R.E.L.A.T.E. Part 1 - Applied Respect
by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
So the theory is good. You acknowledge the individuality of the other and are committed to preserving, valuing and cherishing it. But how do you apply "respect". What does it look like in practice, in the real world of relationships? Here are four examples of 'applied respect' (this is just a sample and by no means a full list).
a) To genuinely pay attention to what interests the other person even if it has little relevance to me. Someone else's interests are not less significant than mine - just different. So in a respectful relationship - if it's important to you - it's important to me.
b) Not being judgmental. We judge others because we project our own perspective. But the way others behave is not necessarily wrong, just driven by a different view which might be as legitimate as ours. If we truly value the individuality of the other person, we will endeavour to understand them rather than judge them.
c) Knowing how to manage conflict. It is naive to think that good relationships never have dispute or tension. We are all different and at some point we disagree and often strongly. But with respect we are able to work it through effectively strengthening the relationship rather than weakening it. In practice this means having conversations without aggressive and hurtful language and learning to listen and consider the view of the other person.
d) Never put someone else down. Humiliating someone or embarrassing them in any way is to comprise their dignity and is the ultimate display of disrespect. The Talmud compares humiliation to murder. Even when we need to provide constructive feedback, we can criticise actions and attitudes but never by attacking or humiliating the individual themselves.