I mentioned in a prior post that one of the most important values for men is respect. While it might not rank in the top spot, I’m quite sure it’s pretty highly valued by women, too. In fact, respect is such a big deal to most of us that I’m going to dive deeper into this personal value.

It’s worth repeating from that earlier post: respect is feeling that other people admire us—a sense of being listened to, appreciated, and accepted. We want others to have confidence in our abilities. Ultimately, why we want respect is to validate that we are acceptable to others.

Characteristics of people we respect

A good way to determine what characteristics people will respect is to look at people in your life that you admire. As you might guess, many surveys have asked this question and here are some of the most frequent responses:

  • Honesty. People also described this characteristic as being trustworthy, authentic, and having actions that match a person’s words.
  • Treating people well. Showing empathy, going out of your way to make others feel important, being polite, kind, and respectful were related responses.
  • Hard working. Showing courage, persistence, and accountability (no excuses) were related traits mentioned.
  • Emotional control. This includes staying calm, not yelling, and not getting defensive.
  • Humility. Respondents also mentioned the willingness to listen with an open mind, admit mistakes, learn, improve, and change.

Fast ways to lose respect

Hopefully it’s obvious, but notice that demanding respect is not on the list. I’m a pretty direct person, and I know how tempting it is for me to demand that my partner respect me. However, that’s probably the fastest way to lose the very thing I want.

Speaking without thinking about how my message is going to be received is another quick way to damage my partner’s respect for me. I’ve learned that if I go into a conversation with too much emotion, I’m likely to later regret what I said or did. Remembering to take a time-out when I’m feeling strong emotions helps me listen and reduces the chance I’ll say or do something stupid.

Stopping domestic violence gets you respected

Notice how being respected and being respectful go hand in hand? As I read through the list, I also saw how they align with our Change Process recommendations for those wanting to stop their acts of domestic violence. Turns out that the things you do to stop being violent are also the same things that earn you respect!

Our Step 1 is Desire Change, which takes humility and a willingness to learn new ways of thinking and acting. Step 2, Preventing Rage, is all about building emotional control. Step 3 and 4 are designed to help you identify and change thought processes so you can consistently treat your partner and others well.

Respect starts with self-respect

I could lecture more about what being respectful looks like, but I’m quite sure you already know everything I’d say. Instead, I asked myself why, when I was abusive to my partner, I didn’t do those things even though I knew them.

Here’s my insight: being respectful requires self-respect. When I was shaky about my own image, I compared myself to others to try to convince myself that I deserved high esteem. In an unintentional yet twisted way, I disrespected my partner and others in a futile attempt to build myself up.

If this explanation seems a bit silly and unbelievable, it’s okay. That awareness took some time and self-evaluation work for me to see. As you dig deeper into the causes of your actions, however, keep an open mind about how self-respect impacts how you respond to others.

Final thoughts

None of us are perfect, and it would be easy to become afraid of making a mistake and losing other people’s respect. The best remedy is to admit our mistakes and sincerely say that we’re sorry. Whatever respect was lost can be more than regained when we work hard to not repeat our errors.

Being respected is a value worth pursuing. When you speak or act respectfully, it comes back to you, although maybe not in that moment or even from that particular person. Knowing you acted honorably builds your self-respect, and no one can take that away from you.

Faith note

Realizing how much God loves and values me has been the biggest boost to my self-respect. Learning that God created me, then sent his son to die so he could have a relationship with me, shows how much he values me. He’s done the same for you, and that relationship sets us free from an excessive need for getting high regard from others.