Okay so how many of you read the title of the blog and how many of you sang the title of the blog in Aretha Franklin style? If you did sing it, I bet you added the words, “to me” at the end of it. Notice however that I stopped short of adding those two words. Why? Well because it’s not important you find out what respect means to me, but rather you find out what it means for yourself.
Is respect something that is automatically given or is it something earned? Is it initially given until lost? You may find that your answer to these questions puts you in agreement or conflict when you interact with other people who either hold your view or take a differing perspective.
Respect is an acknowledgement of what is rather than what could be, and an acceptance of that. So you may well disagree with someone else’s point of view, but you can still respect the person. You can appreciate for example how they conduct themselves, how they argue their point with passion and conviction, but ultimately you don’t have to agree with them in order to respect them. One of the most common examples of this in action would be hearing politicians debate issues in parliament. Well, sometimes there’s not a lot of respect shown for each other come to think of it!
Respect is also something you can have for other people, rules, things, property and most importantly yourself. As for property, you may for example be taking a walk around the neighbourhood and notice that the sidewalk goes along the front of a home then makes a 90 degree turn and runs down the other side of the home. Do you follow the sidewalk or cut across the lawn of the homeowner because it’s the shortest route? If you do, you’re not respecting the property of the people who live there as you wear down a path which may cause them to erect a fence to discourage people from following your lead.
In a game, there are rules established so all the players know in advance the conditions they will play under. Break those rules, and you may be penalized in some fashion. This is true too if you have a dress code at work and don’t follow it. You might find yourself being told to leave and return when your clothing adheres to the rules.
But of all the things you can respect in your lifetime, the single most thing you should have respect for is yourself. And so it is unfortunate when someone presents with such low self-esteem that they have no self-respect. I’ve run across people like this; people who don’t see themselves as people of value. And without seeing themselves as a person of value, they consciously allow themselves to be used by others in ways that only reinforces in their own mind that they aren’t worth much.
Such lack of respect for themselves can be very self-destructive, and what’s equally worse is their own aspirations and confidence are low. When they engage in activities where success isn’t guaranteed, they assume from the start that they will fail; fail because it is after all – them. And they feel they don’t deserve to succeed. What a very sad sense of self-perception and lack of self-respect.
Am I describing you or someone you know or work with? If I am, you know how difficult it is to bring about change and learn to respect yourself. It isn’t as easy as just waking up one day and saying to yourself, “I guess I’ll respect myself today.” If this has been ingrained in the person over years, it takes some time to learn how to respect oneself, and to believe that you are really worthy.
So how to start? Start small. Little things for some are huge for others. Think about personal grooming you do daily. When you wake up do you shower or clean yourself? Brushing your teeth and hair, washing your face, putting on clean clothes; these are things that show you have respect for your appearance, even when you aren’t going out and don’t anticipate seeing anyone or having anyone see you. This isn’t about being pretty or handsome, good-looking etc., this is about personal hygiene and in the case of your teeth, it also preserves your oral health.
In the workplace, you often have to have respect for people in other roles, such as your boss. By acknowledging their role as your supervisor, you demonstrate respect for them when you hand in reports requested and in the timeframe given you, or by taking their direction and carrying out assigned tasks. If you are chronically late, take extended breaks, leave early without permission and spend your time doing personal things on the computer, you don’t demonstrate respect for company property and for the job you have. Eventually, this lack of respect could cost you your job.
You are a person of worth and a person to be valued. Whether you have to earn respect from others or find they respect you right from the beginning, I hope more than anything you come to respect yourself. And respect yourself not for what you accomplish necessarily, but just for being you. Yep, R.E.S.P.E.C.T. find out what it means…