Put Your Best Foot Forward
How Good Manners Enhance your professional and personal life.
“If you are more fortunate than others, it is better to build a longer table than a taller fence.”-Unknown
Table Leg 2: RESPECT
The holiday season is upon us. With visits to/from family and friends, near or afar, we find ourselves doing overtime, what with regular work duties and the preparations for celebrations at home and the office.
Our table metaphor seems more fitting than usual. This month, the topic is Table Leg 2: Respect.
To review: the four legs of the table symbolize the four tenants of good manners. The surface of the table represents the one force driving all of human behavior.
The four legs of the table are Trust, Respect, Love, and Honor. It takes all four legs of the table to live a principled, well-mannered life. If one of the “legs” is missing or lacking, then our persona will be off-balance, just as a four-legged table with only three legs would be unbalanced.
Respect: to regard, consider, take into account, to esteem, prize or value, to treat with consideration or honor.
Respect can be directed inwards, towards self (self-respect), and outwards, towards others.
Author Joan Didion (b. December 5, 1934), in her 1968 compilation of essays, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, shared her thoughts on self-respect:
…The dismal fact is that self-respect has nothing to do with the approval of others—who are, after all, deceived easily enough; has nothing to do with reputation, which, as Rhett Butler told Scarlett O’Hara, is something people with courage can do without.
To do without self-respect, on the other hand, is to be an unwilling audience of one for an interminable documentary that deals with one’s failings, both real and imagined, with fresh footage spliced for every screening. There’s the door you slammed in anger, the hurt on a loved one’s face, there’s reaching for the sleeping pills, there’s not returning a phone call or text.
Self-respect is a discipline. It is a healthy habit, one that can be formed, coaxed out, nurtured, developed.
To have the sense of your own intrinsic worth which constitutes self-respect is the potential to have all of the good and wonderful things life can offer: to love unconditionally, to be able to discriminate between healthy and unhealthy relationships, to have a marvelous, successful career.
Character is the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life, which is the source from which self-respect comes from.
Without self-respect, we withdraw into ourselves. We remain blind to our fatal weaknesses and our curiosity and love of life is greatly diminished.
Respect is a feeling of admiration or deference toward a person, child, non-human animal, group, ideal, or almost any entity or concept, as well as specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem.
Respect can be a specific feeling of regard for the actual qualities of the one respected (e.g., “I have great respect for her judgment”). It can also be conduct in accord with a specific ethic of respect.
Respect can be given and/or received and/or lost. Depending on an individual’s cultural reference frame, respect can be something that is earned. Respect is often thought of as earned or built over time. Often, continued caring interactions are required to maintain or increase feelings of respect among individuals.
Chivalry, by some definitions, contains the outward display of respect.
Respect should not be confused with tolerance. The antonym of respect is disrespect.
The subsets of Respect: Humility, Esteem, Value, Appreciate, To Notice
To respect a person is not possible without knowing him; care and responsibility would be blind if they were not guided by knowledge. -Erich Fromm
On a practical level respect includes taking someone’s feelings, needs, thoughts, ideas, wishes and preferences into consideration. It means taking all of these seriously and giving them worth and value.
In fact, giving someone respect seems similar to valuing them and their thoughts, feelings, etc.…even when you may disagree with them. It also includes acknowledging them, listening to them, being truthful with them, and accepting their individuality and idiosyncrasies.
When we pass personal judgement on the thoughts or feelings of others, we are encroaching on shaky ground in which our notion of needing to be right, or winning, will result in the loss of respect from others. And we may not even realize it.
To notice: is the art of teaching us to question what is seen, to offer help in unlikely places and to embrace diversity.
In the rush of our very busy world, I encourage you to take time to consider and understand facts. Respect everyone, even those to seem determined to show us they don’t deserve respect.
Let us always build our table longer to include others, with respect.
The art of giving and earning respect will reward you with a robust, healthy family, life and career.
Take the time to notice, respect and value someone this holiday season.
From our family to yours: may the joys of the holiday season be yours.
Remember: Share your goodness, far and wide, as much as you can, with as many people as you can, for as long as you can, with as much respect as you can.
Ready, Set…Time to Say Please and Thank You again.
COMING NEXT: Leg 3: Honor