No one can be all things, and no one knows all things.
I am thinking about this today with regard to multiple situations, situations that remind of the central message in the book, Getting to Yes: "Go hard on the problem, not the people."
So if we think of respect as a problem to solve--what do we do?
First, as much as possible, see situations with empathy--look through the eyes of the people who are experiencing the issue. Understand where they are coming from. Ask and listen before conjecture. Be sensitive. Questions like these might lead you as you move towards respect:
- How are you feeling?
- What do you need?
- If you could have anything right now, what would it be?
- What's your vision for this situation?
- Where are the perceived roadblocks?
- How can I be of help.
Next, know your own limitations? If you're like me, you want to right the wrongs right away sometimes before the essential listening and understanding. Also if you're like me, your will to make better may make you think you can be and give much more than is realistic. The truth is that we almost all have something to give in situations of need, but it's rare that we have everything that is needed. Generally in times of need or change, it takes collaboration to get the job done. Knowing your limitations depends on also knowing your vision, priorities, and responsibilities - if you know what's essential, it makes it much easier to understand what you are able to give and what you may not be able to give.
After that, give and live. To give when you're able is an incredible experience that uplifts your own life as much as anyone else's, but to give and not live makes people resentful so you have to live too--you have to build the life that's meaningful to you and those you love. We all embrace and develop cultures that may be somewhat different from one another, but in general, most people develop shared culture and living based on love for one another, supporting one another's capacity for good living, and including the activities and events that make us happy and fulfilled.
To be respectful at the surface level of good manners, kind words, and thoughtful regard is essential, and it's also essential to go a little deeper with your respect by understanding what people need, how you can help, and keeping a good balance so you have the opportunity to live a good life too.