“Respect yourself and others will respect you.”
(saying of Confucius)


Having completed an evaluation for the trends of the most common areas or issues approached in development programmes, I’ve assayed that the highest percentage of issues encountered in the workplace, are in the areas of Interpersonal Dealings, including the focus upon –

(a) Truth or the lack of it; misinformation and

(b) Respect or the real issue being lack of respect.

In my approach with clients, when ‘lack of respect’ or ‘disrespect’ has been raised as issue, I always asked them what they mean by ‘respect’ and how do they identify respect either in themselves or in others. What are the behaviours that they recognise as being ‘respectful’? …… What is interesting is that in almost all cases, the client responded by proceeding to tell me about their perception of the lack of respect, disrespectful attitudes or behaviours in their dealing with another person or more to point, other’s disrespectful dealings towards them.

I take the approach that if you label others with being disrespectful, then the first responsibility is upon you to know and understand categorically what Respect is. I’ve taken the practical approach of suggesting to clients that they undertake some research concerning respect, so that they will know what it is, rather than assumptively using some vague idea or notion about it, as their basis for assessing others not having respect, or being disrespectful. So the question is ….. What is respect? ….. and Secondly – How do you recognise or identify respect? …. and Thirdly, and very importantly – How do you develop respect in yourself, as the first port of call? These non assumptive questions form the basis for this article .… read-on if interested!

Firstly … What is Respect?

To add some weight to this discussion -. some quoted words of wisdom from famous American author, poet, dancer, actress and singer; Maya Angelou – If we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die. She obviously believed that respect was, and is an imperative quality in living.

To begin, let’s go back to the origin of the word and examine the etymology of Respect. Wherein its Latin verb; respicere meaning “care for, provide for, consider, gaze at, look back at” or a frequent Latin derivative; respectare meaningkeep on looking round or back, have regard for”.

So the root of respect is SPECT, and firstly it is to do with looking (such as in spectacle, spectator, spectral, spectrology, spectrum, speculate). But ‘respect looking’, is a special type of looking, because you can put anything into your looking that you wish, and it’s dependent upon what you think at that time. For instance you could look at another with greed, envy or jealousy or conversely with esteem (regarding your value for their capabilities) or care or consideration. So I would say that the greatest respect you can have for anyone is not to look at them with anything in your mind, which might diminish them. And in terms of self-respect it is not to think negatively about yourself, to suffer self-doubt or to under-value yourself in your self-thinking.

So in the process of respect, genuine respect requires a casting of one’s mind back into one’s memory and recall, to see what one owes the person whom one is looking at. Then, the computation done, and the positive feelings evoked, the respectful results must be delivered to the person as a confirmation of the esteemed regard in which you value them. But that is not the end, for the internal process must be done again and again when needed, and on a regular maintenance basis as well. Hence the respect process must be repeated or reinforced continually as an ongoing necessity.

In summary, Respect is a backward-looking computed confirmation of positive value, evoking clean and positive feelings in you, which lead to saying “yes” to the other person. In other words, it is an offered acknowledgement by you, of value maintenance between you and the other person, or you and an entity such as a team or a nation or religion. The result of respect being practiced, is that it uplifts both parties with reciprocated positive feelings of value.

That described internal self-process is how resultant respectful behaviour is groomed. Attempting to bring about respect by trying to change behavioural patterns primarily or to establish or enforce expected conduct or behaviour by implementing a so-called ethical code of conduct in a company, is tantamount to trying to start a motor vehicle without a battery.

Secondly … How do you recognise or identify Respect?

Respect can be recognised by its prime features and attributes.

You feel clean and decent and uplifted from respectful dealings.

You think highly or think well of colleagues or others whilst acknowledging and praising their successes and the value of their contributions.

Clarity on agreements are easily come to with feelings of secure enjoyment that agreements will be executed.

Employees feel supported when making decisions to do the right thing, even when that may mean possibly jeopardising a business opportunity or a business target.

Thirdly … How do you develop Respect in yourself (as the first port of call)?

I suggest that these thoughts are like seeds for sowing, and then growing …..

The first point here is – don’t just assume that respect is an automatic given. It’s got to be worked for. To start, it’s by making the decision that you want to have that rare, fine, potent and sublime quality of respect as a living, influential value in life. Without the well considered decision firstly and then secondly, knowing and understanding what respect is, then it’s unlikely that any attempted development will be anything other than a vague, fluffy and random association.

Try practising the “internal respect process” described above for appreciating both you and in building interpersonal relationships with others.

The more you share, the more you have. Share what is good in you and watch it multiply; withhold what is bad and watch it diminish. This is especially true in regard to thinking and dealing respectfully with others. If you think and believe well and highly of yourself, then you will think similarly of others and this gives them the opportunity to reciprocate with similar feeling and values towards you.


Mahatma Gandhi (in Fools, Martyrs, Traitors: The Story of Martyrdom in the Western World) stated “I cannot conceive of a greater loss than the loss of one’s self-respect.” Again, words of wisdom from the ‘prince of non-violence’ and peace. Equally, the reverse is true …. a far greater gain can be achieved for both self and others with the increase and improvement of one’s self-respect and respect radiated towards others. Respect is one of the bed-rock strata of our unique humanity.

Respect is not imposed (that’s bordering on tyranny) nor begged for (that’s a victim’s psychology). It’s earned and offered ….. (Anonymous quote). Therefore respect from another towards you (or conversely from you to them) has to be earned. In the meantime try offering others tolerance and the benefit of the doubt.

When you seek to understand someone, give them the gift of a non-assumptive, respectful approach / attitude and you will come to see a better person.

William Wallace