Why does it hurt so much when someone doesn't listen to you? This question may seem juvenile. However, if you're like me, you may ask yourself this question throughout the day. There are many circumstances prompted it. For example, maybe you just had a conversation with a good friend of yours, but you asked more probing questions of that person then she asked in return. Maybe you talked to a role model, your parent, your future boss, or whoever. Whatever the circumstance, the common denominator is a lack of respect.
As human beings we deeply long to be respected by our peers, our loved ones, are role models, and even our enemies. The problem is we may feel as if we show respect to many people without ever receiving it in return. Is this really the case? There's probably a good chance that there are more people out there that feel as if they show respect than actually are. If many of us feel this way, yet many of us did not receive a right recognition of our capacities, character qualities, and accomplishments, then it probably follows that many of us are not actually going out of our way to respect.
So how do we overcome this impasse of mutual disrespect? First, know what respect is. Respect is not just that subliminal emotion of all of that one feels in the presence of a highly accomplished person. Certainly, that feeling has been produced by respect, but it's not equivalent to the moral action of respect. Respect is the habit of identifying and acknowledging another person's abilities, character qualities, and personal accomplishments. One must first learn how to recognize another person's unique capacities, virtuous traits, and accomplishments. Humility is required in order to recognize another's unique capacity. To recognize what is unique about somebody requires that you must admit what is not unique about you. One must know what virtue is in order to recognize it in another. Many of us falter at this point. You can prove this by a simple test. Sit down with obtaining a piece of paper. Take a few minutes to write down all of the character qualities that you admire in people. Now, provide concise definitions for each character quality. Many of us can accomplish the first few steps, but it is the last step that many of us began to stammer.
The bottom line is, respect is difficult to communicate to another person, especially if we ourselves are unclear about what we admire. Yes, we can show respect to people by acknowledging their capacity and accomplishments, but if we want to show a deep respect for somebody we must recognize the principles that govern their power and enable to accomplish their achievements. If we begin to show deep respect for others, we will not necessarily feel the need to be respected at all times by all people because strong character does not seek constant human recognition. That truth alone is more enabling then the disappointing quest for respect.