That One Thing We Have To Get Straight

First of all, I’d like to apologize for not publishing on here for the last three weeks or so… I had a rough couple of days and needed a little break. But I’m back, so let’s get to it! 🙂

It was someday during this week that I had started a 15 thread long LinkedIn argument with a leadership expert that was all on respect, trust, kindness etc.

More precisley, I was making a case for why respect should be earned rather than freely given to people.

She was in fury. Respect should NEVER be earned! Everyone deserves to be respected and it should be given to anyone! 

I thought this was a good topic to put on this blog for today, as this argument, once again, showed how alienated most people are about what respect actually means, and thought I’d get it straight.

What is respect? 

The Oxford Dictionary defines respect as;

‘A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.’

If you look at other definitions, they more or less say the exact same thing, and all share one particular word… namely, admiration! Respect is therefore something we give to people who we look up to in a certain way, take into appreciation for something they have, we believe is admirable and so on…

I don’t think I have to keep explaining a lot at this point. The definition is pretty clear. But let’s focus on a couple of other things that need to be adressed…

#1 Is everyone is respectable? 

If people say that all they want in life is to be happy, then technically what they are saying doesn’t mean anything. Why? Because there isn’t anybody who doesn’t want to be happy. You need to know what specifically makes you happy in order to progress.

Respect works the exact same way. By saying that everyone should be respected, we’re saying that everyone is admirable, and should be looked up to in some way or form.

But do you really look up to everyone in some or form? I don’t. I’m sure there are a good dozen of people we either know personally or have heard of, we would never admire even the slightest bit! Terrorists, shooters, people who destroy marriages, or people who cause immense pain in others…

I don’t think these people are respectable at all. Do you?

#2 Respect is misinterpreted

When we think of respect, many immediatley tend to think of general kindness or being polite to people. This however, has little to do with respect. You can be polite to people you don’t respect, just because you have some general manners. But that doesn’t mean you respect them. Remember the definition of respect?

Being polite to others when meeting someone new, is something any person with any common sense would support.

Let’s not confuse politeness with respect please.

I don’t think everyone should be respected, simply because not everyone is respectable. Kindness is great, and should always be given selflessley.

What do you think?


Thanks for reading,

Max (The Ultimate Psyche) 



20 thoughts on “That One Thing We Have To Get Straight

  1. Reblogged this on and commented:
    I reblogged this post because I am interested in what my readers think about the essential question posed: Is respect earned or should be freely given?

  2. Nice article. I agree, not everyone deserves respect. We can respect ourselves by giving everyone a chance to be respected. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt initially doesn’t mean they will earn our respect ultimately.

  3. Great point, and great post! I didn’t realize the true meaning of respect, believing it meant something like being kind to another/not crossing boundaries, stepping on toes, etc. Many words have taken on new meanings, in modern language. The general hubris of humanity is that we can make something mean whatever we want, rather than adhering to accepted ‘rules’ (like dictionaries). You might find Webster’s 1828 version a helpful resource, if you like studying language and words and their original sources!

  4. I agree with you in regard to the definition you’ve cited.
    It seems though, that the word respect has taken on another meaning for most of us in the current world we live in. It means that we all, no matter who we are , deserve to be treated with kindness and dignity, no matter what our station in life or what our accomplishments.
    Maybe it means that we respect life and no one deserves to be treated with disrespect.

  5. Great post! I think there may be a generational difference – but only to some extent – in how the subject of respect is taught. I was raised to respect elders, always, until they proved unworthy of respect. I was also taught to grant the element of trust and respect to everyone outside of the obvious ‘bad ones’ until the person demonstrated that they no longer deserved it. I think it looks at the issue from two different angles: Extrinsic and Intrinsic. When we say: “I respect you until you prove me wrong” it is extrinsic – we perhaps place higher value and trust on the other person first. When we say “You must earn my respect first” we perhaps place higher value on Self first. I don’t think either is wrong; I think it is more of whether as an individual we grant respect freely first and take it away later, or we withhold it until we feel it is proven and deserved. I was always a ‘give respect away freely’ person, but after being burned a few times, I am gravitating towards your side of the table now 🙂

  6. About the point of whether all people should be respected or not. I find that for myself, if I put myself on a pedestal to be better than some specific people, I have an easier time being better or less than almost everyone in the world. I believe past all the thoughts we have about ourselves and others that we are essentially equals. Some of my equals do heinous things, some do not. I don’t have to surround myself with those that might be dangerous for me, because I feel that we are equals. I can feel the pain in others, even if they are causing great pain for others. I realize that if my life circumstances were different I might be doing exactly what they are doing. To me, to respect somebody is to acknowledge the deep connection we have a human beings. I don’t have to respect the things they do, but I can respect the spirit within them.

    I realize their is a great deal of theorizing in my writing here. But without these theories I get lost in seeing myself either better or worse than everyone I meet. I would rather stay connected. Connected to the pain of all people, not just the ones that act appropriately.

    1. My Life Experiment – I really get what you are saying. I try to maintain this stance, but it’s tough! Some days I catch myself elevating and other days I fall victim to the comparison trap. When I’m intentional I do well. It takes focus and walking with a loving spirit.

  7. I think that up to this point I was confused between respect and kindness and I would have probably agreed with the lady that was mad at you hahahaha. But now I definitely see the difference and I agree, I do think that respect must be earned.

  8. Perhaps they are misunderstanding compassion for respect. I can have compassion for you without having respect for you. Respect Is earned and lost, like trust. Compassion and the willingness to understand should always be there

  9. I can understand why you had a long debate with someone. You were both talking about two sides to the same coin in my opinion.
    A quick Google search shows two meanings for respect. The one you used in your argument and another: ‘have due regard for someone’s feelings, wishes or rights’. Which seems to be the other person’s viewpoint.

  10. While I agree with you, in general, yet there is another aspect or definition of respect: “due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others”… as in spiritual beliefs… or the idea of “respecting someone else’s space… as is taught to kindergarten students sitting on a rug.

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