Do you think respect varies among relationships? How important do you feel respect is?

What Does Respect Mean to You?

photo by Dinastoria via flickr

What Does Respect Mean to You?

Have you heard the phrase “you need to respect me” or “everybody deserves respect”, but what does being respected really mean? Should people have to earn respect or is it something everyone is entitled to until they lose it?

According to the youth-serving website,, respect between two persons means that “each person values who the other is and understands the other person’s boundaries.”

In this case, respect is not earned. True respect asks us all to take each person as they are.

It also means that we are to recognize each person’s right to their personal space, beliefs, opinions, etc. You may not agree with their opinions, but you should understand their right to express those opinions, and that you also enjoy the right to disagree.

A lack of respect can develop into bullying among youth. According to, there are several ways to create a safe environment where mutual respect can thrive.

  • Stop and think before you say or do something that could hurt someone.
  • If you feel like being mean to someone, find something else to do. Play a game, watch TV, or talk to a friend.
  • Keep in mind that everyone is different. Not better or worse. Just different.

Again, respect is taking people for what they are, and treating others with the same care that you give to you or someone you love.

One of the obstacles to respect between individuals is preconceptions. You may judge someone based on their appearance, or the ways in which they are different from them. These judgements can be called “labels.”

The organization Youth First, which provides behavioral health services programs and Master’s level social workers to prevention programs in Indiana, created a program called “Why Try,” which is meant to teach resiliency and respect for others amongst youth.

One of the activities in the program is called “Tearing Off Labels.” Using the analogy of canned goods, the lesson is that everyone is labeled. There are good labels and bad labels. In the lesson, youth are asked to choose which label they prefer, as well as learn how to receive and keep positive labels. They can also “tear off” the labels that they may be struggling against. Most importantly, they are reminded to “not judge a book by its cover.”

Despite all of these perspectives, the meaning of respect varies. Respect can be something that is defined by a particular relationship (e.g. between parents and their children, between partners, between friends). It can be defined by a shared environment, like a school or workplace. However, the application of respect is universal. It means choosing to treat others with the same care that you would hope to receive yourself.

Do you think respect varies among relationships? How important do you feel respect is?

– Dyanne


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