RESPECT: Is it something people DEMAND, or EARN?

United States
March 30, 2007 6:09pm CST
A few weeks ago, I started a discussion that asked whether TRUST is "earned" or "freely given." Many people shared their opinions, and a wide range of perspectives came to light. This week, I'm curious about people's approach to the issue of RESPECT. What made me think of this was a conversation I once had with my stepdad. I don't remember exactly what we were talking about, but I very distinctly remember his last words: "It will be done in a way that shows the respect a man my age DEMANDS!" At the time (I was in my 20's) I thought it was an incredibly arrogant thing to say. Actually, I still do, in many ways. In MY opinion, respect isn't something people just "demand," on account of age, accomplishments, social status, wealth, or whatever. If you want my respect, you must EARN it; SHOW me that you should be respected, don't just TELL me. That's just MY opinion-- I'm not claiming to be "right" or "wrong." I know respect is used widely as a component of advertising, for example. Movie stars and other public figures are paid to advertise products because their opinions are respected by the public. How does respect work for YOU? Do you DEMAND respect from people, or do you feel you must EARN it, first? Similarly, do you automatically respect certain people because of who they are, or their age, or their accomplishments? Or must they earn your respect through their actual actions? No right or wrong answers here-- just interested in your opinions!
14 people like this
37 responses
• Singapore
31 Mar 07
Everyone loves to be respected. However, I feel that it is something to be earned. If you don't get respected, there is a tendency to demand it because it hurts your ego otherwise. But the thing to note here is that respected that is demanded may be got, but respect that is not freely given is not genuine or permanent. What good is it when people say they respect you but they talk behind your back? True respect is earned and freely given. When you get this true respect, it is an immense honor.
3 people like this
• United States
28 Apr 07
I really think respect that is DEMANDED is a bit like the "solicited apology" where someone DEMANDS that you apologize for something you don't actually feel sorry for... it becomes "just words" with no deeper meaning.
1 person likes this
• Singapore
28 Apr 07
Wow, thank you for your prompt reply. D*rn, shouldn't have given you 50 minuses for ignoring me 4 weeks back lol. JUST KIDDING. -- Can't say you are wrong there. ^^
1 person likes this
• Australia
31 Mar 07
I think there are two basic types of respect: respect for a POSITION and respect for a PERSON. Respect for a position is acknowledging authority. For example, I might have no respect for a particular policeman, but I respect his authority and his right to exercise that authority. If I believe he mis-uses that authority I have the right to use the procedure in place in a democratic country to voice my beliefs in the correct way to those above him, but meanwhile I respect the authority he has. Respect for a person is a different matter. Respect for a person has to be EARNED by that person. This does not mean that I can be disrespectful until he has earned respect. It is still MY responsibility to be respectful at all times to all people. While not every person will deserve to be respected, I will always SHOW them respect. Even when a person has shown he does not deserve respect, I do not have to lower myself to meet his standards. I can still be respectful towards him - and maybe put him to shame. I am reminded of an incident I observed where a gentleman held open a door for a lady. She actually abused him saying she wasn't a lady. He gently replied, "Excuse me. I didn't hold the door because YOU are a lady, but because I am a gentleman."
• United States
28 Apr 07
This is an excellent point... bringing me back to an earlier question of whether we can't separate "respectworthy acts" from the people they are attributed to, as in your example with the policeman. And I really like that quote, at the end!
1 person likes this
• Australia
29 Apr 07
Thank you Denmarkguy for a good discussion. You had a lot of good responses, which made a lot of sense and would be a help to any younger people reading them. Thanks for the best response. I appreciate it.
1 person likes this
@Galena (9123)
31 Mar 07
sort of both really. there is the respect that everyone should be given automatically. the sort of respect that means that you are polite to them and don't damage their property. but that's just manners. and doesn't cover having to agree with someone in order to respect them as they are older than you. but true respect, that's something else. respect as in finding that someone is worth more to you than the average person, and that you will value their opinion more so than other opinions, that sort of respect is Earned. if you demand respect from me, you lose it. simple as that.
3 people like this
• United States
28 Apr 07
Quote: if you demand respect from me, you lose it. simple as that.
1 person likes this
• United States
31 Mar 07
the ideal thing to say will be that i would earn it rather than demand for it. but in today's materialistic world where everyone is ready to crush others, stamp on him or her....n move ahead in life...one yearns for respect and attention.at this moment i feel....i would never demand respect....and that i would make myself respected through my deeds. but i had once read in a book that a man remains honest as long as he doesn't get a chance to get dishonest and compromise with his ideals and morals. i think the same stands for getting respect as well. to be admired and respected is the utmost achievement of any individual. no doubt today most of the people demand for respect... and they do get respect from the ostentatious society....but genuine people always earn respect from other genuine souls. i think this world is divided into two different worlds ..lol!
2 people like this
• United States
28 Apr 07
I certainly understand what you're saying here... but can you really get AUTHENIC respect in situations where people are bullied into "respecting" someone? Or is it just a fear-based response in the interest of self-preservation....
1 person likes this
• United States
30 Apr 07
people who demand respect certainly know that getting authentic respect is out of their reach.....and perhaps they know they wont ever get it..lol!...all they want is mere "respect" to satisfy their ego and their useless pride in order to deny the vagueness of their intellect.
• United States
31 Mar 07
Good discussion. I somewhat believe your opinion but on the other hand I feel that parents (and respective grandparents and elders) should be respected and hate it when my children do not respect me, in fact that is majority of our conflict in our family. I believe I earned my respect from my children, I raised them and gave them a good life and without a want in the world and plenty of love shown and stated. So, as far as respecting elders, although they are not our relatives, they are somebody's and probably have earned the respect through that life that we have not witnessed. Although I must say some people I have met in my life, no matter of their age, by their behavior are not entitled to any respect.
2 people like this
• United States
28 Apr 07
Family ties seem to present a "special category." Yes, to some degree parents and elders can be respected for merely being "parents and elders," but does a "mean old man" or "an abusive parent" deserve the same respect as a "compassionate old man" and a "loving parent?" Just for simply "being" those things? Again, I believe you have to look at the ACTIONS that went with the "rank" a person holds.
@Tetchie (2933)
• Australia
31 Mar 07
A DEMAND in my mind is an ORDER and I don't take orders unless I choose to enlist in an army. Older people lose brownie points when they blurt out these words, it's edged with a sense of fear and that achieves very little except alienation. Respect is totally earned and is given when a person, either older or younger, addresses you humanly. A person who imparts wisdom or makes a positive impression on your life earns respect.
• United States
28 Apr 07
I agree entirely... when people start DEMANDING things, they actually alienate themselves from most people (except maybe the very fearful/compliant), even if their intention was to "connect" with them. In my world, repsect is learned "by example."
1 person likes this
@gegegelay (934)
• Philippines
31 Mar 07
I totally agree, respect must be earned and not to be demanded. I personally do not demand for someone's respect. I show them through my actions that I respect them. I only demand if the person is so insensitive that they're not respecting me anymore. I go to an extent where in I demand for it and I know that I'm not being respected anymore. People have limitations, right? We're just humans. I first show respect to people and therefore, in order to earn their respect.. I show it to them through actions or words, no matter what their ages are. And hopefully, I would get the same kind of respect that I showed them in the first place.
• United States
28 Apr 07
Yes, it is sort of a "Golden Rule" principle, applied to respect-- do onto others...
1 person likes this
@bloods (30)
• Philippines
31 Mar 07
respect is something earned not demanded. people can give it to you if you yourself, respect that opposite person. if you can also respect yourself, then that is the beginning of your happy ending- gaining respect from others.
2 people like this
@diablouk (600)
31 Mar 07
In my opinion, Respect is something you earn. I was always taught to respect my elders and peers when I was younger and I accepted that as the norm. However, as I grew older I found that there were people who felt they deserved respect simply because of their age and used that as an excuse for opinionated responses, arrogance, ignorance and generally an excuse for being rude. I do not expect anyone to respect me simply because I am of a certain age. Any respect I get, I expect to have earned by deeds, actions etc
2 people like this
• United States
31 Mar 07
I think that everyone... old, young, clean, dirty, wealthy, poor, black, white... etc...etc... deserves to be shown respect until they do something to show that they are unworthy. I also feel that you have to give respect to get respect. Treat others as you wish to be treated.
2 people like this
@manzician (4739)
• India
31 Mar 07
Well I would say both. Respect is of two kinds. First one is respect of one human being to other, second is respect of one human being to superior human being. It can be asked as well it can be earned.
2 people like this
• Philippines
31 Mar 07
respect is earned. you cannot demand or ask for respect from others. you have to earn it. how can i respect someone that doesn't deserve it. respect is only given to those who earned it.
2 people like this
• India
31 Mar 07
i think respect is the thing that everybody wants whether that particular person gives it or not to others and so he or she demands a lot through many ways but the real fact is that u can earn it not by demanding but by u r deeds
• Philippines
31 Mar 07
For me, respect is earned and not demanded. This is what i really beleive in since everytime i talk to people, they always agree to it. People earn respect from other people only if he/she gives respect to them. Though it may be true that respect can also be demanded because of age, status or etc, but still we feel good if we earned the respect of other people freely and not with demand. Like what youve written, all of us have our opinions on this, thats why this is mine. tnx
2 people like this
@Bell88 (370)
• Malaysia
31 Mar 07
I believe if people want respect from others, they must show they respect others first. It is as simple as that. No need to demand or earn or whatever. No need to have a high annual income or high flying job or high social status to get people's respect. You just have to respect other people in order to be respected.
2 people like this
@DeaXyza (577)
• United States
31 Mar 07
Love, Trust and Respect are three things that you earn, you have to work very hard and very deligently for it. Anyone who says I deserve respect has to be an Einstein or the soldier who stands at the border to fight for me, my life, my independece (even a soldier or a cop commits mistake and looses the respect they are given unconditionally). Yes they are people who have my respect, ofcourse and why wouldn't they! Others are people who are respected not for their age but because of what they had done with their lives, people's life bio-data is what earns them their respect irrespective of age it could be a 5 year old or a 50 year old, at both ends they must have something to earn that respect right. And you know Love, Trust and respect all of them are such precious fragile things they need to be treasured and all the 3 of them are feelings that keep evolving everyday. I respect a few people for who they are like the cops, soldiers I have already explained why, and I do respect some great industrialists,scientists, politicans even actors/actoresses for their acomplishments. I have respect for my father for what he made of his life from a mere farmer's son who could not afford his education to becoming double masters degree holder, getting fecilitated by the Prime minister of my country for his research which got accredited and accepted by the defence, my grandma-grandpa their life history in itself is worth respecting for and their accomplishments were many besides that they are the greatest people I have known, my husband he is another person whom I not respect just for his accomplishments he is a person to be respected; for the kind of person he is, and last but not the least my friends for who they are. To answer the other question I have not done anything so great with my life to demand respect, so let me add a few more pages of worthiness to my life resume and then maybe, just maybe I will earn that exclusive thing called "R-E-S-P-E-C-T". :)
1 person likes this
• United States
28 Apr 07
A nice and well-thought out response. It makes me wonder if sometimes there is a separation between a person, and their actions. There have been times in my life where I feel like I have respected a certain person's specific act on some situation, without necessarily gaining respect for the WHOLE person.
1 person likes this
@DeaXyza (577)
• United States
28 Apr 07
I agree with you on that there are people who I do not nothing of but have my respect for their actions alone, but these are people I know nothing of but their good action or kindness, like a soldier or a police officer who is there to assist me (they could be awful people too ofcourse we are all humans) but their one act of bravery or kindness awes me!
@LeeLow (116)
• Ireland
30 Mar 07
I think people have to earn it, but I find alot of people expect you to work your ar*e off so to say to get it. I worked on a ship as part of my college year for seven and a half months on one ship and found it harder to earn respect so I had to work for it untill the day i finished and then i finally got it. It's a battle with some people, but it should definitly be earned to a certain extent!
1 person likes this
• United States
31 Mar 07
I suppose some people perhaps abuse (or "stretch") the issue of "earning" respect.
1 person likes this
@LeeLow (116)
• Ireland
1 Apr 07
Well thats when they lose it themselves!
• United States
31 Mar 07
I think that there are different types or degrees of respect just as there are degrees of trust. The first and most basic is simple human respect that each and every person deserves regardless of their age or status in life. The next is a respect that is earned by reaching a certain age and having a certain amount of experience. Of course, that respect may not be what the person themselves thinks they should have and what is actually due them. Another degree of respect is for someone who has earned it by some sort of accomplishment or career status. And, still another degree is respect that is earned by someone's behavior toward others. If someone behaves badly on a constant basis, they do not deserve respect. They may bully people into fearing them but that's not respect. Unfortunately, a lot of people in the world think that money, power and manipulation has caused someone to respect them when it's actually just fear because of what that person threatens to do if they aren't treated a certain way. I hope that makes sense to everyone.
1 person likes this
• United States
28 Apr 07
Yes, that makes sense. I especially agree that you can't bully or buy your way to respect... that's just a false illusion, based on fear.
• Philippines
31 Mar 07
Hi Denmarkguy, I think our thoughts go along together. Regardless of age, status or accomplishments you had if you yourself don't earn respect the way you should it's just too impossible to demand. Mostly people see us the way we want them to treat us, I have been there. The more I show off and demand respect the more I was disrespected. Then I learned the strategy of being humble and working well with people and a group. I realized that being what you trully are is more important than trying to be someone else because people can see that. That's how they'd start to respect you. In the Philippines it is very common to be respectful to elders but there are really cases that gray haired peopled don't even get the respect they wanted because it may have something to do with how they started. So for all of us, I think it's more important to go on our lives smoothly without putting anyone down. The more we are nice to people the more they respect us. I hope i made myself clear.
• United States
28 Apr 07
Quote: Mostly people see us the way we want them to treat us, I have been there. The more I show off and demand respect the more I was disrespected.
@angel68 (138)
• United States
31 Mar 07
Maybe im totally differnt. I give respect freely until i get burnt or disrespected. Just because there are some bad apples in the world..not everyone should suffer from them.
1 person likes this
• United States
28 Apr 07
I am able to do that with TRUST, but less so with respect.