Respect is one of the most important words we can know. We feel it when we read or hear it. We know its significance when we use it. And, as the 18th century icon, Adam Smith said, “We desire both to be respectable and to be respected.” The positive view formed on how persons are living their lives is the stuff of respect.
But as important as respect is, it’s interesting that the word itself no longer shows up with the same frequency it once did. Google Books Ngram searches of its data bases of printed books, indicates usage of the word “respect” is the lowest it has been in over three centuries.
Now is the perfect time to ask ourselves how we conceptualize and demonstrate respect.
Respect and fear are sometimes intertwined when it comes to how they are perceived, however the two are very different. You may think you respect someone or something you fear, but this is not true if insecurity, distrust, or chaos also exist.
The following statements help confirm the difference between respect and fear:
Respect in action is as simple as living by The Golden Rule. You can test this by asking yourself:
“Am I treating others the way I would want to be treated?”
“Are my actions admirable, honorable?”
“Do my actions make others feel cared for, valued, and important?”
Practicing respect looks, sounds, and feels like:
Each of the actions above demonstrate that respecting others is simply treating them as you would want to be treated.
It’s a “chicken and egg” question. Learning to respect yourself does not happen apart from learning to respect others. Other people are necessary in complex social mirroring and feedback processes.
Every human being has intrinsic value and discovering this is a lifelong uncharted journey. We respect ourselves when we find, define and accept our own worth and value.
Self-check on self-respectful actions:
Showing respect for yourself and others is the core of etiquette. It is a simple word, but holds more meaning than the majority of other words in our language. As George Matthew Adams wrote in the Sacramento Union on March 21, 1913:
“Respect is the name of the Fellow who tends door for your Conscience. He is the most sacred Office in life of your Character…Respect is your most faithful of Friends, your greatest Guide, your most powerful Protector, your safest Pilot into Port.”