How to Address Disrespect

Expect Respect

The question of whether respect is given or earned has been one that has of late come up often in my conversations. I grew up in an era where respect was automatically given to ones elders and those in position of authority, such as your teachers, church leaders and the local constables.  In my encounters with millennials I hear more that they believe that ones respect should be earned.

Out of curiosity ,  I looked up the meaning of respect, I had assumed that to have respect for someone meant that I had an obligation to be polite and show deference  to someone, in actuality the dictionary describes respect as having a deep sense of admiration for someone based on something they have achieved, their abilities or certain qualities they possess. Making respect an action word based on the actions and inactions of others.

So, what becomes of someone, who is places in the precarious position of being torn between the customs of the past and the reality of the present?

For example  how do you show respect for someone who is older, yet they are perpetually rude and demeaning. and how could you possibly show respect to someone who displays prejudices  against others, based on their race, culture, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, physical or emotional handicaps. Do we show respect for a boss or someone in authority who abuses their power to the detriment of its employees by telling off color jokes, or who loves spilling company gossip? At what point do you determine that this person is not worthy of your admiration based on their behavior and or lack thereof.

So how do you address the disrespect.

Having respect means that you see the value of and in a person, that sense of admiration and value must begin within yourself in the form of self-respect. Therefore you must practice those behaviors in yourself that  will cause you to feel good about yourself and the decisions you make on a daily basis.

Those choices may require you to walk away from office gossip or listening to racist or sexist jokes. They may involve reporting unprofessional behavior from your boss or colleagues. They may require you to leave your place of employment or they may require a simple and polite conversation in which you share your concerns. Whatever action necessary, you must have the mindset to expect respect.

I cant guarantee that whatever actions you take will guarantee you the results you desire, but I can guarantee that you will receive the respect your expect, most importantly from yourself and indeed from others.




  1. WOW, I truly love this post, I must say I am bit torn as far as what the dictionary says the word respects means. I thought our parents, elders, teachers and community leaders deserved respect for one wha they have paved for us.

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