Examining “Respectful”— and Why It Matters
Respect lies at the heart of what it means to be human. It begins with the capacity to understand different perspectives and forges the foundations of relationships with others. Respectful is a character trait that carries tremendous weight and is worth a close examination as it entails so much more than “not being rude.” To be classified as respectful is a privilege and honor that, if properly channeled, can foster multi-faceted successes. A successful life is what we all should endeavor towards, and it benefits not only ourselves but those around us as well.
So how does one go about earning the prestigious trait of respectful? Here are some pointers for your consideration:
It Starts With You
At GermSanity, we believe respect starts from within. Self-respect is about having honor and dignity for yourself, your beliefs, and your choices in life. It is also realizing that although others may not treat you as you feel they should, you know who you are, are proud of who you are and know you deserve the best in spite of how others may view or treat you.
Respecting yourself is not limited to how you feel about yourself but also encompasses how others feel about you. Self-respect doesn’t make you narcissistic or conceited, but instead shows that when you love and respect yourself you can, in turn, do the same for others. Having pride and confidence in oneself is a forerunner to respecting others and is a basis of a good and healthy relationship with yourself and those around you.
Being honest with yourself about how you feel on a daily basis is a great place to start building in this area.
Action step: Write down your favorite personal qualities in a notebook or practice words of affirmation out loud in front of your mirror. Repeating things you love about who you are on a regular basis renders positive energy that radiates onto those around you.
A chief element of self-respect is self-control. Self-control is the ability to override an impulse in order to respond appropriately and is a distinctive feature of respectful behavior. Being able to maintain a strong sense of self-control and regulation over one’s thoughts, emotions, words, and behaviors yields many benefits. Having strong self-control allows you to focus on and achieve long term goals and is an inner force leading to a healthy and accomplished life.
Self-control demonstrates physical and emotional strength. We exercise it when we choose carrots instead of cookies for dinner, forgive instead of lash out in anger, and when we listen intently instead of constantly interrupting when someone else is speaking. Self-control improves our personal wellbeing, enhances our relationships, and enables us to stand out as strong, respected individuals in social circles.
Action step: Determine an area in your life in need of more self-control. Write it down. Think of all the factors that could hinder your advancement in this area and eliminate them. Research the best methods of improving in this area. Choose a method with an actionable plan. Follow the plan.
Find Common Ground
Living in an ever-increasing multicultural society can sometimes create challenging experiences. The goal is to allow these experiences to shape us in a positive way, not pull us down or cause us to exhibit anything less than stellar behavior. When facing awkward situations concerning different perspectives and backgrounds, it is vital to look beyond the differences and find points of mutual interest. Remember, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, beliefs, and values. We don't have to agree, but we need to be accepting. If we can learn to appreciate the differences in one another, we can more easily avoid conflicts, bad feelings and negative stereotyping.
Cross-cultural learning and acceptance helps us become better friends, colleagues, leaders and international citizens—because once we enhance our social and cultural intelligence, we can accept diversity, and promote a sense of belonging and global inclusivity. Also remember that you will long be remembered for negative actions and reactions and this can be a hindrance to developments and advancements in your own personal and social life.
Action step: Instead of focusing on problems of differences in cross-cultural relationships and interactions, try acknowledging and appreciating the strengths of the other person (affirming them). Highlighting skills and abilities and downplaying differences will strengthen your own character and elevate you in the eyes of those around you.
Practice Active Listening
Active listening is a valuable skill that requires one’s attention and appropriate response to something said by someone else. It is neutral and nonjudgmental and involves patience and a reflection on what is being said. Active listening is a hallmark of respectful behavior and helps earn the trust of others as you endeavor to understand their situations. Active listening not only exhibits a desire to comprehend, it offers support and empathy to the speaker.
One of the most heartfelt (and appreciated) ways to exhibit care and concern for someone else is by showing genuine interest in what they have to say. Active listening is a key factor in positive communication and helps build trust and strong relationships.
Action step: Practice active listening with those around you. Really tune in to what is being said and offer positive verbal and nonverbal feedback. Ask questions in a non-intrusive way. Regardless of whether or not you agree with their point of view, listen closely and don’t be judgmental. Remember that communication is a two-way street—if you want others to be respectful and listen to you, you must be willing to do the same.
Be of Service to Others
The Golden Rule is a culturally universal principle upheld by many faiths and cultures. It encompasses the ethical treatment of others and is instrumental in building and maintaining interpersonal relationships on many levels. When we practice this concept, we are putting ourselves in the shoes of others and treating them as we would want to be treated. This filters into such areas as kindness, fairness, being honest, being timely, or just being polite and having basic etiquette.
Venturing beyond the Golden Rule takes us on a path of service to others. This could mean rendering simple acts of kindness or looking beyond the obvious and venturing into zones of unfamiliarity to make a contribution or fill a need. The reality to being truly fulfilled by the action or service offered is seeing the good and beauty that takes us beyond ourselves and choosing to engage without expectation of reciprocation. Ideally, your choice of service should align with your beliefs and values and is not detrimental to your financial, emotional, physical or emotion wellbeing. True service, rendered with compassion and love, will generate high regards for you as you continue to show consideration and respect in the service of others.
Action step: Challenge yourself to regularly perform acts of kindness or service to those outside of your social circle.
After the collective challenges faced by all of us in the past year, we should endeavor to honor, respect and support one another like never before because “no man is an island.”
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