How many of you found yourself singing in your head the infamous tune of RESPECT when you saw the title of this blog post? ME TO! Isn’t it funny how our minds have a way of remembering things?
Anyway, this past month I have spent a lot of time thinking about respect. I have had the opportunity to have several discussions about respect, and I have gained insight I wanted to share with each of you!
Respect is more than just tolerance. I see this a lot in our culture. Tolerance is a word I use when my 14-year-old is frustrated with my 10-year-old. I tell her – just tolerate him for a bit and he will get bored and do something different. Yet sometimes in our society, tolerance is used in a way to honor a behavior. “Let us be more tolerant!” Maybe I have misunderstood the connotation of tolerance, but in my mind – it seems to me – that RESPECT is so much more of a loving way to treat each other.
What does it mean to show respect? Below is the best definition I came up with.
Respect is to HONOR and ACKNOWLEDGE
the value and worth of the individual
you are seeking connection with.
That definition seems much more kind and loving than tolerance. Now, to write a definition is one thing, but the execution of it is what makes the magic happen. How can we show more respect to those around us in our lives? Let me share some examples.
(Disclaimer- These tips are meant to build relationships. If someone in your life is deliberately abusive to you, these tips below are not for that situation. These tips are for the people in your life, who you value and who value you. We all have relationships where we can show more respect.)
- Seek first to understand! It is very easy to get caught up in the emotions of how we are feeling about something. I remember a time I had to take care of a situation at work that I felt very passionate about. It was back when I first started at the dealership and I remember feeling frustrated about how the guys would tease each other, then reply to one another about “how gay” something was. Every time I heard this phrase, I could feel my blood boil (It still does). I finally one day had it. I approached one of the guys that naturally was a leader of the pack, and said, “hey can I talk to you about something?” He said, “sure, what’s up?” I told him how when the guys would kid about this, it made me upset. It felt like this phrase was only used negatively, and I asked that they could possibly not say it around me anymore. I was not angry or judgmental when I visited with him, I shared my feelings and he listened. When I was finished explaining he said, “Crystal, I had no idea this bothered you. I will make sure not to ever say it myself, and I will remind the guys to be more respectful. I am sorry.” From that day forward the guys were very mindful of their language. I learned that day that often times, people say or do things they don’t know is hurtful. I had to first seek to understand, keep my emotions in check, have the courage to talk to the person I valued and respected, and the outcome created more respect and rapport. Did it fix everything all at once? No, there were several days ahead, where there were quiet conversations, and gentle reminders to be mindful of how our words, and what we say really does have an impact on the people around us.
- Realize other people have needs that are just as important as ours. Often times when we are having trouble showing respect, we forget that others are working on fulfilling their own needs just as we do ourselves. Each of us have an innate desire to feel like we are connected. We want to feel like we are part of something. In my definition of respect, there are 2 elements that are key. 1) HONOR 2) ACKNOWLEDGE How do we honor someone if we don’t necessarily agree with them? We can love them! That’s it. We don’t have to understand everything to love someone. We can love someone in the space they are in and let them know we honor who they are. There is good in people. If we stand in that space of openness and light – we will see that good. To acknowledge someone else is to know that they are working toward the same goal of feeling connection. One of our favorite sayings at work is “Every person wants to feel like they are a valued member of a team, making a distinct contribution.” This is why I write the blog. I want to feel connected with others, who want more out of life. I want to feel like I am offering value to the world and be a source of strength to those around me. The connections we make in this life can carry us through those dark moments. This past weekend, I went and witness a miracle. My daughter had the opportunity to stand on stage and give a TED talk. That in itself was amazing but what made it a miracle was when she was 2.5 years old, I realized there was something not quite right. After many tests and doctor visits, she was diagnosed, at that time, with PDD – A disorder that fell under the Autism umbrella. She didn’t speak until she was 4. Her father and I got involved with many interventions and tried to provide her with the best care. When her father and I got divorced he married a woman who continued to help with her. When I married Jenny, we continued to battle, with IEP’s and Speech Therapy. This last week, she stood on stage and shared her experience. She graduated from 8th grade no longer needing her IEP or speech therapy services. WHERE was the turning point? It was when her teachers started to focus on the many abilities she has, rather than focusing on what she couldn’t do. It was incredible to watch her stand up there and share her thoughts and journey. I honor all those people in the past 14 years, who continued to see and honor the potential. That is how we show respect to one another- we HONOR and ACKNOWLEDGE the people around us.
- Recognize the world they live in, and the roles they play. Often times it’s easy to tell someone else what they SHOULD do. It’s easy for us on the outside to simply state what needs to happen, without realizing how many ripple effects this has. That classic saying, “You can’t judge someone until you walk a mile in their shoes.” Well, it’s true. Each experience we face, and each relationship we have shapes and molds us. There are things in my world that I may find helpful or harmful that you may not think twice about. It is critical that we honor that history in each person. We cannot expect someone to understand something if they have never had the opportunity to learn it. It would be like asking someone to do a quadratic equation when they wouldn’t even know what that was (PS- I wouldn’t be able to do it either, algebra isn’t my thing). Remember – each of us have roles we need to play in life, and we need to honor that space with those we want to gain more respect with.
There they are, three tips to increase respect in your life. Allowing others to have their own journey, is a powerful gift we can give to those we love. It is so empowering to know that we don’t have to fix, convince, or explain to elevate others. All we need to do is love and show love and respect to those in our circle.
Now – think of someone in your life, who you want a deeper connection with and who you want to show more respect for. Is there one of the tips above that you think you could implement into your daily life? Which one spoke to you as you read it?
I can promise you, as you show more respect to those in your life, you will find more joy, happiness, and connection than before. When you stand in that sacred space of vulnerability, you create deposits into the emotional bank account of the other person. When you share these moments, you are saying to the other person – YOU MATTER! You’re worth it, and who you are is someone very valuable. Can you think of a better gift to give someone? I can’t.
May we all share more true respect with one another. May we move from a place of tolerance to a place of hope and connection. This is my desire for all of us!