Learn about the importance of respect in today’s today’s guide. Audio version available here.
Respect is one of the most important currencies in life. But why is it so important? Just why does respect play such an important role in our lives?
That is what you will learn about in today’s guide.
Keep reading to learn more.
Learning respect as children
So let’s talk about respect.
Growing up, it was instilled in me that treating those older than me with respect was the thing to do. It wasn’t just about decency or proper form, it was a must. I absolutely had to follow that rule, and that’s a good thing.
I’m sure most of you had a similar rule that you learned from your parents and teachers while growing up.
It’s a good rule to grow up with.
Over time though I have modified that rule because it is not just the people who are older than us that need to be treated with respect – everyone does, no matter their age, status, etc.
But you might be wondering, why is respect so important?
Well, there are a couple of big reasons.
The importance of respect
Here are some important reasons why respect is so important:
The Law of Reciprocity
As the saying goes, to get respect you have to give respect. The law of reciprocity is one of the most fundamental psychological principles that govern us.
Reciprocity is one of our core functioning principles – it is embedded in our basic neurological programming. If you don’t know much about it, check out this resource on the psychology of reciprocity.
Simply put, our interactions are mainly based on reciprocation. One good deed begets another, and all that.
Respect, by and large, is also contingent on that principle. If you give none, you get none. So to get respect, it is a must that you give it too. That makes this a big reason why it is important to treat people with respect.
But there’s more.
You never know who you will need
Here’s another reason. Life is unpredictable. You never know where you might find yourself or who you might need help from down the line. The waiter or garbage-collector someone treats with disdain today might become the person they need help from tomorrow.
So that’s a practical reason to be respectful towards others.
Let’s face it, there are no guarantees in life, and treating people with disrespect can burn the very bridges that you might need to cross over to the other side one day.
Here’s a third reason why it is important to treat others with respect, a more spiritual or moral one: it is important to treat others the way you want to be treated. So this is the moral perspective, and it’s all about fairness.
If you want to be treated with respect, then it is only fair that you treat others with respect too, makes sense? That makes fairness another big reason why respect is important.
Here’s a fourth one, yet another important reason why everyone should be treated with respect – you get what you give.
It’s the whole karma angle.
You do good, you get good back, whereas you do bad and it will come back to bite you in the ass. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but it will.
This is not just a spiritual perspective either – it is, in fact, a universal rule. Actions always have consequences. This is why it is so important to think before you act. So there you have one more big reason to treat others with respect.
Here’s a fifth big reason for the necessity of respect, and a more practical reason if you will – treating others with respect makes you more likeable.
Let me put it to you this way – no one likes jerks, and that’s exactly how people perceive people who treat others with disrespect.
Think about it, do you like people who treat others disrespectfully?
No, you don’t.
No one does.
So why risk being that person?
Those 5 reasons mentioned above about the importance of respect should have you convinced that respect is important. But here’s another one for good measure, another important reason: treating others with respect is the right thing to do.
Why respect just makes sense
There’s a really famous phrase derived from the Bible that I quite like: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you“. So it’s about fairness and reciprocity, it’s about treating people the way you would like to be treated. The Quran has a similar verse too, as does the Torah, and I am pretty certain that so do the other religious texts and nearly all the other major bodies of philosophy.
The point is, the importance of respect has been recognized since the beginning of time, no matter what form of religion or philosophy people held dear to them or followed.
And for good reason.
Because without respect, the world won’t function.
Our whole social system is dependent on respect. Take that out, and what you will end up with is a way of living none of us would consider nice or pleasant. It will be chaos, and anarchy, and not in a good way.
Respect is the right thing to do. Not just from a moral perspective, but from a practical point of view. So yes, from a moral point of view respect is a must, but what about from a practical perspective – practically, is respect really important, or essential?
Does it have a practical impact on our lives?
Well, yes, it does.
In fact, it has a massive impact on our lives – so much so that I would count respect is one of the most important currencies of life.
Because without respect, it becomes hard to live and function well in society. The equation is simple – you give zero respect, you get zero respect.
Can you survive without it?
But just survive. Let me put it to you this way – no one wants to just survive, we all want to live a good life, a life where we thrive.
If you plan to not just survive, but actually thrive in life, you cannot do it without respect, because without respect you will have no connection, no support and no cooperation, and those are important, if not essential, for survival.
Humans are social beings – social interaction is just as important to us as food and shelter. And guess what you will have none of if you have no respect.
Based on all the reasons I’ve talked about so far, it should be pretty clear by now that treating others with respect is important. Very important. It’s not just important, it is essential.
At the end of the day, it is just better to be respectful, don’t you think?
The exception to the rule
There is a caveat though – some people don’t deserve respect, like people who’ve disrespected you or those you care about.
They have not given you respect, and as such don’t deserve any from you.
I’m not a believer of the whole turn your other cheek principle: if someone treats you with disrespect, they don’t deserve respect from you. everyone deserves respect unless they don’t treat others with respect. The law of reciprocity.
But that’s the caveat, the exception to the rule. That is important to remember.
So, until and unless someone has proven themselves undeserving of respect, respect operates as a universal principle: you treat everyone with respect.
Innocent until proven guilty.
What about wealth, fame and status?
Let’s shed some light on wealth, fame and status: you might think that they automatically infer respect…
Wealth, fame and status do not automatically make someone respectable. Just having money, fame or status does not automatically make someone worthy of respect.
Respect is earned.
It might seem like it does, like people with money, fame or status automatically get respect, but often what you see as resect is nothing but fear, and that is why you see people turning on this supposedly respectable people fast when they have a fall from grace. People who are truly respected get respect even if they have nothing.
True respect is not contingent on having money, fame or power, or any other external factors.
Think about the most respected people in history – like Mahatma Gandhi, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, and so on. None of them was very rich or had a lot of power or status initially. They all have one thing in common – they treated others with respect, and that was essential for them to gain respect.
Can you imagine how much any of those people would have been able to achieve if they acted like jerks and treated others with disrespect? Do you see the importance of respect?
Without giving respect and treating people well, none of those people would have the respect they earned.
The respect they earned through their actions, including the way they treated others, as well as the good work they did, is what led to their fame and power. Most of these people had very little, to begin with, but still were respected. Not just that they were respected in their time, they are still respected even after many years of their passing.
I cannot stress enough the importance of respect.
It is not an exaggeration when I say that respect is absolutely essential for your life, your success, and your happiness. Not just from a moral, spiritual or philosophical point of view, but from a practical point of view as well.
And it’s easy.
Here’s the great thing about giving and getting respect – it is not hard. It is not difficult to give or get respect. All it all really comes down to is being a decent human being, and doing things we should be doing as good people anyway – things like treating others with respect and fairness, things like doing good, and being kind and generous. You don’t need to spend money or a lot of effort. It’s actually quite simple. Respect is actually quite simple.
All you really need to do is shift (and improve) the way you think.
Just realise that treating others with respect is not just the good and right thing to do, but it is also an essential thing to do.
Respect is an integral and essential part of life.
I hope you found this guide on respect useful, and that it has reminded you and made you more aware of the importance of treating others with respect, and of upgrading your mindset.
If you have any questions about today’s guide about the importance of respect, feel free to post them below.
Here’s to a better mind, and life.
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