Getting Some Respect - It's a Mutual Thing


Ask your typical person on the street what "respect" is and you get answers such as:
"You should respect me because I am your elder"
"showing respect means doing what you are told."

Adlerian Psychology is grounded in the concept of mutual respect. Rudolf Dreikurs said
"If only one person in a relationship is granted respect, there is no equality."

Mutual respect means allowing every human being a right to have opinions and preferences and to make decisions. This doesn't mean always being able to do what we want to do! Take a look at some examples of mutual respect in relationships.

In friendship: Donna and Lauren are old friends. Lauren's boyfriend often travels and comes home at unpredictable times. Sometimes Lauren makes plans with Donna and changes them at the last minute to be with her boyfriend. Donna has let her know how much this hurts her feelings and they are trying to work out a mutually respectful arrangement. Donna is getting tickets for a special event and would love Lauren to go with her. She tells Lauren that she needs a firm commitment by the end of the week. Lauren agrees to make plans with her boyfriend regarding the date and get back to Donna by Friday. She speaks to him and they put the date on their calendar. Lauren tells Donna she has arranged everything and will definitely be there and she keeps her word.

Between parent and child: Adults sometimes have trouble being respectful of themselves in situations that involve their kids. For example, some single parents feel guilty when starting new relationships. Larry has figured out how to respect himself and his son. He wants to spend more time with his friend, Mary, in the evenings. His son, Craig, is 12 and feels very uncomfortable when Mary visits. Larry is not willing to give up his adult time but doesn't want to be inconsiderate of Craig. He tells Craig, "Saturday, Mary will be here for the evening. Would you like to stay home with us or arrange to go a friend's house?" Craig chooses the friend option. Larry has modeled respect for himself, Mary and his son, Craig.

So, how do you get respect?

You can begin with effective communications skills. Show your respect for others by listening with an attitude of openness. Be willing to disagree without trying to force another to your way of thinking. It is essential to check whether everyone involved feels heard and understood, even if not everyone is getting what he or she wants. At the same time, remember that you are not respecting yourself when you are either giving up or giving in. Self respect is part of the mutual respect package. When you model self respect you are letting others know you value yourself and them.

It isn't possible to make someone else respect you, but you don't have to wait around for others to change in order to have mutual respect.

You can create it with you own beliefs and actions. If you believe that everyone deserves respect, you demonstrate that in your behavior. The manner in which you talk and listen, set limits for yourself and follow through, and speak up about your thoughts and feelings can create an atmosphere of mutual respect right now.

If you demonstrate self respect in considerate, non-abusive ways, with genuine interest and caring about others, this invites others to respect you, just as you respect yourself and them.

It has nothing to do with being older, smarter or more privileged. Children learn how it feels to be respected and what they can expect from a relationship. It lets other adults know that you care about them as well as yourself.