For other uses, see Respect (disambiguation).
Respect is a positive feeling or action shown towards someone or something considered important, or held in high esteem or regard; it conveys a sense of admiration for good or valuable qualities; and it is also the process of honoring someone by exhibiting care, concern, or consideration for their needs or feelings.
Some people may earn the respect of individuals by assisting others or by playing important social roles. In many cultures, individuals are considered to be worthy of respect until they prove otherwise. Courtesies that show respect include simple words and phrases like "thank you" in the West, simple physical gestures like a slight bow in the East, a smile, or direct eye contact, or a simple handshake.
Respect is shown in many different languages by following certain grammatical conventions, especially in referring to individuals.
An honorific is a word or expression (often a pronoun) that shows respect when used in addressing or referring to a person or animal.
Typically honorifics are used for second and third persons; use for first person is less common. Some languages have anti-honorific first person forms (like "your most humble servant" or "this unworthy person") whose effect is to enhance the relative honor accorded a second or third person.
For instance, it is disrespectful to not use polite language and honorifics when speaking in Japanese with someone having a higher social status. The Japanese honorific "san" can be used when speaking English.
In China it is rude to call someone by their first name unless you have known them for a long period of time. In work-related situations people address each other by their title. At home people often refer to each other by nicknames or terms of kinship. In the Chinese culture, individuals often address their friends as juniors and seniors even if they are just a few months younger or older. When a Chinese person asks someone their age they often do this so they know how to address the person.
See also: Category:Gestures of respect
In Islamic cultures around the world there are many ways to show respect to people. For example, it is recommended to kiss the hands of parents, grand parents and teachers. Also it is narrated in the sayings of Muhammad that if a person looks at the faces of parents and teachers with a smile, he will definitely rewarded by Allah with success and happiness.
In India, it is customary that, out of respect, when a person's foot accidentally touches a book or any written material (considered to be a manifestations of Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge) or another person's leg, it will be followed by an apology in the form of a single hand gesture (Pranāma) with the right hand, where the offending person first touches the object with the finger tips and then the forehead and/or chest. This also counts for money, which is considered to be a manifestation of the goddess of wealth Lakshmi. Pranāma, or the touching of feet in Indian culture is a sign of respect. For instance, when a child is greeting his or her grandparent, they typically will touch their hands to their grandparents' feet. In Indian culture, it is believed that the feet are a source of power and love.
In many African/West Indian descent communities and some non-African//West Indian descent communities, respect can be signified by the touching of fists.
Many gestures or physical acts that are common in the West can be considered disrespectful in Japan. For instance, one should not point directly at someone. When greeting someone or thanking them, it may be insulting if the person of lower status does not bow lower than the person with higher status. The duration and level of the bow depends on many factors such as age and status. Some signs of physical respect apply to women only. If a woman does not wear cosmetics or a brassiere, it is possible that she will be considered unprofessional or others may think she does not care about the situation.
See also: Category:Chinese honorifics
Unlike Japanese culture, it is not necessary in Chinese culture to bow to one another as a greeting or parting gesture. Bowing is generally reserved as a sign of respect for elders and ancestors. When bowing, they place the fist of the right hand in the palm of their left at stomach level. The deeper the bow, the more respect they are showing.
In Chinese culture, there is not much participation in physical contact, especially when doing business because this can be seen as too casual, thus disrespectful. It is considered rude to slap, pat, or put one's arm around the shoulders of another. However, affection in same-sex friendships in East Asia is much more pronounced than in the West. Same-sex friends will often be seen with their arms around one another, holding hands, and other signs of physical affection.
It is uncommon to see very many hand gestures being used in Chinese culture because this is often considered to be excessive.  The Chinese sometimes do not smile or exchange greetings with strangers. Smiling or being friendly to someone you do not know well can be considered rude and too familiar. It is also common to see Chinese women covering their mouths when they laugh. Traditionally, a woman who laughed too loudly was considered to be uncouth and ill bred.
Traditionally, there was not much hand-shaking in Chinese culture. However, this gesture is now widely practiced among men, especially when greeting Westerners or other foreigners. Many Westerners may find Chinese handshakes to be too long or too weak, but this is because a weaker handshake is a gesture of humility and respect.
Kowtowing, or kneeling and bowing so deeply that one's forehead is touching the floor, is practiced during worship at temples. Kowtowing is a powerful gesture reserved mainly for honoring the dead or offering deep respect at a temple.
Many codes of behavior revolve around young people showing respect to older people. Like in many cultures, younger Chinese individuals are expected to defer to older people, let them speak first, sit down after them and not contradict them. Sometimes when an older person enters a room, everyone stands. People are often introduced from oldest to youngest. Often time, younger people will go out of their way to open doors for their elders and not cross their legs in front of them. The older you are the more respect you are expected to be treated with.
As a cultural value
Indigenous American culture
In many indigenous American societies the perspective on respect differs slightly because it serves as an important concept valued in their culture's context. Aside from meaning positive feelings of esteem or deference is also viewed as a moral value that teaches indigenous individuals about their culture. In addition, this moral value is treated as a process that influences certain participation in the community and also helps the individual develop and become integrated into their culture's community. During childhood is when this value of respect is taught because indigenous children participating in and learning about their community is an important aspect of the culture.
Respect as a form of behavior and participation is especially important in childhood as it serves as a basis of how the child must conduct themselves in their community. Children engage in mature activities such as cooking for the family, cleaning and sweeping the house, caring for infant peers, and crop work. Indigenous children learn to view their participation in these activities are representation of respect. Through his manner of participation of activities of respect is how children not only learn about culture but also practice it as boi wel
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|"When men and women are able to respect and accept their differences then love has a chance to blossom." -- John Gray|
In a class on negotiations and the impact of power, two students in a mock group negotiation exercise willingly walked out of a profitable deal just so that a stronger member of the group could be taught a lesson and be left with nothing. When asked in the debriefing session as to the reason, the response that came was that the man in power was asserting his authority over the less powerful groups and constantly showed an arrogant attitude. The lack of respect given was enough for them to accept losses, provided that the student with power lost face in front of others.
Another group in the same class walked in with extremely different results. The outcome was more equally distributed. In this case, the person in power was asked for the reason. His reasoning was: ‘I know I have power; but I don't need to show it. I have to build relationships with these other players, so it is important I treat them with respect. For it is these small relationships that will help me in the future.'
What is Respect?
Sarah Cobb describes the importance of framing values clearly in one's narratives.
Every human being and nation, irrespective of their power or strength, has the right to be respected. "Respect is an unassuming resounding force, the stuff that equity and justice are made of." It means being treated with consideration and esteem and to be willing to treat people similarly.. It means to have a regard for other peoples' feelings, listening to people and hearing them, i.e. giving them one's full attention. Even more importantly, respect means treating one with dignity. Respect is the opposite of humiliation and contempt. So where the latter can be a cause of conflict, the former and its opposite can help transform it. As William Ury writes in his book The Third Side: "Human beings have a host of emotional needs- for love and recognition, for belonging and identity, for purpose and meaning to lives. If all these needs had to be subsumed in one word, it might be respect".
Importance of Respect in Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation
Respect is the first positive step in building a relationship and relationships are central to conflict transformation. One does not have to like a person or understand his viewpoint to accord him respect. Respect comes with the belief that a person or culture can have beliefs contradictory to ours and we should still honor them, as basic respect is a fundamental right of all human beings. In addition, goals and concessions become easier to attain when the element of respect is present As Bill Richardson, the US permanent representative to the UN put it. "You have to be a human being. You cannot be arrogant..... If you treat each individual with respect, each nation with dignity, you can get a lot further than trying to muscle them"
A case example is that of John Kamm, the founder of Dui Hua Foundation. Kamm has been successful in persuading the Chinese government to release political prisoners, when many others have failed. He has found that approaching the Chinese "with dignity and respect facilitated their response to his inquiries and uncovered a wealth of information regarding the status and well being of thousands of political prisoners."
Peacebuilding and conflict transformation strongly emphasize the human relationship aspect. Therefore, for peacebuilding to succeed, the element of respect is essential.
Respect plays an important role in a number of ways.
- Respect allows one to build trust with "the other."
- Respect allows one to build and rebuild relationships.
- It provides one with "an entry," into the other side
- Those who are respected within the community are most likely to be able to bring or encourage peace.
- In addition, according respect can make the key difference in the direction of the conflict.
- Its presence can lead to a positive change, whilst its absence may lead to even more destruction.
The presence of respect can therefore create opportunities. It is then up to the peace builder to act upon them.
Thus, for a peacebuilder, it is important to look at respect from different angles. First is the importance of treating parties to a conflict with civility and honor. Once people are accorded respect, they are more willing to make compromises which are long term and sustainable, rather than those that are made under duress. Second, peacebuilders and "outsider neutral" mediators need to look for links within the conflicted society and community that have the respect of the people, such as professors, elders, religious leaders etc. Through these people, the mediators and peacebuilders can build networks and contacts. And through their help, peacebuilders and mediators can begin to build rapport with the conflicting parties.
What Happens in the Absence of Respect?
Contempt and humiliation are the absence of respect, as are a sense of being unheard or not understood. The absence of respect or a perceived lack of respect often leads to conflict at an individual, family and societal level. Since the first key step to building strong relationships is respect, the absence of respect or the breakdown of respect are also key factors in the breakdown of relationships and in the occurrence of conflict. Relationships and contacts that are built without the presence of respect are seldom long term or sustainable.
Respect is created in many ways.
- It is created when people treat others as they want to be treated. This brings us to the famous quotation from the Bible. "Do unto others as you would others do unto you". This also brings the element of circularity to it. That is, things are connected and in relationship. So the growth of something, such as respect, often nourishes itself from its own process and dynamics. Be the first to accord respect, and with time, it will develop amongst all the conflicting parties.
- Avoid insulting people or their culture; instead try to understand them. Many disastrous interactions are characterized by attitudes such as arrogance, disdain, fear of difference, etc. To avoid this, it helps to contact people who are familiar with the unfamiliar culture and can give the peacebuilder guidelines of how to best adapt to the culture.
- Be courteous. Listen to what others have to say. Treat people fairly. All the basic elements "that we learned in Kindergarten" will go a long way to creating an atmosphere of trust and respect.
- Apart from the above, when already involved in a conflict, ‘separating the people from the problem' also allows one to treat the other side with honor. Recognizing that the issue is the problem at hand and not the people can also help create respect.
William Ury tells how he managed to build trust with the leaders in Venezuela and through shuttle diplomacy and focusing on their interests got them working together to prevent violence.
Thus the presence of respect can help transform conflicts, by providing opportunities that did not exist before. At the same time, the absence of respect can lead to conflict. What makes men like Bill Richardson and John Kamm succeed in negotiations and dialogue where many other fail, especially in their dealings with cultures other than our own? What makes them different from others? Both cite respect to be their main secret. Recognize respect to be a basic human right, treat individuals and states with dignity, and you will receive a more sustainable response. The relationships so established will be based on mutual trust and respect, and hence is likely to last. In contrast, if you browbeat your enemies (or both sides if you are the mediator) then even though the goal may be attained, the relationship will be resentful, and backlash, more than stable peace is the more likely outcome.
 William Aiken. "Respect". In CPA Journal. Available online at http://www.nysscpa.org/cpajournal/2002/0202/nv/nv14a.htm
 Ury, William. " The third side" New York: Penguin, 2000
 Lederach. John Paul. The Little Book of Conflict Transformation
 Szulc, Tad. How to talk to a Dictator
 The MacArthur Fellows Program. Available online at http://www.macfound.org/programs/fellows/
 Refer to the story from Ghana " I do not wish to in John Paul Lederach's "The Moral Imagination"
 Lederach. John Paul. The Little Book of Conflict Transformation
 Moore, Christopher W. and Woodrow, Peter. "What Do I Need to Know About Culture? Practitioners Suggest..." In Into the Eye of the Storm. Edited by John Paul Lederach and Janice Moomaw Jenner.
 "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" available online at http://www.peace.ca/kindergarten.htm and as a book with the same title written by Robert Fulghum. Ivy Books; Reissue edition. 1989.
 Ury, William & fisher. Getting to Yes. New York: Penguin Books. 1991
Use the following to cite this article:
Farid, Sana. "Respect." Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Information Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: July 2005 <http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/respect>.