The subtleties of disrespect

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Disrespect is not always rude….. The signs of disrespect are often subtle.

1. When someone does not listen to your point of view or pretends to listen but never takes it seriously it is disrespect. For example, when I used to head a school an associate would often listen to my point of view and then go ahead and do only what pleased her. Initially, it was all well as we were also good friends but on hindsight, it does look a lot like disrespect.

2. When someone knows your boundaries and still repeatedly crosses it expecting you to adjust it is disrespect. For example, most clients and work related contacts know that I do not encourage them on whatsapp as I keep it only for family and very close friends. A client knows this well and yet will always send long messages on WhatsApp and if I do not respond go around telling people false stories associated with her perceived sense of being wronged.

3. When someone interrupts you and limits your expression it is disrespect. For example, while speaking at workshops and conferences there are some “I know it all” people in the audience who often just come so they can let other people notice them. Their disrespect is often in needless interruptions that try to divert the speaker from the topic and make them look bad or inefficient.

4. When someone overlooks what is important to you and provokes you to react and then makes it seem like your fault it is disrespect. For example, earlier this year I was invited for an event. The organizer of the event was extremely disorganized and though he headed his department was often found wanting when it came to knowing how to treat other professionals with respect. Right from adding Mrs as the title to my name to printing out the wrong designation to not responding to emails and messages for clarifications and corrections this person was really disrespectful. The role assigned to him involves making sure there is an eye for detail and a focus on what is important and yet he managed to blame his secretary for being inefficient. The real issue here was his inability to respect other professionals because his own identity came from the academic position he held. It blinded him from seeing others as equally efficient and that led to being disrespectful.

5. When someone let’s you down in front of another and jokes about it trying to make it seem like it was not intentional it is disrespect. A husband making fun of his wife and her appearance in front of people at a wedding is classic example of disrespect. Knowing that she is already struggling with body image issues and still making it a joke is disrespect.

6. When someone lies to you and cheats it is disrespect. For example, people exaggerating their achievements to make you feel small is disrespect. In a marriage comparisons are a sign of disrespect.

7. When people underpay you, when they use your time and services and then question your worth it is disrespect. For example, schools waste money on annual day celebrations and then give you a sob story about how they have no budget for teacher upgradation programmes. It is a sign of disrespect of your professional worth and services.

8. When people do not honour a commitment made to you it is disrespect. For example, a friend who always cancels a meeting in the last minute is disrespectful. Once or twice it can be a genuine problem…. Not all the time.

9. A person who blames you or never accepts that they can be wrong is also disrespectful. These are also people who make you feel that you are not good enough.

10. People who sweet talk you into doing something you don’t like or make compromises on your values are disrespectful.

11. When people talk behind your back about your flaws instead of directly dealing with you are disrespectful.

Though each one of these things seem like normal human foresight, deep within it stems from disrespect. Because when we treat someone as an equal

1. We respect boundaries

2. We allow and value interaction and expression.

3. We genuinely look for ways to work together and value opinions.

4. We remain open to change

5. We look for ways to make even the details matter.

6. We apologise when we are wrong not just in words but in actions almost immediately.

7. We are truthful and our words and actions are congruent.

When we are disrespected it is OK to shut the door and move away. It is never necessary to keep giving in to disrespect. Disrespect stems from a person’s inefficiency, insecurities and from their lack of integrity. It is not about you. Therefore when you see the signs move on.

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