Great relationships are built on a foundation of respect. In magnificent relationships, respect grows by days, weeks and years.

Respect is earned, and given. In any relationship of quality, respect is active, not passive. It requires an investment of time, love, care and courage.

If I am not capable of granting everyone I meet the same level of respect, then should I expect another to grant me respect in that first instance? I think not. This is how we give respect. No matter colour, gender, dress, age, costume. We choose (or not) to allow the other party to be fully who they are. Then we observe actions, just as our actions are observed.

The moment we start to speak of others disrespectfully either to their face, behind their back or under our breath is the moment the relationship turns towards darkness.

At the point of noticing a loss of respect towards another we have a choice. This choice is context driven.

*no longer engage in investing in the relationship

*“Speak the Truth” about our experience of our loss of respect and give the other person our respectful attention to respond differently. In other words care enough about the other to give them the opportunity to contextualise their action, apologise, provide us with a perspective we had not considered or respond. This is an act of courage and commitment. It is birthed by the desire to grant respect through our actions.

*increase our evidence seeking to affirm our loss of respect is valid, which is a toxic spiral with a sad ending

In working with clients through relational issues, almost always the first instance that the seed of disrespect is born, it is ignored, until at some time, it is almost impossible to restore, at least without some external facilitation. It can be restored if both parties are willing to put aside their library of evidence for a small moment in time and seek instead to deeply and wholly understand the others point of view. I call this this Conversation for Understanding.

Photo credit: Christine McDougall


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