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Asking for Respect

Respect is one of the most common needs I hear people express.  To know that others honor you, consider your feelings and needs, and how their behavior affects you lays the foundation for an enjoyable relationship.

There are, at least, two basic things to consider with regard to respect.  The first is getting clear about your interpretations of other's behavior.  The second is expressing clearly what does and doesn't meet your need for respect.

Here is a simple example for the first.  You are having a party in your home and your partner spills something on the kitchen floor during the evening.  Later, when your guests are gone, you notice your partner has not cleaned up what s/he spilled.  The truth is that, in this moment, barring an earlier comment from your partner, you don't know why your partner hasn't cleaned it.  Despite this, your mind makes a leap and says, "S/he just leaves the mess for me.  That's so disrespectful!"  If you can catch this as an assumption rather the truth, you might be able to set it aside long enough to ask your partner what kept them from cleaning the mess.  If s/he says, "I expect you to clean it."  You would likely have a conversation about respect.  If your partner says, "Oh, I forgot about it.  I will get it now", you may or may not have a conversation about order or cleanliness.  In sum, when your need for respect comes up, take a moment to check in with your interpretations and notice if it would be helpful to get clarity about the other's intentions before believing your thoughts.

Other situations are more straightforward.  For example, you share your report in a meeting at work and your co-worker says, "Duh, we all knew that.  Your reports aren't that good."  In this case, you are likely clear that, regardless of your co-worker's world, it doesn't meet your need for respect to have "duh" as a part of your interaction.

Here is where you need the more subtle skill of making requests that do meet your need for respect.  Telling your co-worker not to use the word "duh" might be helpful in the short-term, but in the long run it is important to hear your co-worker's frustration and feedback if you are going to work as a team.  The subtlety of coming up with do-able requests, in this case, is that it requires you to guess what the other is trying to express and give them another option for expressing it that would meet your need for respect.  It might sound like this:

"Jacob, when you say "duh", it doesn't meet my need for respect.  Would you be willing to tell me when you're frustrated or irritated rather than saying "duh"?"

This creates a respectful way of keeping the lines of communication open for both of you.

At a fundamental level, no one carries the intention to disrespect you.  People are always attempting to meet their needs, sometimes in ways that consider you and sometimes in ways that don't.  Making specific and do-able requests around what meets your needs for respect makes it easy for other to consider you.

This week notice when your need for respect is met and exactly what others are doing that meets your need.

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3 Responses

  1. Jul 15, 2009

    Hi LaShelle,
    I've been subscribing to your weekly communication gems for a few months now and just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate reading them. As a practitioner of Chinese Medicine with an emphasis on psycho-spiritual-emotional health, I often let my patients know about NVC and your newsletter specifically as potential tools for their toolkit in changing patterns. Just wanted to voice some gratitude and let you know of the ripple effects.
    -Brodie Welch,L.Ac.

  2. Jul 18, 2009

    Very glad to hear it, inspires me in writing. Thank you for taking the time to share.

  3. May 19, 2015
    Ross Galan

    The article above "Asking for Respect" is, shall I say, "inappropriate" if this does not sound a jackal language to you. What I really mean is that we do NOT need to ask for respect or anything for that matter. Give it and you shall have it in return. This is applicable to ALL human "needs": Love, Compassion, etc. Give that which you need/ask for! Do I sound simplistic here? I don't think I am. I even go further than asking internal "needs", but material needs as well. Give money and you will have more of it for instance. "Hey Ross, you sound so cynical", you may say. Perhaps, but if you have ever seen a pump well in a very, very remote village of a certain country, the GIVING & RECEIVING Principle does really work. Well, this pump well if for a long, long time this is not being used, the water goes down. In order for you to draw water from it, yo literally "give" water to it and keep pumping whilst doing so and in no time the pump will give you gallons after gallons of water. This is the Law of Attraction"? - Ross Galan, Ph.D. - NLP Spiritual Life Coach

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