What is respect? Is it having people move out of your way, when you approach? Is it having them hold the door for you or invite you to go first? Perhaps it’s the immediate and unconditional obedience of people who are under your authority… Different people have different definitions of respect but not all of them are correct or accurate. I know that for some older generations, that last one is usually the case. I can remember my grandmother, who always DEMANDED immediate and unconditional obedience and respect from her grandchildren. That doesn’t always produce the best results and in today’s modern world, respect can be a fleeting thing.

Without muddying the waters too badly, respect can be easily defined as admiring someone based on their abilities and achievements, while having due regard for their feelings, traditions and rights. So, what does that admiration entail? Is that obedience aspect a requirement? Most people would be inclined to say no. I respect my friends. But I wouldn’t go so far as to say I would obey them. Would I hold doors open for them? Absolutely. The concept of respect has the tendency to be subjective and not always clear to some people.

Let’s take one of the most commonly assumed shows of disrespect: a disgruntled customer. Now, the concept of “the customer is always right” hasn’t really been a thing in quite a long time. For the most part, retail chains are beginning to understand all too well that the phrase that was coined in the early 1900’s in order to ensure customers didn’t feel cheated or deceived, is no longer being exercised in that spirit. But that doesn’t stop certain customers from using the slogan and expecting it to be obeyed.

So, a disgruntled customer comes up to your till. You scan their items and they immediate take notice that the $3.99 item they wanted didn’t scan as $3.30 as they expected. This is an actual scenario I dealt with, back in my retail days. The customer immediately becomes irritated and agitated, perhaps even name-calling and berating the cashier, who is basically powerless to do anything beyond scanning and charging the listed price. Then, they pull the classic trump card out of their pocket… “Get me your manager, NOW! Don’t you know that the customer is always right?”

I walk up and ask the customer how I can help, who then proceeds to spit out the story in as exaggerated and emotional manner possible. All while demanding respecting (DEMANDING) as she is the customer and her patronage pays our salaries… yada, yada, yada… While she’s busy unloading a flood of verbal diarrhea on me, I send a merchandiser to check on the item to see if we had incorrectly priced it. The result was that the price was correct but the item next to it was a bottle with a lesser amount, which resulted in the lower price. I could only assume that the customer’s current bottle was sitting in the wrong slot when she picked it up.

Without getting into the law and applicable legislation that pertains to pricing on retail shelves, I could see that there was no clear way of dealing with this person as they were absolutely adamant that they were right. So I did the only thing I could think of to diffuse the situation and end it before my cashier broke down in tears: I pulled three quarters out of my pocket and handed it to her. When she asked me what i was doing, I responded that I was paying her back the difference in price. She was floored, and said she couldn’t take money from pocket as it should come from the till. I calmly explained that no, it shouldn’t because we don’t provide refunds because something was picked up from the wrong spot on the shelf. But since she believes her patronage pays my salary, she’s welcome to money out of my pocket.

This is only one example, and a pretty common one, of how this customer disrespected the employee. The irony is that the employee was simply doing her job, one in which the customer likely wouldn’t want to do. And what’s even more hilarious is when someone irate is making a total ass of themselves but yet still seems to consider it appropriate to DEMAND respect.

Respect is a fluid thing, and subjective to the person. Respect should be earned and never demanded, although there are instances where respect can be given depending on the situation. The important thing to remember is other people’s perspective. If you can respect someone else’s perspective, it makes it all that easier for others to respect yours. ☯

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I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

10 thoughts on “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”

  1. I’ve seen and experienced several examples along those lines over the years myself.

    Personally I follow the old martial arts adage (I’m sure you remember the posters that were available); Courtesy is given, Respect is earned. Respect in my mind being a deeper level of courtesy with possibly a recognition or trust of some knowledge, ability or at least character. Honor goes a step beyond that (as a verb).

    We live in an incredibly ignorant, ego-driven society anymore though. People demand what they haven’t earned, can’t even begin to define these terms properly, and think everything is about them. Scary times indeed.


  2. While walking through the park last week I struck up a conversation with a young woman. Some dewd came along and literally sat between us. (They didn’t seem to have any prior connection.) Anyways, he consistently interrupted by sharing things about himself that had nothing to do with the topic at hand. At first I would indulge him and then smoothly return to the former dialogue with the woman. Eventually, I just ignored him and spoke a little louder every time he tried to intrude. In some respects, I believe I was being respectful by cutting him out of the dialogue. Anyways, this story is not exactly the same as yours but it at least acknowledges and conveys that I’ve taken the time to somewhat familiarize myself with your story, and that, in my opinion, is also a kind of respect that is ESSENTIAL to building a rapport with another human being. Do you agree? How so?


    1. I think that it depends on the specifics of the story. In your instance, I feel that the male in question was exhibiting behaviours that most would consider outside the norm of social behaviour. This prompts questions… Was he suffering from some sort of mental health issue? Is he depressed due to the current pandemic and seeking human interaction? I would consider it disrespectful for a random stranger to inject themselves into a pre-existing conversation in progress, even more so due to the fact that he invited himself to sit between you. Strange behaviour, indeed…

      Respect is a fluid thing, with a different people allotting different levels of importance to it. I believe that acknowledging someone else’s work is important and CAN be a sign of respect, although perhaps not a necessary one. I think that a person who has never read my work or commented on it can still show respect to me, in a variety of different ways. On the other hand, someone who has gotten to know me and takes the time to familiarize themselves with my work is always a welcome thing. Ultimately, I believe it comes down to it being more of an honor for me than a sign of respect from the other.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed, he’s what you might call a queer hand.

        So your kind of saying that respect is largely subjective, and requires intention on the part of the person who is trying to display it…

        How about we remove ourselves away from the personal to a more objective view of respect, assuming that is possible to begin with. Notice how the word ‘respect’ is being used in the assertion below and let me know if you feel it possess any gravity to its logic:

        Values are qualities that command respect and that generate:

        ◆ Principles to guide us in our thinking and our actions;
        ◆ Standards against which we judge ourselves and others.

        Here is a short list of common values to help put things into perspective:



      2. Respect CAN be subjective. For example, you can have respect for someone whom you’ve never met and that respect is based solely on their accomplishments and the image they’ve put out into the world. I guess I would agree that ties in to some of the values you’ve listed. After all, an accomplished author who has shared their wisdom with the world will be respected by most, based on that wisdom as opposed to what any one person may or may not know personally about them.

        I believe that respect can be almost an “emotional currency,” where I can respect you, so long as you respect me and do nothing that violates my personal values, breaks any laws or brings harm to others. This would be where the subjective aspect comes in, as it would involve the individual deciding whether or not the other individual has crossed any established or undisclosed lines. Once this happens, the self-proclaimed victim may often claim they’ve been “disrespected,” even if this was not the intention of the other party. The other party may simply be living their own lives, by their own standards. So long as it brings no harm to you or others, this should not engender a loss of respect. Understanding is key.

        My post was mostly a message that there does exist a “generalized” respect in this world, where you can still decide that another individual is not living up to your standards or shares your values, and still respect them as an individual, a person and a hard worker. The world has evolved to use the term “respect” as a means of showing that they have status, and this was never its intention.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you for clarifying your stance. It all makes pretty good sense here in this moment of time. However, the only thing that seems to elude me is your reference or supposition of the ‘world’ taking on the notion of what the concept of respect means, then to assert ‘this was never its intention.’ The final statement of your prose pushes me completely off the plank of logic. What are you trying to say here? That people in general didn’t really ‘intend’ to contort the idea of respect? As though the proper idea of ‘respect’ got lost on everyone but somehow you are one of the lucky ones to realize its true nature?


      4. I make no supposition, simply sharing observations and experience as seen through my eyes. As I mentioned, respect CAN be subjective. Most people in general will maintain the ACT of being respectful in their daily lives and interactions, but there are those who will intentionally try to demand respect, thereby lacking respect for the other. It’s almost a chicken and the egg scenario…

        I don’t believe that I’m “somehow” lucky enough to realize respect’s true nature. I think many people realize and understand respect’s true nature and choose to include it in their daily lives. As I mentioned a couple of times, respect is a fluid thing. It’s often based on an individual person’s upbringing, environment, values and oftentimes faith. “My momma raised me right…” is a sentence that comes to mind. I consider myself to fall under those terms and many other people do, as well.

        I don’t know if this answers your question… Although I invite comments and open discussion, I must confess that I’m not sure where you’re going with this line of questionning?

        Liked by 1 person

      5. We appear to be missing one another’s meaning and that’s perfectly fine. Live and let live. The main thing is that you are trying to get clear as to what respect means for you, and that merits my respect.

        It’s my intention to blog about Creative Thinking tomorrow. It would be great if you could provide some general feedback on my application of this concept, should it hold any value for you of course.

        It’s a beautiful Friday evening here in St. John’s. Blues skies and sun shiny rays are making things bright and warm. All the windows are open and the wind is blowing through the house, making it ever so blissful. Not to mention my first glass of red wine tastes absolutely divine.

        Good night Shawn, I hope this Sabbath brings you much wonder and delight.


      6. Your posts remain part of my Saturday morning routine: wake up, grab coffee, read your post lol. I’ll be certain to see what comment I can bring.

        You’re fortunate for the warmth and sun… We’ve got dark clouds and rain starting, and expected through the weekend. An important part of the cycle of nature, but sure throws a wrench into outdoor activities. Have a great weekend.

        Liked by 1 person

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