Respect may at first appear to be a mundane topic, it’s not shiny or fashionable, it is however a cornerstone to building self-worth, healthy relationships, teams and societies. There is so much juiciness to unpack around respect when you dive into details. At the end of this article you’ll find reflections and activities to enhance Emotionally Intelligent respect within yourself and transform the relationships surrounding you.
How you treat others impacts who you are.
Respect I’ve come to think of as a weave that is essential to the fabric of society. Each thread representative of a person and their acts of respect or disrespect. Those lucky enough to be raised in families or classrooms who endorse and encourage respectful behaviour reap the benefits of being respectful. The more you are authentically respectful the more your self worth grows. You are blessed by the respect you pass on. Your thread in the respect fabric grows in beauty and strength. Adding value to you and adding value to others.
Authentic Respect takes Courage and Creativity
The converse is when ‘respectful behaviours’ become wooden or restrictive, stifling individual freedom by choosing tradition over change, your thread in the respect weave becomes weak. The inauthentic behaviour eats away at self-respect and causes disconnection from your heart. This choice between respect and disrespect is illusionary. There are many choices we can make in any situation, however, examples are rare of how to handle honest disappointment or conflict in a respectful way. Making a new choice requires courage and creativity. These new choices are essential if we are to be authentically respectful. To behave under the pretext of respect at the cost of personal integrity is harmful to the individual and society as a collective.
What is the motive underlying Respect?
The most expensive cost to everyone is when people are raised with no version of loving respect to learn from. In this example what is called ‘respectful behaviour’ is taught through fear, compliance and a threat of harsh discipline. The driving force, from those seeking respect, is a desire for control. This distortedly gets labelled respect. The lesson passed on is that respect means control over others, and that if you respect me then you will do what I say.
The consequence is people fighting with institutions, communities and families as they seek endorsement of their personal value. They desire control in order to feel esteemed and fail to understand that they are harming themselves and others in the process. Their sense of self-worth becomes damaged by their behaviour. Their thread in the respect weave becomes brittle and frayed. The respect that they desire is eroded in the very act of trying to enforce it.
The Subtlety of Emotionally Intelligent Respect
If we are going to strengthen the weave of respect we need to engage in conversations around respect. We need to unpack and articulate the subtle complexities of a collective respect so that everyone has a say. The result of such conversations is buy-in from those involved in the process. From this place it becomes a lot easier to be constructively accountable to each other to maintain a culture of respect. It’s simple – not easy. It takes time and commitment and a willingness to do what it takes.
If you have any questions or topic requests, hit reply. I’d love to speak directly to your areas of challenge.
Activities to enhance Emotionally Intelligent Respect
Exercise 1: Self-Respect Introspection
Self-respect and a sense of worth are at the core of being respectful and being respected.
In South Africa, due in part to the psychological hangover of apartheid, ongoing gender inequality, and the effects of our childhoods (parents often demonstrate dictatorship leadership versus kind strong leadership), there are many of us who are fighting an invisible battle for respect. This creates a desire for deep admiration from someone: a child, a parent, a spouse or a boss. Introspection in this area may help you see where you’re seeking respect.
We seem to think that we need something outside us to change before we get the respect we deserve. The empowering and daunting truth is that the respect we so deeply desire first and foremost needs to be in our own eyes. As soon as you see it you’re empowered to change it. Acknowledgement of ourselves dissolves the fight and allows space to honour ourselves and others.
- Is there someone you think should treat you with more respect? If so, how do you want them to act? What would you like them to say? How would you like them to treat you?
- Is there someone you wish held deep admiration for you? Can you review what you’re expecting from the other person and see how you might offer these things to yourself?
- What is motivating you to seek respect?
- Are you clear on your boundaries (for yourself and others)? What behaviours are ok for you and what are not? How might you respond if someone does something that is not ok? What might you say? For example: The way you are speaking is not respectful to me. I would like to discuss this further when we can both speak respectfully. I am leaving, please come to me when you are ready to engage respectfully.
Exercise 2: Making conscious the collective agreement on what Emotionally Intelligent Respect is
Respect is shown in relation to another person and involves balancing needs and consequences. Respectful behaviours aren’t universal as they differ between families, communities, cultures and societies. Behaviour that infringes on another is not respectful. Take a moment to consider how your actions impact others or ask those around you.
We’ve included an exercise that can help bring into conscious awareness the subtlety of respect where the culture includes more than one person. Although the outcome of this exercise is powerful a great deal of value is the process of unpacking together. Practice curious listening and cultivate a willingness to discover new perspectives.
This exercise can be used in your family, business, team or any partnership. It sounds obvious but I have noticed that something magical happens every time we articulate the obvious make-up of respect.
- Take a piece of paper (A1 is ideal although any size will do)
- Place a large circle in the middle.
- Discuss what respectful behaviour means to you with your family, team, partner or children. As you unpack place behaviours of respect in the inside of the circle and disrespectful behaviours on the outside. With unacceptable behaviours try and find the positive and place those in the circle. For example: no hitting would be on the outside, and inside you might write everybody’s body is safe.
- After your discussion narrow down three to four actions of Emotionally Intelligent respect as the agreement of respect. If your list is longer than that it’s more difficult to keep it front of mind. Place the agreement where everyone can see it as a reminder.
Exercise 3: Respectful Disagreements
Honouring yourself and others is at the heart of respect. Respect is aided by opening your eyes to new ways of seeing. Respect is a recognition of our common humanity. It is a willingness to seek understanding instead of agreement. Here a few tips to approach tough conversations that may spiral toward disrespect.
- Before engaging:
- Notice if you’re willing to allow others to have different perspectives?
- Is your intention to seek win:win solutions or is it to prove you are right?
- Take a moment to note how you’re feeling and what you are thinking?
- Take a moment to put yourself in the other parties shoes and explore what you think they may be feeling and thinking.
- Is there anything you could say or do that may help the other person/parties feel safe.
- Take a moment and connect to your own heart before entering the conversation.
- During your conversation:
- Seek to understand first.
- Use questions to explore what is said as opposed to responding reactively.
- Communicate clearly your intentions to help make the space safe.
- Do not assume what you said is what was heard. Ask for clarification from the other party.
Resources to live with Greater Emotional Intelligence.
When you access our EQ experts, events or resources to help you live with greater Emotional Intelligence you contribute to a more heart-centered world.
- Our EQ Evolution podcast continues to be released every second week. You can listen on Spotify, Apple podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts.
- Going forward you can expect this Heart Reflection to arrive in your inbox monthly. Each month we will focus on a specific EQ topic and include reflections, tools, and exercises you can use. November’s topic is Boundaries.
- Heart-leaders latest EQ events both virtual and happening around South Africa can be found on the website and at the end of each Heart Reflection.
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