Respect is Earned

Respect is Earned

Everyone wants to be respected, but it’s important to remember that respect is earned.  A person I know operates accordingly: “I will give you respect, unless you prove you haven’t earned it.  Respect isn’t free.”

Back in the late 1960’s Aretha Franklin’s song, “Respect,” was a national favorite. The song calls out for the major principle of etiquette, signifying two other basic etiquette principles: consideration and honesty. The principles of etiquette grounded in respect, stand behind all notions of good manners and they are timelessly constant crossing cultural boundaries.

Respect is Earned with Respectful Behavior

Consistently practicing recognizably respectful behaviors will be everyone’s aim if they want the respect of others.  Respect, like many feelings, is reciprocal.

The positive formulation of the golden rule states that you should treat others the same way you would want to be treated yourself.  This suggests, for example, that if you want people to treat you with respect, then you should reciprocate.  There is a paradoxical relationship with giving and receiving respect.  You first must give respect and hopefully you earn it.

Questions of Respect and Consideration

Are you showing respect and consideration for others? Do your attitude and actions align with respectful behaviors? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Looking around you, is there a need for thoughtful action?
  • Is there something immediately helpful that you could offer?
  • Trying to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, is there anything to be said or done?
  • Am I working to be open-minded and regardful of the fact that my actions will speak to the person that I am?
  • Am I acting sincerely and truthfully, while purposefully aiming not to embarrass others?

It’s Not an Exact Formula

While typically formulaic in that respect is earned by giving respect to others, humans are inconsistent when it comes to reciprocal relationships.  And when we count on the consistency that many of us expect, especially when this is what we ourselves tend to give, we are often disappointed.

Therefore, it is important to remember the following truisms:

  • Just because you have chosen to respect someone doesn’t mean it will be reciprocated.
  • Some people will never respect you no matter what you do.
  • It’s not wise to try to get others to respect you.  Work to be your best self and earn your own self-respect.

Which relationships in your life are most important to you?  As you write those names down, also list generous qualities they have that you respect.  What might you do to be more recognizably respectful to these friends?

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