#196 - Respect is a two-way street

Respect can be a funny thing. We all want to be respected yet are we respecting others?

There was a great book written 14 years ago. The title is The 5 Love Languages. I consider it a must read for anyone that is interested in being a better communicator.

One of my top two love languages is “Acts of Service”. Acts of service is just what it sounds like, doing things for others. “Gifts”, on the other hand, don’t even register with me. In my seminars and individual coaching I have often told the story of the emotional struggles I would go through, especially at Christmas time, trying to figure out what to get my mother. (To learn about all 5 love languages, read the book.)

She would always say, “Whatever you get me will be fine.” As a 10 or 12-year-old boy, that was absolutely no help! As a 61-year-old man, that response is absolutely no help!

I’ve struggled with gift giving my entire life. You have to give me some idea about what you want. Hints are not overly helpful and the line “Well, if you don’t know what I want, then I guess you don’t know me that well, do you!” is even less helpful.

I’m not a mind reader! Just tell me what you want!

And, when I tell you I don’t like gifts, please respect my wishes.

The other night I was accused of being a control freak because I declined to take a gift as payment for a couple of household projects that I did for a friend. Even after setting the expectations that I wanted nothing and that there were no strings attached to my work, she insisted on repaying my efforts with gifts.

The first gift I graciously accepted in addition to a couple of home cooked meals. The second time she tried to give a gift, I declined. She was upset and told me that I hurt her feelings.

Could I have accepted the second gift? Sure, even thought she totally ignored my setting of expectations up front and my objections to the first gift. In this case, her gift felt more like a payment for something that gave me great joy in doing.

In essence she was stealing my joy of doing something nice for someone else.

The flip side of that coin is that I stole her joy in doing something nice for me.

Where do you draw the line? That’s a tough question to answer. For those of you that are great gift givers, you’re probably calling me a jerk and Mr. Insensitive. On the other hand, there are those of you out there that know exactly how it feels to get gifts that are unwanted and unexpected.

Life should be about respect.

Your values are not necessarily my values. That doesn’t make either one of us right or wrong. When you learn to respect the values, wishes, and desires of others you’ll go a long way in building stronger friendships and relationships.

When you dismiss someone’s values simply because your values are different, you start to undermine the respect they have for you. Remember, it’s not all about you!

Respect is a two-way street. Make sure you’re not stealing someone else’s joy just to satisfy your need to feel comfortable. Sometimes a simple Thank You is all that’s needed.

If you’d like to read more about Respect and other important qualities in a great relationship, check out my book, Dating Backward: A practical guide to dating and finding your soul mate in the Resources page of my website.

Have a great and blessed week.