I Was Raised To Show Respect

It would be difficult to hear the word “respect,” or see an article about respect, and not think of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who sadly left us recently at age 76.

Aretha had an extraordinary career, winning 18 Grammy Awards and selling more than 75 million records worldwide.

Of course, her signature song was entitled, “Respect.” And the most familiar phrase of the song is:

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me

If there’s only one thing we take from this song, it is that respect is important. But what is respect, exactly?

Let’s explore this a bit more, shall we?

How Do We Show Respect For Others?

So how do we show respect for others? What does respect look like? How do we know it when we see it? How do we recognize when it’s absent?

Well, there isn’t space to mention all of them or even most of them, but here are 6 ways to show respect for you to consider and hopefully put into practice.

1. Listen

Listening to what another person has to say is a basic way to respect them. Everyone wants to have their say. Everyone wants to feel that they’re being listened to. Whether they have something profound to say is not the point. People want to be heard… period.

When you give another person your time and your focus and your ear, you validate them. Which conveys respect.

The provision of human rights begins when those who have not listened to a particular segment of society begin to listen. All social change begins with dialogue. Civil dialogue.

Until you listen to another person’s concerns, you will not know who they are and what’s important to them. Respect begins with listening.

2. Affirm

When we affirm someone, we’re giving evidence that they matter. That they have value. That they’re important. And that they’re worthy of respect.

Simply affirming someone virtually guarantees that you respect them. To affirm someone, you just have to notice something positive about that person and verbalize this observation.

“You’ve shown great determination over the past 2 years to get your business off the ground.”

“You were incredibly patient and understanding when dealing with that difficult situation.”

“You make me smile every time I see you.”

You may not respect every aspect of who they are and what they do, but you can give them appropriate respect at the level that affirms them. Affirmation is a key way of showing respect to others.

3. Serve

English-American poet W.H. Auden once said that, “We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I don’t know.”

Life on earth is about serving others. In fact, our professions, our careers, and our jobs should revolve around a desire to serve others. To give back to others. To use our talents and abilities to make life better for others.

Serving shows that we care. And caring shows that we respect. Serving is an important element in showing respect.

4. Be Kind

Though kindness and service are first cousins, they aren’t identical. We can serve without being kind. But it’s very difficult to be kind without serving.

When we’re kind to someone, we’re giving of ourselves. We’re giving something they can use. Maybe something they need. Maybe something they need desperately.

Kindness is an expression of respect. Respect for the fact that someone else is simply in need. We have all been in need. And what a relief it was when someone showed us kindness. Kindness is a tangible way of showing respect.

5. Be Polite

It’s appalling to witness the decline of politeness in the modern world. Whether it’s on the highway, at the grocery store, in the parking lot, on the athletic field, on Facebook, or in political rhetoric – polite discourse and interaction is rapidly becoming a lost art.

Yet, it’s so easy to be polite. And it’s so inexpensive too. An act of politeness can literally change a person’s day. It can even change a person’s life.

It can lift their spirits instantly. It can help them press on through what may be difficult. Some cultures in the world are known for their politeness. Other cultures are known for their rudeness.

Which communicates respect and which doesn’t? If you want to show respect for someone, start by being polite.

6. Be Thankful

If William James was right, that human beings crave appreciation, then thankfulness is the way we affirm it.

When someone does something for you that’s beneficial. Or they say something to you that’s helpful in some way. Or they honestly affirm you in some way that’s important to you. You should thank them.

Again, thankfulness is becoming increasingly rare in our world.

I hold the door for people, and they walk right past without even seeming to notice. I let people out into my lane of traffic so they’ll save time. They look at me as if it’s their solemn birthright. I help people in other ways that I’m certain was valuable to them. Yet I hear nothing in the way of thanks.

It’s not so much that we need to be thanked. It’s that we want to feel that what we’ve done has made a difference. When there is no thankfulness for something we’ve done, or even for who we are, we feel a lack of respect.

Respect doesn’t always require thankfulness. But it often does. It’s just another way we show respect. It’s just another way that we feel respected.

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