How often as children have we heard the phrase- “learn to respect your elders”, or “you should respect your teachers”, the answer is quite frequently and, in most scenarios, when those phrases were being said to us, we weren’t really taught how to play out those things in practice. As children, we are taught to respect our parents, teachers, and elders, school rules and traffic laws, family and cultural traditions, other people’s feelings and rights, our country’s flag and leaders, the truth and people’s differing opinions.
However, growing up this meaning of ‘respect’ was often distorted and it got associated with ‘fear’ or ‘obligation’ and as something that we had to do. While as children, each and every one of us might have a different response to the same, some of us may succumb to that fear or some of us may even act out and this behavior in our childhood chooses to have an impact on our future lives. So, what does respect actually mean?
Every person has a different meaning accorded to this seven-letter word. According to me, respect is something that is given first before it is expected. True respect asks us all to take each other as we are and valuing each other’s personal space and beliefs.
The best way that this value can be cultivated is first learning to respect ourselves. How often do we try to brush it off when someone disrespects us? How often do we pretend it’s okay, or avoid confrontation, on the grounds that it supposedly shows you are stronger? The way that we treat ourselves shows others how to treat us.
The value of self-respect may be something we can take for granted, or we may discover how very important it is when our self-respect is threatened, or we lose it and have to work to regain it. We need to be able to understand when something is a joke and when it is a crossing a line, also being smart enough to realize when a situation requires a response and when it is best to ignore the same. If we are able to respect ourselves it truly shows how another person would treat us.
Yet, we observe certain instances where some people may still continue to disrespect us. In this situation, it is important to realize and learn how to deal with such situations. Few ways to employ the same would be:
- Don’t take it too personally: If a person is rude or shows disrespect understand that it is not always against you, but there is the possibility that, that person is experiencing a bad day and this is just the reaction to the same.
- Knowing the right time to respond: Understand whether the situation is worth losing your cool over, and knowing when is the right time to take a stand and express your discontent.
- Lead by Example. Rudeness begets rudeness and is contagious. i.e. If you speak rudely to a waiter, don’t be surprised if you get the same treatment in return.
- Stay Calm: The instinctive response to a rude and distrustful comment is often a ruder and more disrespectful comment. In order to avoid this bloodbath of words, it is imperative to stay calm, take a deep breath and then calmly put forth your point.
- Check your understanding: Sometimes, there is miscommunication and a problem with the way that we may perceive a situation. So, take a beat, analyze the situation from the viewpoint of a third person and then respond.
Concluding the article with a simple thought and the wise words of Laurence Sterne, ” Respect for ourselves guides our morals, respect for others guides our manners.”