I’ve often thought respect is the foundation of a good relationship. Without respect, the other things we want from our relationships like trust, love, fulfillment and meaning all seem hollower. Respect is a fertile ground in which trust and love and can grow abundantly.
Recently I found this great article written for school teachers about teaching trust to children. The article explains respect should not be confused with obedience. We may obey people we are afraid of, or for some reason defer to their authority. That does not mean we respect them. The article also states the best way to teach respect is to be respectful. I find that very important as when I look around the world, I see many people displaying a sense of entitlement to the respect they “deserve” without acknowledging any responsibility to give respect to others. Here are some great bullet points about how to teach respect to your partner by first being respectful:
Be honest – If you do something wrong, admit it and apologize. Be aware of how your actions affect your partner and take responsibility for the consequences of those actions.
Be positive – Don’t embarrass, insult or make fun of your partner. This is as important when it’s just the two of you as it is in public. We are programmed by society to shape behavior through criticism. Just because it is common and everyone does it, doesn’t make it a good idea.
Be trusting – Let your partner make choices and take responsibility. I ask people all the time “what is the definition of trust?” People mistakenly believe trust is a confident belief you have for someone after they’ve proven worthy of it. WRONG! Trust is about believing and being confident in someone without guarantee. It’s also about forgiving people when they are truly sorry for having hurt you.
Be a good listener – Listen to your partner’s side of the story before reaching a conclusion. How often do you interrupt or spend think about what how you are going to respond even before your partner has quit speaking? Give your partner your full attention. Be aware of how your body language conveys interest and attention. If you are turned away doing something with your hands, I know you are not listening to me really. Just saying you are doesn’t change reality. Learning to listen is a talent, skill and an art. You have to practice it to become better at it. It doesn’t happen without time, attention and energy.
Be polite – Use “please” and “thank you.” Be aware and respectful of your partner’s space. You can create a lot of happiness and contentment in your relationship simply by exercising basic politeness.
Be reliable – Keep promises. Show your partner you mean what you say.
These are basic, simple tips to use in your everyday life. You can transform your relationship and your life just by practicing these every day.