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It all starts with basic respect.

Having covered what is respect, how to show it and self respect in other posts it seems clear that there is many ways of expressing respect. So is there levels of respect? I think there is because in my past work it has been useful to use the concept of basic respect.
Respect to many can be confused with:
  • liking someone
  • being their friend
  • having to do what they say
  • honouring them
  • being passive and having to allow others trample on their rights
  • having to agree with them

But that is not right or fair. Respecting someone can be all of the above but what happens in cases that you do not know them or really dislike someone? This is the issue I have faced with many young people and to ignore it will not help them resolve their problems. All of them needed to respect each others feelings and rights. So there needs to be some basic actions we all need to follow otherwise groups of people can and will just treat each other badly.

Actions I consider show basic level of respect include:
  • being assertive but never aggressive - people need to feel safe
  • never attacking the person - a behaviour or idea may not be okay and can be criticised but keep it separate from the person. To use a sporting analogy go for the ball - the behaviour - and not the person.
  • to treat everyone fairly
  • acknowledged and protected the rights of everyone involved
  • to judge others on their actions alone - not judging them because of their race, religion, where they live … etc
  • communicating in a civil manner - words, tone and body language is appropriate and not aggressive or putting others down
  • we give people the opportunity to communicate by listening to what they say - this helps build a better understanding and relationship

I find ensuring everyone understands what basic respect is helps people to relate and communicate. It is not about making them become best friends, simply allowing the conditions for that to become a possibility. It is about allowing others to agree to disagree but to work together without undermining each other.

Basic respect is a right that does not have to be earned. Gaining the respect of others is the next level above this. And this type of respect is earned by what we do and how we act. But getting respect would be impossible without us starting by offering and receiving basic respect.
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