Whenever you hear the word respect, it is hard not to remember the wonderful voice of the late Aretha Franklin. Her song “Respect”, in which she sings about needing and wanting a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T, still rings true for a lot of people today. Everyone needs it, and as our society goes, we have to be respectful before we expect the same from our peers. Arguably, it is an emotional commodity exchanged among people. If two people have mutual respect for one another, they can proceed with a happier and conflict-less relationship. If this is not the case, you can only expect the relationship to go down the drain and be filled with hate, anger, and resentment. Of course, no one likes that.
Undeniably, respect is one of the most important ingredients of any relationship. It may seem like such an idealistic statement to say, but we can only live in peace with others if we learn to respect them despite your differences in culture, race, religion, and even ability. It may be so easy to say this, but as you may now know, this is very hard to do. In order to respect people who do not share the same values that we have, we are asked to compromise. This often means having to look past other people’s mistakes, and disregarding your clashing beliefs with them. In short, respect is choosing to see the good in other people and appreciating their talents, skills, and what they can contribute.
If you are someone who is in the process of building better relationships with friends, partners, or family, you will find out that the first step in this exercise is to respect them. Only then can you build mutual trust, or even love. Here are some simple ways you can practice to be respectful of others:
You know that feeling you get when you are telling a story, and you feel like the other person is not that interested? That’s because the person was not listening to you. What we failed to realize as adults is that listening is really the more important step in communicating. It’s really just like how our teachers used to say, “If someone is speaking, listen.” When we listen to others, we make them feel that we are interested in their ideas. So, go ahead and give your friend the time to share her story. Listen to her, and as you go along, you will see that it is only through listening that we can truly understand a person.
2. Say “Thank you!”.
Say thanks. Even if it’s just because a stranger held the door for you. Even more so if your parents gave you a gift, or if your wife took the time to cook your favorite dish for dinner. Say, “Thank you!” and let them know that their efforts are appreciated. It is so easy to forget this sometimes, but just imagine the happiness that they will feel when they hear those two precious words from you. Thanking people is not just to express gratitude. It is also to show people that you respect them, and that their efforts were not put to waste in doing something for you.
3. Be kind.
Like the centuries-old maxim says, “Treat others the way you would like to be treated.” So, be nice. However, do not do it just because you expect others to be nice to you, too. Do it because you know that the other person is someone who is deserving of it.
ALSO READ: 20 Ways to Show Compassion to Others
4. Be mindful of other people’s time.
If you made plans to meet with friends at 8 o’clock in the evening, be there even before the long hand of the clock meets the number 12. Being mindful of other people’s time is a very underrated quality. People appreciated it when you show up on time—during meetings, dinners, and especially special events.
Time is our most valuable resource as humans. It does not come in infinite amounts, so make sure not to waste other people’s time by simply being mindful.
5. Be polite.
Being polite is free, and it rarely ever results in bad things. The alternative is being rude, which is directly opposite of your goal to be more respectful. Know what phrases and gestures communicate respect to others. For example, you say “Please,” when you need something, and say “Sorry,” if you accidentally did something wrong. You do not point your fingers at any person because it is never considered polite. The key here is to practice this no matter where you are, who you are with, or who you meet.
6. Be honest.
Being honest and truthful about how you feel will be highly appreciated by any person in your life. If you respect a person, you know that they deserve the truth and nothing short of it. Lying has never resulted in anything good, so ditch that attitude. However, there is a fine line between honesty, and tactlessness.
Think of the words you are going to say first. Are your thoughts biased? Will it sound bad if you say this? Practice honesty, but never use it to hurt other people. You can be right about something, but be wrong in how you say it. Be honest, and show people that they can rely on you for honesty. When they know that you are honest, they will learn to trust you.
While reading this, we are sure that you have learned to understand that respect is a pre-requisite to a lot of things in any relationship. But before you even practice this with other people, learn to practice this on yourself. Self-respect is the most important thing you will ever learn to do. If you respect yourself, you must be in tune with how you feel and be honest about it. If you ever fail, say sorry, and respect yourself enough to be kind to yourself. People who respect themselves tend to practice respect better, because they know their worth, their abilities, and what they can do. If you learn to appreciate yourself as a person, you will definitely learn to find the good in others as well.
ALSO READ: 7 Ways to be Considerate of Others