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Respect is about valuing people, including people who are like you and those who are different.
There are a couple of ways to look at respect:
Everyone has the right to feel safe, to be treated with fairness, to be valued and feel accepted for who they are.
Respectful relationships are important because:
Respectful relationships also help you feel:
Can you think of someone who you have a healthy, respectful relationship with? This could be a family member, friend, partner or peer. How is this person important in your life and how do you feel about yourself when you are with them? What is it about them and how they behave towards you that helps you feel respected?
How do I deal with differences respectfully?
Being in a respectful relationship doesn’t mean that you won’t have differences of opinion or disagreements sometimes. However, in respectful relationships when differences occur they are dealt with in ways that lead to a resolution or understanding.
For example, people might disagree with each other but they can accept and appreciate that it’s ok to have different ideas, even when they feel tense or unhappy about things.
Conflict or differences occurring in respectful relationships can be worked out and do not have to damage the relationship. Such difficulties may even create opportunities to understand each other more deeply and result in a stronger bond.
Maybe you can think of a time you sorted out a difference with someone close to you. How did you go about it and how has working things out changed your relationship for the better?
Some ways that people in respectful relationships might manage differences include:
In some cases, cultural differences also can mean our ideas about respect may be different to others and it is important to be sensitive and not too quick to judge. For example, eye contact may represent respect in one culture and disrespect in another, yet this difference may lead to misunderstanding between people. You cannot always know about all the different cultural practices. Respectful people will avoid quick judgments and stereotyping. They keep an open mind and are open to learning about diversity.
We all have different needs at different times and, in relationships, it helps to give and take in terms of each other’s needs. This is the case in all relationships, including friendships, family relationships and partner relationships.
So, how are these needs and differences negotiated in a respectful relationship? Respectful relationships:
Imagine you really wanted to go somewhere with a friend, but they didn’t want to go. In a respectful relationship you wouldn’t force your friend to go with you or get angry or try to get them to change their mind or feel bad. You might feel disappointed that they don’t want to go but you understand that you have different needs sometimes and your friend needs to be true to them self. You might let your friend know how you feel so they can understand but you won’t force them to change their mind.
A few things about being respectful:
Respect in relationships happens when you respect yourself and others
Self-respect takes self-awareness, acceptance and sometimes courage. It is about understanding your strengths and limits, and knowing what is important to you. It is also about being aware of your needs, understanding your ‘bottom line’ on certain things and making positive choices.
Can you remember a time when you felt it was important to take a stand on something that you didn’t think was fair or OK? You may have noticed yourself reacting to an injustice. Can you remember why it was important to you? This can tell you something about your values and your ‘bottom line’ on things.
For example, you might want to hang out with the ‘cool group’, but find that they get a kick out of putting people down. If you really don’t agree that this is OK, then to be true to yourself you might decide to speak up or leave.
Sometimes you may have to work on how you view and feel about yourself. Counselling or talking to someone you trust can help with this.
The next step is respecting others. This doesn’t mean you have to admire or like everybody, it’s more about treating others with consideration and fairness. They may not always reciprocate and treat you with the same respect, however, you leading the way is a good start.
While respect can be earned, sometimes people can treat us disrespectfully no matter what we do. There are times that, despite our best efforts, it is not possible to influence how others behave towards us.
When you observe others being disrespectful it’s good to keep in mind there can be many reasons why people don’t treat others with consideration. Often, it is because they have not learned how to respect themselves or have not previously been treated with respect.
If you feel you are being treated disrespectfully, where possible communicate your needs to that person in case they aren’t aware of their impact on you. If this doesn’t help you can try to remove yourself from them. If you cannot move away from someone that is hurting or disrespecting you, make sure you get help or talk to someone you trust. By doing these things, you are showing respect for yourself.
There are no references in this article.
This topic was reviewed: January 2015