by: E.B. Johnson
We live in an increasingly aggressive culture, and with that aggression has come a rise in disrespect. Students are becoming more disrespectful of their teachers, and politicians are becoming more disrespectful of one another and their constituents. We live in a time when being disrespectful seems like the norm, but nothing could be further from the truth.
As human beings, we’re all entitled to a common level of dignity and respect. Gaining this respect, however, takes integrity and it takes knowing how to honor both yourself and others. When someone disrespects us, it can be a hard pill to swallow, but learning to overcome that disrespect is possible with a little understanding, compassion and the understanding that not everything is as simple as it seems.
Disrespect can take a number of forms and can occur in intimate and superficial relationships alike. Our partners can be disrespectful. Our parents and our children can be disrespectful. Literally anyone in our lives can disrespect us at any time, but it’s up to us to figure out how to navigate that.
When it comes to violating the respect we’re owed, it often comes down to creating a feeling of “less than”. Someone who is disrespectful isn’t someone who wants to build you up, they’re someone who wants to tear you down; and that can take place for a variety of reasons and in a variety of situations.
A rise in disrespect.
No matter where you look, it seems as though there is more and more disrespectful behavior all around us. Kids are more disrespectful to their elders and we are more disrespectful to one another. Why? What’s going on that’s making us all so hateful?
We’re no longer conditioned to be empathetic
Our society is no longer one that values compassion. Instead, we’re encouraged to look out for №1 and №1 alone, even if that comes at the cost of others. We’re no longer encouraged to have compassion with one another, and with that comes a rise in disrespect. The messages we’re sending to younger generations is not that we should respect each other, it’s that we should tear each other down.
We feel like we know everything
We’re more informed than ever before and with that comes a certain sense of empowerment. But what happens when that empowerment becomes ego? Disrespect — and a lot of it. We are more disrespectful now because of the belief that we have all the answers. Anything we want to know is available right at the tips of our fingers, and with that can come the (false) belief that we are the masters of everyone else’s destiny…and behavior.
We don’t have any role models
Let’s be honest: the number of respect-worthy and integrity-laden individuals we have to look up to around us is dwindling. Our politicians, doctors, lawyers and clergy are regularly hit with stories of scandal, lies, fraud and deceit. Campaign ads are hate-filled, disrespect-fests filled with vile people saying vile things to one another; and our reality television is even worse. Every where we look, humans are being disrespectful to one another, and that can make it seem like an acceptable thing to do — even when it’s not.
The types of disrespect.
There are a number of surprising ways in which someone can disrespect us. From snide comments, to all-out assaults on our person and character. These are the most undermining types of disrespect you need to be on the look-out for.
Refusing to listen: When someone refuses to listen to your ideas or what you have to say — they’re refusing to give you the respect you deserve as a human being with your own thoughts, emotions and desires. We all deserve space to express ourselves.
Talking at you: Talking at someone, rather than listening to them or giving them a chance to speak is a sign of disrespect. One-ended conversations are little more than a dismissal of the other person, and the value of their ideas and opinions.
Laughing and ridiculing: People who laugh at you or ridicule you are toxic, and doing their best to undermine your sense of self-worth and wellbeing. We each deserve to be treated compassionately, but this sort of behavior is little more than a control tactic, used to keep people subservient to those bearing greater insecurities than their own.
Talking behind your back: Those who share information about you behind your back, or those who spread lies and mis-information behind your back are not friends. They are malicious people who are attempting to isolate you and destroy your sense of happiness and relationships.
Lying & ignoring boundaries: One of the most common forms of disrespect is lying and the invasion on boundaries. Our boundaries are the foundation of our happy relationships, but those who refuse to adhere to them are disrespecting you, your desires and even your most basic needs. Likewise, lies are evidence that the person you’re dealing with has no respect for you as a person.
How to manage a disrespectful person.
Managing disrespectful people is a delicate process that takes time and understanding to master. Those who seek to anger us or hurt us can really get under our skin and make it hard to stay cool, but that’s critical to walking away with wellbeing and dignity in hand. If you’ve been disrespected by someone close to you, use these techniques to manage their disrespect the right way.
1. Live a life above reproach
The first thing anyone has to learn about respect is that it must be earned. One way we earn the respect of others is by living a life that is above reproach. By making ourselves an example of stability and exceptionalism, we can actually create a barrier that protects us from the criticisms of others.
Living a life “above reproach” doesn’t mean you have to conform to some mainstream idea of perfection and uptightness. It simply means you have to live your life with integrity and do what you say you will when you say you will.
Before you can demand the respect of others, you have to demonstrate that you’re worth it yourself; something that can be done by starting off with internal and external honesty. Be a person of your word, and strive to do what’s best for you (and others) at all times. Once you respect yourself by living with integrity, you’ll gain the respect of others.
2. Practice equinamity
Rude and disrespectful people are everywhere, and sometimes there’s little you can do to resolve your issues with them. When that’s the case, the best thing to do is to pull yourself away, taking the time and space you need to gain control of yourself, and ask a few key questions that can point you in the right direction.
Take to ten, and take a few deep breaths. Ask yourself: “Is this worth getting upset about? Will my anger change my mind? Will it change theirs? Often, when we give ourselves a few minutes of peace and quiet, we see that the disrespect (more often than not) has everything to do with the other person and little to do with us.
People upset one another. It’s a natural part of life. Learn how to keep your cool and maintain your own personal respect by practicing equanamity and trying to consider things with the benefit of space. Things always look different when we give ourselves the change to count to 10 and quiet our minds.
3. Be kind and ask questions
More than anything else, people want to feel heard — and this includes someone who is being disrespectful. Disrespect comes from a place of upset, either with ourselves or the circumstances around us, so one of the best ways we can deal with disrespect is by listening conscientiously, asking questions and making sure we understand the other person’s grievances.
Let them know that you’re interested in what they’re saying, even if you feel it’s unfair or unjust. Everyone deserves the dignity of being listened to, so let them have their say, and then respond slowly with your own questions.
Ask rather than tell, and refrain from dropping blame bombs or making demands. Disrespecting someone isn’t easy, so if you’re dealing with someone who seems to have a sharp tongue when it comes to you — tread carefully. Just listening is often the first step to finding a resolution you both can be happy with.
4. Take the initiative
When we’re confronted with someone who doesn’t like us, we often want to run and hide. This is not the way, however, to resolve the issues that are brewing between you and the person doing the disrespecting. If you want to get to the root of the reason for someone’s disrespect, you have to take the initiative to meet them halfway.
Stack up your courage and meet them head-on, asking for a meeting or a safe space where the two of you can talk things out and figure out what’s going on. Speak frankly, but avoid blaming language and phrases that put you above the conversation. When two people have a problem, the fault lies with both parties. Ask questions and listen to what the other person is saying and they’ll let you know where things went wrong for them.
By investing time in cultivating a new relationship with the person disrespecting you, you can often find more common ground than you previously thought. Our relationships dissolve when distrust and dislike set in — consequences of misunderstandings never addressed. Start talking and take the initiative to open up a dialogue you both can utilize.
5. Practice empathy
A disrespectful person isn’t always acting that way because of something you did wrong. Sometimes, we lash out at others simply because we’re having a bad day or going through other hardships in our lives.
You can get past and overcome the disrespect of another person by practicing a little empathy. Stop taking things personally and consider the fact that everyone is going through something that can make it hard to function through the day. Give them the benefit of the doubt and try to look at things from a different perspective.
More often than not, disrespectful behavior is a cycle, that’s aggravated by the stress of everyday life. If someone who is normally delightful takes a turn for the nasty, stop and try to consider what they might be going through. You may be surprised by how quickly your own perspective changes.
Putting it all together…
If you’ve been disrespected by someone you know or love, don’t stress. You can overcome this moment, it’s just going to take a little self-reflection and readjustment. We can work out our differences with someone who has been disrespectful of our needs or emotions, but we have to understand where they’re coming from and do our best to be honest and open in the way that we deal with them and the situation.
Try to live a life that is full of integrity and beyond reproach. Don’t conform to anyone else’s standards, but do what you say you will when you say you will. If someone has been especially nasty, take a step back and ask yourself if this instance is really worth getting worked up about. Often, it is the chaos of personal life that causes a disrespectful person to lash out. So, take some time to consider the other person’s perspective and open up an honest and open dialogue with them while asking the questions that matter. Dealing with disrespect is art form that can be managed with know how. Arm yourself with knowledge and shield yourself with the armor of integrity. The only way to transcend disrespect is to rise above it.