Popular thinking would suggest that respect is something that is earned, not just randomly given. From that perspective it would seem unnecessary or inappropriate to show respect to someone if their behaviour or demeanour did not reach our acceptable standards.
That would seem especially true if that person were a stranger or someone that you did not know well, such as the grocery clerk or flight attendant. But what seems very apparent also is that we all want to be treated with respect, and that being respected “feels better”.
There is a core within each human being that we refer to as innate health. Therein lays our natural sense of well-being. It is the source of our compassion and common sense, the good feeling we have when we are not taking life personally.
It is from this place of compassion and understanding that respect is born. We have the capacity to see beyond a person’s behaviour to their innate health and to see that if it were not for some insecure thinking they would not be behaving in a “critical, hurtful, jealous, impatient” way.
In order to treat another with respect we must drop many of our previously held ideas about whom and what deserves respect and see the humanity in the other person. Whatever the behaviour or problem, people respond positively to respect and without it there can be no true rapport.
Rapport, by definition, means harmony and a sympathetic or compassionate relationship. It is present in all successful relationships, between parent and child, boss, employee, between husband and wife.
We have already talked about respect as being integral to rapport. Another key ingredient is listening. In order to deepen any relationship we need to listen more. Most of us think we are good listeners, but without exceptions we could all listen better.
One way to do that is to be genuinely curious about the other person. Put aside what we think is causing their behaviour and really listen to how they feel and what they are experiencing. When we are listening deeply we need to put our own thoughts aside and not be waiting for an opening to put in our “two cents” worth.
Listening deeply is the greatest gift we can ever give to another human being. It’s also the greatest gift we can give to ourselves, because in order to listen deeply to another we have to quiet our own thinking and that feels good.
Everyday we encounter relationships, some new, some familiar. Each one of these offers us an opportunity to put on our “respect and rapport” glasses. Life looks so much better from that stance.