Monday, 21 March 2011


Over to Sue for this blog, which is all about Respect.

“With respect” is one of those phrases I really dislike.  Usually it’s said when people are irritated and disagree with you, and respect is actually not very much on their agenda.  Nevertheless respect is a word we often hear bandied about.  There are comments like “No self respecting person would wear that,” we hear talk of “Respect needing to be earned”, of young people having “no respect”.   So are there in fact lots of different kinds of respect? 

As a child I wore a hat when I went to church as I was told it was respectful. I hadn’t a clue what it meant but I went along with it.  Most of my friends wore a hat as well so it made me one of the crowd. 

Later on as rebellious teenagers we joined together to show we didn’t respect things, certainly not things that “old" people thought important!   So no hats for us, unless we made them part of the outrageous fashions we felt were our own!

Here’s how I think about respect, and why I think it’s so important.

I was fortunate to grow up in an environment that taught me I was as good as, but no better than anyone else.  This was some intrinsic quality, not related to wealth, status, looks or any of the other parameters we measure ourselves by.

When we are born, to develop to our maximum potential, everyone deserves to be respected by, and to respect, everyone else.  And what a perfect world it would be if that continued to happen as we grew!! 

But none of us live in a perfect world, so how are we going to manage?

If we all deserve respect, but we feel disrespected by someone in, for example, a relationship or in work, what is actually happening?  Someone is not treating us right but should that actually affect our own self-respect?  No it shouldn’t - unless we allow it to.  Here are two wonderful comments confirming this. 

‘They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them.’  ~Mahatma Gandhi

‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.’
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

 If my self-respect is strong and someone treats me badly it’s not my fault  - it’s theirs.  It tells us more about the other person than it does about ourselves. We might feel angry or sad or even scared but that again is to do with the other persons actions. It is only when our self-respect is low we mistakenly blame ourselves.

We can think of our self-respect as a core of positive energy, a bright light that will always be there.  It might be weaker or stronger at different times in our lives, but it is always there.  And we need to feed it by being with positive people as much as we can.

We cannot always choose to be with people who treat us well . But sometimes we can remind such people that we don’t need to tolerate their behaviour. For example, if someone is shouting at you in what you believe to be an unreasonable manner you can say something like, “I do not like or deserve to be shouted at. If you want to speak to me let’s start again.”  It won’t always work – and if it doesn’t, we can tell ourselves we did our best and are obviously at a higher level of personal development than our attackers!

Little things can be very important measures of respect – greeting people with a handshake, smiling, anything that helps the other person feel valued. I was away at the weekend with my daughter and her partner and their 4 month old son.  He is their first child and I happily spent the weekend listening to them talking and singing to him, about how wonderful, funny and cute he is. He was surrounded by a cocoon of total acceptance for who he was.

Now that’s what I call respect!


  1. Sue, Respect is such an important thing to be taught to children as you say self respect empowers positive self image.
    It affects all of us everyday and shapes how we deal with professional and personal situations

  2. I was also fortunate enough to grow up in an environment that taught me I was as good as but no better than anyone else, and I am now trying to pass it on to the next generation. Big thanks to my lovely parents. xxx