Sunday, November 2, 2014



I have heard people say that they want to be respected for who they are. But I choose to differ. I have come to realize that respect is never gained by being who you are – affectionate, sincere or conscientious. . .these and many other such attributes alone won’t get you respect. Respect is something you gain with your actions. Respect is strongly correlated to results, whether we like it or not.

In our culture we are misled in our understanding of ‘respect’. We have been taught to respect people irrespective of whether they are worthy of it – so respect your parents, respect your elders, your teachers, respect people with more experience. . .basically just because you were born before me, I have to respect you. That makes no sense to me.

Respect also is linked with a person’s self esteem. So if I am well-respected, I have a high self esteem. If I am not respected, I feel insecure. But in a world that is running like the wind, how can I expect to get respect just for being who I am. Respect is a jewel that is not easy to find. Respect needs to be earned. It needs to be gained. It is not served to you in a shiny platter.

I have learned it the hard way. But that is what makes respect taste so sweet. If you get it easily, you would neither value it nor enjoy it. I have struggled through various circumstances where I have been looked down upon or made fun of – in the beginning – mostly for being ‘new’. The new student, the new recruit, the new colleague, the new manager. What you have done in the past – your education, your experience – does not matter. You have to start from scratch and earn your respect when you enter a new world.

And the same applies in relationships. When I ask married people, what is it that they expect from their partner – one of the top five answers is Respect. Everyone wants to be treated with dignity. But to expect that you’ll be respected for who you are, is wrong. Respect, just like trust, needs to be gained. And you need to work for it. 

When I started working for the first time, I was just another new recruit and nobody took me seriously. It was gradually when the client started appreciating my little pieces of work, that my workplace also changed their opinion about me. Recently in my current job, where I am much younger than what someone at my position should be, my client would act cocky . . .always asking for a ‘senior’s’ involvement. It was really amusing how his behavior changed overnight (he saying sorry for not taking my call, he cracking jokes, asking and clarifying doubts…) after he saw my work. 

In personal life, recently, I have seen people’s attitude change when they come to know that I traveled solo around Europe. Not like I did it to impress anybody. But a little thing like that changes how people perceive you. So now someone (much senior to me) says how he wishes his teenage daughter grows up to become a ‘bold lady’ like me. Or someone (dean of my college) invites me over for lunch to discuss work agenda – whatever that means. Or someone (who I really admire) says – I see so much of my younger self in you. Even in the countries where I traveled solo – the kind of reaction I got from some people when they came to know that I was doing it all by myself, or people’s reaction when I tell them that I planned the whole thing without anybody’s help, was overwhelming.

You need to test yourself, put yourself through challenges, come out of them tactfully, express yourself, steer your life. . .SHOW the world what you are. Then you will get respect. Don’t expect the world to respect you for just existing.

Why do we respect our parents? Because we know how much they have sacrificed and worked towards making our lives comfortable. If my mother did not care about me or advise me when I am down or take care of me when I am sick – would I have respected her as much as I do now? I would have still respected her, sure, because she is my mom. But it is through her actions that she has gained my love, trust and respect. I have cousins who wish they had a mom like mine, who wish to emulate and be a home maker like her, or ask their wives to learn from her. How did that happen? It takes efforts. 

Does that make me selfish? That I will respect you only if you do something? Here it is important to note that I would still respect someone who cannot do anything for me. That’s not the point here. There is always a dignified way of treating people, I am not denying that at all. 

The point is that respect needs to be earned. What you do to earn that respect shapes you as a person. What you become in the process of earning that respect builds your self esteem, and you feel respected. And THAT is important.


  1. I'm still reeling from the impact of "solo through Europe"

  2. Wonderfully said. Respect is something we should earn.It is something we should gain with our actions.
    Ironic it may sound but here in our country most of the people gain respect with power, money, caste and all such things except the qualities he/she possesses.
    And the person who really deserves the respect is looked down upon for being honest, loyal and good.
    I personally feel that Self-Respect is more important. Whether others respect us or not, we should never do a thing which hurts our self respect and conscience. Well automatically slowly but steadily others will also start respecting us. :)

    1. True that!

      Self-respect and respect from others go hand in hand. But to gain self respect also you need to make efforts. No pain, no gain :)

  3. hahaha yes, No pain , no gain :D

    And as you've mentioned,respect is never gained by being who you are – affectionate, sincere or conscientious. . ., And yes many such attributes alone will never fetch us any respect(Atleast not in India). I too agree with that but I want to be happy thinking that it is not the case everywhere. :P

  4. Hey bold lady, when are you going to put your 'adventures of a bold lady in Europe' in print? waiting to read that ;)

    1. hahaha.. did i smell a waft of sarcasm there :P

      for all the 'adventures' you need to hop on to :)

  5. Nice post :) I've always questioned these ideas people have about respect. It needs to be earned. Your actions define who you are :)

    1. Agree :)

      Good to see you here, Oregano.

  6. Some musings random (in all senses of the word)
    ... attempted in Socratic style (in first person questioning : the reader in second person)

    May I respectfully beg to differ :-) ?

    Can't I also respect you for your opinions, these being neither a state of your being, nor your past actions or achievements?

    > respect never gained by ... "affectionate, sincere or conscientious"

    According to whether you see these as character or personality traits, would respecting these be acknowledging you for WHO you ARE, or HOW you ACT, respectively?

    Let's explore this train of thought a little. Respect of these noble atributes of affection, sincerity and conscience /conscientious begins in how I perceive them in you, which is how I see you project them from your character via your personality. But this aspect of respect, the internalized feeling that I have, is only half of it. Without expression of respect for you, without communicating it in some way, verbally or in actions, is it what we would normally think of as "respect"?

    And if I don't manifest self-respect in some way, does this actually exist?

    Here is the little nugget I learned today : the word respect comes from respicere which means "to look back".
    So when you mentally pat yourself on your back looking back over personal memories that make you glow, you truly know self-respect.

    But you need to bring the memory of other's actions, or being, back into the present and project this to them for it to be "respect".

    Nice to pay my respects on this blog again, it's been a while :-)

    1. I think there are two things your are trying to say here. First is about whether opinions (versus 'actions' as I spoke about in this post) could earn someone respect. And I agree. So you would respect someone for their opinion..i.e. the way they think or reflect on something - which again is an action :) When I say one needs to 'do something', I don't necessarily mean construct will ultimately go on to seep in your personality traits.

      Second thing that you talk about is how respect is manifested. I think before someone else recognizes you, your actions, your opinions.....just by making an effort to do something you would have gained self-respect. All I am trying to say is that respect - be it from within you or from others...needs efforts. It is work.

      And if you have 'self respect' without doing anything, without really being worthy of it, then you are in oblivion....and arrogantly so.

  7. Nice post. Really makes me think.
    By the way, I never said I see my younger self in you :P

    1. Hahaha.. you are too old to remember your younger self now :P


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