Conflict #11 – Respect

During my many years as therapist and program director at a treatment center for teens, nearly all the kids, especially the ones from inner cities, said the same thing about respect: “You have to respect me before I respect you.”

What sort of world would we live in, if everyone followed that belief? No one would respect anyone. They’d all be waiting for the other person to respect them, first.

Before we criticize the youngsters, consider one important fact: all the kids in that program were trauma victims. All had been subject to disrespect, abuse or neglect. Of course they demanded respect, first. They didn’t trust anyone.

What do you think about when you think of respect? Do you think, “Respect must be earned”?And yet, do you believe that everyone deserves to be respected? How do those two ideas fit together?

Maybe the answer lies in this question: Is there more than one kind of respect? I think so.

First, we can all agree to the basic respect that every person – and every living thing – deserves. Ancient cultures, like Native Americans, understand this so well. Some Eastern religions believe that all life is sacred and to be respected, down to the tiny bug and the lowly weed.

Then, there is the respect that we owe to family … just because. Like one saying goes, “The definition of family is, when you knock on their door, they have to let you in.”

Third, the respect we give to official figures appointed by our society with our agreement to have influence over us.

Fourth, the respect we show to people who stand out. Heroes who sacrifice their own safety for the welfare of another. People who have the courage to fight through life’s storms.

Confusion about respect can result in conflict poorly managed. In the course of handling conflict, if you’ve ever noticed misunderstanding about the meaning of respect, I invite you to start a conversation with me. I’m available for a free consultation if you just call 219-309-3928.

Thanks for reading!