Analytic Vision


Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 20/05/2010

Today I’ve decided to write about something a little bit more abstract and with great impact to each of our lives. My notion of respect might be rather particular.

I think each person, as a human being, deserves respect as a default right. Of course, rights can sometimes be suspended, but never a priori. I do not condition respect by the respect of others. I believe each person has its own considerations towards respect, and that might be different to mine.

I respect each person’s vision of the world. That vision, including beliefs, attitudes, values, experience, potential, principles, perspectives, expression, is each person’s sum of influences. That means that everything that happened into that person’s life had an influence which has ultimately determined that person’s vision.

That vision may not be correct, might not be according to reality and mostly, is likely different than mine. Still, that vision deserves respect. Now… respect is a value… the translation of a value in a behavior is what makes it visible in the eyes of others.

It is rather likely that lack of respect stands out, more than respect. In the mean time, there are situations when we consider we have behaved respectfully, although other people don’t feel respected. Why does that happen?

First of all, one thing that happens if that when someone thinks he or she is respected, that means it is the same thing as being agreed to. It is not. It is easy to prove lack of respect towards someone not having the same beliefs as you do. But people are not their opinions. And communication is more than agreeing. Some people talk to be listened to and ask questions to be agreed to, but that is not communication. And certainly it is not a proof of respect.

Another thing that might happen would be the tendency of treating a refuse as a personal offense. For example, someone I know asked me to send forward a link on the protest which took place a few days ago in Piata Victoriei from Bucharest. I replied, “I don’t believe in that cause, I don’t want to promote it”. I understood her point of view and that she was affected, and in the same time, while I expressed respect towards her beliefs, I felt judged because she took that as a personal rejection. An idea to keep in mind for such situations: “if someone doesn’t agree to (some of) your ideas, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t agree to you as a person, it doesn’t mean that YOU are denied/rejected/ignored/banned/prohibited“. It just means there’s a difference in opinions. Where there is a difference, there must be respect.

Let’s take an example of a social habit that most people can relate to. It is well known that smoking damages health. That means people who smoke are likely increasing the chances to get their health affected. If you smoke, you are most probably aware of the fact you endanger your health. For example, if someone smokes, I respect that person’s right to do harm to themselves, because it’s that person’s right to choose what to do with his/her health. The same with people who lie to themselves or any other similar situation. While having respect, I do not support their choice in any way. That means if someone asks me for as much as moving a lighter a few inches further, I don’t. I respect their rights, and I disagree with their manifestation.

Why do I do that?

For instance, if someone is doing something wrong for himself/herself, but is interested in changing something, I can find that out with questions, and plant some little suggestions or give information. But, if that person is not really interested, I don’t want to convince them. A lot of time is wasted with discussions like: “I think X!” “Oh, no, I think not X!”. I don’t want to convince anyone that I’m right, it’s not like I own the ultimate truth or get a candy each time i determine someone to change his/her mind… Still, some people continue to behave like that…

I believe each person is entitled to make their own discoveries, in due time. To face a person with a conclusion (s)he is not ready to understand or accept is like taking away from them what they could have discovered, on their own, with the greater gain for themselves. For example, my mother has a very bad opinion about Romania. In the same time, I don’t agree to her bad opinion, but I respect her vision, as I understand it is due to her experience. She did not try to force her own opinion on me, but she expected for me to end up to a similar conclusion. After a few years, I have decided to move from Romania, but not out of HER reasons, but because of MY reasons. That way, I am entirely responsible for my decision.

I will give you an example of how I applied that from my own experience. In highschool, I had a colleague. I used to have with her a lot of contradictions, on different topics. Those contradictions weren’t going anywhere. I was trying to explain to her, among others, the influence of her family situation on her development opportunities. About six (!) years later, she told me she was beginning to understand what I was telling her back then. Now imagine: I could have rambled 6 years on that topic… maybe I would have convinced her, but then, it wasn’t she who had the responsibility and the merit of realizing. Yes, sometimes, it may be a good thing to intervene in someone’s life… but that often happens when people assume they know better what’s appropriate for others.

Thinking you know better what’s appropriate for others is a deep lack of respect, it’s like saying: “You don’t know how to live your life, let me show you”. Even if you’re right, that is not the proper approach. It is one I can afford to use with close friends who appreciate frank, honest opinions.

Another thing that I consider lack of respect is labeling people, judging them for less they truly are, through partial, momentary experiences, especially those of “idiot”. There’s a classic presentation from the ‘ 80s, “how can someone be an idiot?”, which concludes that actually when you tend to believe that someone is an idiot, that means (s)he actually has a very different idea from yours. So the thing to discover when tending to label someone in an un-elegant manner is what is so different in what this person is stating.

Ultimately, do on to others as you want to be done on yourself may sometimes be a form of lack of respect, discounting a fundamental truth: people have different motivations, consider important different things and have different values and expectations. For instance, I like to be awake at 6 AM in the morning, listen to audiobooks while walking on the street and play chess, talk on YM, write on blog and listen to music in the same time. I doubt everyone would like the same thing.

PS: What I have stated until here doesn’t apply when someone might hurt someone else through a certain behavior. One thing I cannot respect is to interfere through your liberty with someone else’s rights.


16 Responses to “Respect”

  1. […] by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 11/07/2010 As I mentioned in the articles “Respect” and “Time Dissipating Made Into an Art“,   I will start this July publishing a […]


  2. I respect your reflections, Stefan. I believe, as you do, that “each person, as a human being, deserves respect as a default right”. Nevertheless, I do not think such a right “can sometimes be suspended” – this may happen in fact, but nobody has any right to suspend anyone’s right to respect, regardless of circumstances, neither a priori nor a posteriori.
    In my view, your vision (which is rather experiential than analytic) refers mainly to another concept: “unconditioned acceptance”.
    Besides, I would argue that trying to convince others does not mean necessarily lack of respect, on the contrary: sometimes, it could be the deepest proof of respect (and care) one can give to another. The real issue is not whether but how it is done: one can take a truly genuine respectful way in trying to convince, to give advice, etc…


  3. […] articole RespectWhat questions to ask your psychologistThe Secret – remastered versionAn idea to change the […]


  4. Ştefan Alexandrescu said

    Elisabeta, please read more carefully: “First of all, one thing that happens if that when someone thinks he or she is respected, that means it is the same thing as being agreed to. It is not.”. “Unconditioned acceptance” is rather related to other terms, such as “approval” or “tolerance”. The term for having an appreciation for something you may not agree to is “respect”. Also, “respect” is a noun, which has a sense by its own. “acceptance” is a noun derrived from the verb “to accept”, it is the result of one’s ACTION of choice – therefore, it confines a behavior. Respect, on the other side, defines an attitude, a value. “Acceptance” is built in time through practicing the behavior and obtaining the skill of “to accept”. “Respect” is a value, from which unspecific behavior derives.
    To acquire respect, one must have a cognitive-behavioral approach. A parent inspires the child to practice respect as acquisition of a value, which is related to identity and status. In those families where children are not inspired by parents, they are “made to obay authority”, therefore the parents obtain similar results to the effects of “respect” even if what they actually inspire is FEAR.
    To acquire acceptANCE, one must practice the behavior and develop the skill of “to accept”.
    This aspect is very relevant, especially in Romania, where it is likely that children grown up with fear of authority will have the behavior one would assimilate with “respect”, but only out of fear. These children, if they do not work towards self-re-educating, will score high on the anti-democracy scale.
    This is my counter-argument to the idea that the concept described in my article would rather be “unconditional acceptance” rather than “respect”.


  5. […] Respect (2010, mai 5) Time dissipating made into an art (2010, iun. 11) The Art of Respecting Message (2010, iulie 11) Actually Living Communication. Between investing and spending (2010, iulie 15) The Modern Buttons of the Digital People (2010, iulie 22) “Soul” File is Write-Protected. Are You Sure You Want to Delete It? (2010, iulie 25) Across-Messages Communication (2010, iulie 31) The Art of Listening Others. Version 2.1.(2010, aug. 3) Transcending Patterns of Communication (2011, aprilie 4) The Windmills of Your Mind (2011, aprilie 4) Less is more. Until it becomes nothing (2011, iun. Photo-Reading People (2011, iun. 6) “The Art of Personal Branding”, or Sometimes, a “pen” is Just a pen. But Sometimes It Isn’t (2011, iun. 15) […]


  6. […] s-a declarat jignită de comportamentul meu, pe care l-a etichetat drept lipsit de respect. Prin urmare, a declamat sobru că ea nu va mai intra în clasă atâta vreme cât eu eram […]


  7. […] Respect 200+ views […]


  8. […] am o viziune usor diferita fata de a dlui profesor despre respect. Respectul este de doua feluri: cel pe care orice om il merita pentru ca e om si cel care se […]


  9. […] (ne-am cunoscut participând la un concurs de antreprenoriat – Net Start-Up 2007). Poate că respectul nu se câştiga niciodată. Poate că toată naţiunea româneasca care caută acceptarea şi […]


  10. […] îţi doreşti să fii respectată profesional, atunci îţi doresc mult succes în a deveni un bun profesionist în aria ta de […]


  11. […] Nu are rost să oferi mere cuiva care vrea pere sau invers. Aceasta este o dovadă de bun simţ şi respect faţă de motivaţiile persoanale ale acelui om. Acesta este un mod diferit de e afla ce anume este […]


  12. […] asupra lumii, iar despre respect am scris mult, dar îţi recomand să citeşti în mod deosebit aici şi aici. Comportamentul, chiar dacă nu defineşte persoana, poate fi un element suficient de […]


  13. […] Respect […]


  14. […] Gal (ne-am cunoscut participând la un concurs de antreprenoriat – Net Start-Up 2007). Poate că respectul nu se câştiga niciodată. Poate că toată naţiunea româneasca care caută acceptarea şi […]


  15. […] Am auzit filosofia asta de la un membru al comunităţii de coaching din România. Eu am o perspectivă diferită, care se relaţionează cu ceea ce am scris în articolul despre respect. […]


  16. […] a articolului „Respect” de Ştefan Alexandrescu, publicat iniţial pe Analytic Vision la 20 mai 2010. Copyright text © […]


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