Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Respect !

18 July 2015


One of the most evolved words in today’s vocabulary, is the word “Respect!”. Most of the times when people use this word on TV, I always wonder: for what?, for whom? The word respect is so often used outside its context, that it has become empty, meaningless and shallow. For some, it even replaces a simple hello or goodbye.

I am especially annoyed when the word respect is used as a demand, like in “Respect (me)!” You can only earn respect based upon your accomplishments, skills or virtues but you can never ever demand respect from others. Respect is a sincere, lasting, feeling and any demand for respect would only be given for a short while and with insincerity.

In other situations, respect is now used as mere “thumbs up”, a “well done”, a “great”. Again, there is no relation with the meaning of respect, whatsoever. A series of such positive incidents may start creating respect. Respect is the resultant of a process, not of an incident. You may get (in)famous for an incident but not often does that incident also bring respect.

Publicly using the word “Respect!” is already a contradiction, as respect is often hidden and silent. Non verbal communication is much more likely to express respect than verbal. In some situations, verbally expressing the word “Respect!” might even be considered disrespectful.

The use of the exclamation sign in “Respect!” is also interesting. Normally, the exclamation sign is used to stress something. In case of a demand for respect, its use may actually make – some – sense. Or is the exclamation sign used to add – some – sincerity?? Earning respect is one of the most prestigious achievements in a person’s life. Adding an exclamation remark hardly makes sense.

Internet tags claim: respect – you must give it, to get it. Again, this is a misrepresentation of respect. You earn respect and cannot get it by giving it – let alone demanding it. Respect does not need to be bilateral at all: many people whom I respect, do not even know me. In fact, respect is much more likely to be unilateral than bilateral.

In relationships, respect should better be bilateral than unilateral, in order to create a healthy and lasting balance. Not having – or losing – the respect for your partner, sooner or later equals to losing the relationship. Love brings respect but respect does not bring love. And a lack of boundaries in a relationship (or anywhere else for that matter), invites a lack of respect.

I would like to share the “8 respect basics” that I found during my research: be compassionate, have courage, tell your truth,  get help, know you’re valuable, trust your gut and follow your passions (source). Actually, the last one doesn’t make too much sense to me but the other 7 are quite valid. In case of doubt, just look at the reverse of these 7 and you will then understand their added value.

The word “Respect!” may once have been used with good intentions. Nowadays, its continued use feels pathetic and – quite honestly – even disrespectful.

One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say. Bryant H. McGill


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