Is Respect Earned or Deserved?

Recently a Facebook friend posted a Status Shuffle comment that got me thinking.  The post read as follows:



“People need to learn that in order to receive respect that they must learn how to give respect.”


My initial reaction was to “Like” her post and move on, but something in my gut wouldn’t let me just click and run.  My next thought was to post my thoughts about her comment, but it didn’t seem fair to hijack her comment with my soapbox.  So, here I am, 24 hours later and the thoughts are still running around my head.  There is a complete “chicken and egg” argument going on for me and I still am not sure of the correct answer or that there is one. 


I, like many others, have worked for that manager.  That manager that believes that once the word “manager” becomes a part of his title, he deserves your undying respect and loyalty.  If you’re truly unlucky, he doesn’t necessarily treat you with respect, but that’s not where his concern lies.  Of course, I believe that that is not the correct way to inspire confidence, loyalty and hard work from your team.  In those situations, I do think you have to earn your respect.  Anything more than basic respect should not come with the title.  And that is where my thoughts get going. 


What is basic respect?  Do you have to earn basic respect?  Is basic respect something that each of us as human beings should give to others as a manner of living?  If you’ve read any other of my posts, it will be no surprise that I believe that basic respect is a privilege that each of us should afford to each other as a way of living.  Words like please, thank you, you are welcome, and yes sir/ma’am, should be a part of our repertoire without even thinking.  The sad part is that they are not in too many cases and that is the beginning of the mushroom for me.  We’ve taught our daughter to have manners, but that’s just the first step.  She also sees us use our manners every day.  My husband is a born and raised Texan, so it’s nearly second nature for him.  On the other hand was raised in Massachusetts and it’s an effort sometimes.  That effort normally pays off and becomes more like second nature every day. 


So I’ve learned to be friendlier and to treat others as though I am happy to see them even if I am not.  What I have not learned is how not to go around the bend when someone treats me with little or no respect.  My other often said to kill someone with kindness, but she also knew how to fire back with her scorpion tail if she was pushed too far.  I was blessed with her gift of sarcasm but not always with restraint, so you can imagine my dilemma.  Recently I visited a local government office to pay a traffic ticket my husband had received.  It’s something I’ve done before for me and for him, so I know the drill.  I entered the office prepared not to be angry.  I knew it was not the fault of the employee behind the counter that we had  received a ticket.  However, the woman on the other side of the glass seemed to feel that she was a part of the punishment process in Rockwall County, Texas and made no secret of that.  I was treated poorly and could not get my simplest questions answered.  I wanted to tell her what I thought and although I did not, I know my face said things that would make some folks blush.  A week later, I still wish I had killed her with kindness.  I think my reaction played into her expectations.  She has a chip on her shoulder that she has earned and my attitude cemented it for her once again.  Maybe next time I can do better.