jeopardising a business opportunity or a business target.
Thirdly … How do you develop respect?
I suggest that these thoughts are like seeds for sowing, and then growing …..
The first point is not to assume that respect is an automatic given. Respect has to continuously be added to and worked for. It’s by making the decision that you want to have that rare, fine, potent and sublime quality of respect as a living, influential value in your life. Without the well considered decision first and then knowing and understanding what respect is, it’s unlikely that any attempted development will be anything other than a vague, fluffy and random association.
Try practising the “internal respect process” described above for appreciating both yourself and for building respectful interpersonal relationships with others.
The more you share the more you have. Share what is good in you and watch it multiply; withhold what is bad and watch it diminish. This is especially true in regard to thinking and dealing respectfully with others. If you think and believe well and highly of yourself, then you will think similarly of others and this gives them the opportunity to reciprocate with similar feeling and values towards you.
Mahatma Gandhi (in Fools, Martyrs, Traitors: The Story of Martyrdom in the Western World) stated “I cannot conceive of a greater loss than the loss of one’s self-respect.” words of wisdom from the ‘prince of non-violence’ and peace. Equally the reverse is true, a greater gain can be achieved for both self and others with the increase and improvement of one’s self-respect and respect radiated towards others. Respect is one of the bed-rock parts of our humanity.
Respect is not imposed (that’s bordering on tyranny) nor begged (that’s a victim’s psychology). It’s earned and offered ….. (Anonymous quote). Therefore respect from another towards you (or conversely from you to them) has to be earned. If in looking at someone you cannot find respect, try offering tolerance and the benefit of the doubt as a foundational starter approach.
Give the gift of a non-assumptive, respectful approach/attitude to understanding someone, and you will come to see a better person.
9 January 2015