The Fifth Tool of Civility: Show Respect


When I again went to research the word “respect,” I found two distinctive definitions. The first is “to admire someone deeply as a result of their abilities, qualities or achievement.” This definition is the one I learned as a child: Respect your elders, those in uniform, your teachers, the flag. There are limits on who is to be respected and who is not. 

The second definition is about “due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights and traditions of others.” Here we are to respect every human being, animal, plant and all on the earth and beyond. 

Although it is clearly important to honor those who have acted in an outstanding way, it is necessary that we address all in our world with respect. This is even more evident when we trace the origins of the word: from the Latin “respectus,” which relates to attention, regard, consideration. We are to listen with positive regard to any other person.

To begin to show respect to others, we must first give ourselves respect by being good and taking care of ourselves. When we’re not pleased with ourselves, rather than engaging in put-downs, we can look at what we could do to change.

With a positive attitude toward ourselves, it becomes easier to show respect to others. We want to treat them as we are treating ourselves. We can affirm their opinions, empathize with their different perspectives and show gratitude for their input.

Here are some additional signs that we’re showing respect to others: We are honest. We can disagree. We ask for others’ opinions. We keep our word. We do not waste others’ time. 

Remember that as we show respect, others will follow our example.

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