Determining Respect in Dialog

Earlier, I wrote an article on how respect is a prerequisite to any meaningful interaction. There really is no purpose to an interaction, and no fruits can come out of dialog, if there isn’t mutual respect first.

We can look at our recent US Presidential Debates to see how no one’s learning anything from each other, or cares to. Our world lacks the maturity of respecting other perspectives. That’s our collective challenge as a species, and of course the theme of this work. Starting with an honest ownership of when it exists, and when it doesn’t.

This article will be about how to determine if there IS respect to begin with, in order to warrant further dialog. I do believe, contrary to popular opinion, that basic respect isn’t to be earned, but rather to be started with, to move further.

How do we know if someone respects us? And more importantly, how do we know if we respect them?

There are many false flags that confound our perception of respect. I’ll share a few instances that in and of themselves do NOT constitute respect.

  • Effusive praise or compliments.
  • Admiring some qualities of someone.
  • Token courtesies or manners.
  • Liking or feeling comfortable with them.
  • Simple time / attention offered to someone.
  • Simple listening to what someone is saying.
  • Telling someone we respect them.
  • Imagining that someone respects us.

These can all be fine. But these above don’t necessarily constitute respect.

So then, how do we tell?

We can tell respect from not respect at the level of perspectives. We can know respect if another incorporates our perspective into theirs. And we respect another if we incorporate their perspective into ours.

We don’t have to agree with someone. Heck, we don’t even have to like someone. But if we’re integrating their perspective into our own, thereby broadening our perspective, only then are we respecting them, their presence on the planet, and their value in our lives.

All of a sudden we might realize there’s a lot of disrespect out there, and in ourselves. A heck of a lot. We’re so busy trying to bolster ourselves and sell our point-of-view that we trample on the perspectives of those around us, especially those we disagree with.

At the same time, we might realize we are putting up with and tolerating a whole host of negative, toxic dialogs not grounded on respect.

We thus owe it to ourselves to let these dialogs go. Never shutting any out, but simply letting these interactions find their natural space balance — enough space to respect another.

Respect I often use synonymously with love. We can’t force respect, but we can learn to cultivate it, and learn to recognize it, so we can navigate life with far greater clarity and fulfillment.

Perspective Mapper
Ranjeeth Thunga

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