Respect Is Alive and Well in the U.S. … Sometimes!

Posted on March 25, 2011


I just finished exchanging emails with a representative of my state congress and was very surprised at the way this official reacted to being challenged.

This isn’t a political post, but it is a post about how we are to treat each other as human beings, regardless of our status or position in life.

Give Respect to Get It

There is an old saying that you must give respect to get respect. Whether you are a person living on the street or someone living in the White House, you should give others respect. Everyone has opinions and dreams and hopes and desires just like any other human being on this earth.

You won’t always agree with everyone on every issue, but you can respectfully listen to each other’s opinions and be richer because of it.

Common Interests Quiet Conflict

The strategy my husband I have found most effective is when we have obvious differences with other people for which we will never resolve, we find those things we all have in common — common interests, common careers, common goals in life, common backgrounds, families in common, etc. It breaks down barriers, typically takes the edge off and helps pave a path for healthy communication and mutual respect.

I’ve worked with a variety of corporate groups and conflict always occurs, especially on project teams. Everyone is considered an expert and has strong opinions about how things work. Conflict is not a bad thing, however, if it is worked through respectfully.

It takes effort and determination and commitment to respectfully disagree when you have strong opinions, but when you are able to do it effectively, you can walk away with greater respect for each other’s responsibilities.

I have lots of friends who are polar opposite in their beliefs, but I love it that we work to find a place of agreement on things outside of that on which we have strong opinions. Not that you can’t discuss or share your strong opinions. Once they’ve been vocalized, though, and it’s clear no one is budging on their positions, you must move on if you are to have a relationship with that person — move on to something you have in common.

Family Conflict Resolved

My oldest daughter is an excellent example of that. She is young, bright, beautiful and proud of her opinions (God bless her!). Many of her strong opinions are polar opposite to mine, but they are precious to her. As she came into her own a few years ago, we bantered and sometimes battled over our own strong opinions. It became obvious neither of us was going to budge, so we had to find something else on which to base an ongoing relationship (other than I was her mom and she was my daughter, though, it is a good commonality).

We discovered a friendship based on common interests. We discovered we have a similar sense of humor, enjoy many of the same movies and thoroughly enjoy sharing the simples things in life.

We found a place of deep, mutual respect.

Healthy Dialogue Is Important

We need to dialogue when we disagree with government officials, family members and friends on topics that are near and dear to our hearts. Once those discussions come to an impasse, however, we need to move on to things we have in common to sustain the relationship.

We can even dialogue on new issues that come up on which we are passionate, but, again, the pattern is to move on if we come to an impasse.

That, my friends, is what creates and maintains a strong relationship over the long haul.

Do you agree or disagree with this, and how do you work out conflict and maintain a relationship?