To be an effective communicator (and an overall happier person), you need to understand the concept of respect and how it really works. Respect is something that comes from within. It is not some type of reward you get from others just because you’re the older one or because you’re the boss or just because you think you deserve it; nor is it something you should seek from others before providing it to others. Let me explain. It’s very simple.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “To get respect, you need to give respect.” It’s a good rule to follow, but I’m willing to bet your perspective on its meaning is completely skewed. Somehow, our selfie-induced-shallowed-out-10-second-attention-span-having-selfish-selves have warped it into meaning, “if you want me to respect you, you need to respect me first.”
Um, no. This is not what an effective communicator does. And if this is how you operate, you need a serious attitude adjustment. Right. Now.
First, it’s important you understand there is a difference between having respect for someone and showing respect. If you honestly don’t have respect for another person, that’s fine. Maybe they are a complete douche. I understand. I know quite a few myself. However, did you know it is possible for you to act in a respectful way, regardless of their behavior? I know this is a near-impossible concept for some of you to get, but please stay with me.
Second, understand respect should reflect your character, not theirs. You must take responsibility for your own behavior and how you treat others. Stop being reactive and start being proactive. Stop looking for others to respect you first. The way you treat others can steer those interactions in a positive or negative direction. And if they’re still acting like a douche after you’ve treated them with the utmost respect, don’t let their behavior drag you into the swamp with them. Remain above the pettiness and resolve to be a respectful person, regardless of how they behave.
When you begin being the bigger person and start looking at yourself as the role model and take responsibility for your own attitude and behavior, your entire world will change for the better. Others just might start respecting you because you behave like a person who commands respect rather than a person who demands respect.
Jennifer Furlong has 25 years’ experience in the communication field and teaches communication and public speaking courses in the Savannah area. She earned a B.A. and M.A. in Communication from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. She currently resides in Richmond Hill, Ga. with her family of canines, felines, and humans. Let's be social! Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter. Just look for Professor SpeechLady. See you in cyberspace.
Get my new book available on Amazon!