How to Respect People Who Don’t Respect You

Photo by Agiorgio.

Photo by Agiorgio.

Someone recently found On the Other Hand through an Internet search for this phrase. Most of my readers are from the States, so I’m expecting traffic to be lighter than usual today and tomorrow as they celebrate Independence Day. I thought it would be fun to talk about this for those of you who are still around.

My answer is as follows:

Respect is a two-way street, and I’ve learned that often people who have serious issues with giving it away are also misers emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, and financially.

I’d give this person the same basic level of respect I have for all humans, but a red flag like this one would make me keep my distance. To me it makes no sense to get close to someone who clearly does not have my best interests at heart.

Also remember that most folks are kind and respectful.

Why not focus the bulk of your time and energy on the good people in this world? By all means be kind to people who won’t reciprocate..but don’t give them more energy than you can spare. Just like flight attendants always say in the safety lecture before a flight takes off, you have to put on your own oxygen mask first before you can help anyone else.

Readers, how would you answer this question?


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0 Responses to How to Respect People Who Don’t Respect You

  1. TWF

    I think you’ve given a good answer. The only things I would add are to
    consider some (limited) compassion, because there may have been some
    event or series of life experiences which “broke” the other person’s
    ability to converse with mutual respect. Also, if you feel a strong
    emotional response to how you are treated with this lack of respect, do a
    little inward meditation to discover why your buttons are being pushed
    by what is said.

    But I would caution with these additions that
    they should be limited. At no point should you feel that it is OK for
    the other person to disrespect you, or that you deserve that disrespect.

  2. John Anstie

    I’m voting with you on this, at least when it comes to ‘healthy’ individuals. I do think mutual respect or, the braver step, being prepared to show someone respect before you know how they are going to treat you and certainly after they’ve demonstrated disrespect toward you, is not easy to uphold. But, through personal experience, I try always to be alert to mental health issues, particularly when this is, as it so often can be, heavily disguised by denial. I have experienced at first hand someone with severe clinical depression, for whom having any respect for themselves was hard enough, let alone respect for anyone else.

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