About respect

Published on 10 Aug 2020

The dictionary defines respect as an act of giving particular attention; high or special regard; the quality or state of being esteemed.

I make the assumption that each and every one of us wants to be treated with some level of decency. I personally appreciate others who respect my boundaries and in turn I respect theirs. Some time ago, I think over two years ago, I was approached by a person in need of some graphic design work. I met up with them, it was pleasant and they seemed like decent folks. We agreed on some terms, I asked about their needs and deadlines and sent through proofs in time. At some point, things went sour and the client tried to contact me after my usual work hours. The next morning I listened to some angry voice mails and a snotty text asking me why I didn't answer my phone. Let's just say I fired the client a few days after.

This is the kind of thing I am talking about when I talk about respecting people's boundaries. You cannot possibly assume that the person you're trying to contact has their phone attached to their body or isn't busy with another activity. This perpetually connected, always-online culture is something I have never condoned or participated in. It's unhealthy to our minds and bodies. And it's incredibly disrespectful of someone to expect you to jump at their every ping.

At least, to me it is.

I believe in switch-off time to limit exposure to digital devices and just get back to being a human. I do not want to be connected 24-7. Maybe some more extroverted types of people do, but an introvert like me definitely does not, we need our alone time to recharge, so to speak.

Similar things tend to happen in places of work. At times people at work interrupt you, be it with a phone call or a chat message. Sure, you can disable notifications, but what if there's an emergency? Not everything should be considered urgent too. As much as I love it, I feel that the Internet has turned us into these instant-gratification addicts. Things online happen so fast, things are available at the click of a button. If we cannot find something instantly or that video doesn't start streaming right this second, we get irritated.

We do not have the fast computing capabilities of a computer. We're not designed to run multiple operations at once (excluding our amazing life support systems of course) and yo apply this logic to humans is kind of unfair.

My parents raised me to treat people respectfully: be polite, be kind. Acting in this manner towards a stranger is far easier and more pleasant than treating them with hostility, unless they show clear signs of intending to harm you! Saying things like: "you need to earn my respect" sounds to me like someone with narcissistic tendencies. Have you ever treated someone with disrespect and received respectful treatment in return? I'd assume the answer is rarely or never. You get what you give, right?

The problem I have with the statement of "you need to earn my respect" is demeaning, and tells me the person demanding respect is a bit of a bully. Why should I earn your respect? What makes you so important and what do I get for earning your respect? Why do I want you to like me?

I try to treat everyone I encounter with respect and empathy, until they do something that crosses a boundary, therefore earning my disrespect.

The point of my rambling is that respect is mutual, not just something you should earn like a salary.