What is Respect?

What is respect? Aretha Franklin sang about it in her 1967 hit and signature song "Respect". Rodney Dangerfield claimed he didn't get any of it. But what is this thing that people are looking for called "respect"?

Directionary.com defines respect as:

  • Esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for her judgment.

  • The condition of being esteemed or honored: to be held in respect.

  • To show regard or consideration for: to respect someone's rights.

what is respect

Note the divergence of meaning as you read the above definitions. Let’s examine the first two definitions. It is centered around an attribute of a person held in high regard? It is not about material possessions, but about the essence of the person. What are the attributes of a person that causes them to be respected? It likely centers on that individual's personal core values. The following traits are likely to be held in esteem, or respected:

  • Integrity

  • Commitment to excellence

  • Seeing things through

  • Honesty in the way you treat people

  • Loyalty

  • Respect for yourself and others

  • Innovator

  • Positive attitude?

This is not to say a person must have every one of these things to be respected, or that this is an exhausted list. It is to demonstrate that what is respected are intangible attributes about a person's character, and not the "toys" or material possessions accumulated. So what is respect? It is about recognizing the personal core values in an individual that we hold in esteem or high regard. Also recognized that these attributes are genuinely given or acted upon. To be disingenuous would result in a feeling of disrespect on the part of others witnessing the situation.

Note in particular one of these attributes, "Respect for yourself and others". One way of showing respect for yourself and others is in the execution of etiquette principles. Holding the door, allowing people to go ahead of you, being courteous in conversation, are all things that people will tie back to "respect for others". This is a great way how to show respect but also how to get respect from others.

Managing the chess pieces of respect

The last definition is different from the first two. This is about permitting a person the room to be who they are. It is about being open minded, and plays into the notion that respect should be freely given. It is in this environment, then, that you will also expand your horizons, as you recognized that not everyone thinks exactly the same, but that is okay. This is especially true if these new ways of thinking are really a different spin on a personal core value. By providing this latitude, it may open your vista to new possibilities. It is good to be tolerant while examining your own personal core values.

Respect, then, is seeing in others attributes that you admire while examining your own personal core values for the purpose of re-affirming or expanding your attributes.

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