While in a car with a friend and her father recently, an argument started between them and he became verbally abusive, demanding respect as her father, while at the same time calling her names. As he is a psychologist, his abusive words, action and behaviour really surprised me.
The fact is that respect does not come (nor should it) with any positions of authority and demanding it doesn't work – often, those who demand it tend to be arrogant and/or have insecurity issues. Respect must be earned. It's as simple as that.
Having been in the martial arts world for decades, I have unfortunately witnessed an abundance of arrogant and poor behaviour: instructors expecting their students to be loyal and respectful because of their position, and yet their words, actions and behaviour do not deserve respect.
So, how do you earn respect? Simple: through your words, actions and behaviour.
Choosing the right words is extremely important. The old saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" definitely has it wrong. Words can cut to the very core and be both psychologically and emotionally damaging. Address the facts and never attack someone personally. Abrasive words rarely resolve problems and ultimately lead to resentment and hurt.
Doing the right thing through your actions is powerful. Take the act of generosity for instance: Whether it's helping someone clean up or treating a friend to lunch, you don't need to ask permission – just do it.
Behaviour is the manner in which you would perform the task. Doing it with commitment and willingness will earn respect; doing it begrudgingly and poorly will not.
Getting each of these right requires a foundation of humility, integrity and generosity. Fortunately, I understood this when I became a karate instructor at the ripe old age of 15 as being much younger than all of my students, I had to work at earning their respect.
Having humility was the easiest as I was just a kid with nothing to be arrogant about and had to earn my stripes. I like to believe it is a virtue that I have maintained, although only other people can verify that.
As a teacher, I had to ensure I had integrity, knowledge and understanding, so these were the areas I focused on and continues to do so. I discovered that I am the best student when I am the teacher, as it motivates me to learn.
Generosity is all about giving, and at that time it was not difficult for me, as to earn the trust and respect of the students, I happily and willingly gave my time and shared my knowledge in order to be a good instructor.
Alice Grant has been an Elixr member since she was at school. When she was waitressing, she was at times treated poorly by customers. Alice, who is now a doctor, once said to me, "People forget that the waiters serving you now could be saving you in the future."
The lesson? Treat everyone with respect. And if you really can't be nice, at the very least, don't be nasty.
In the moment
Have you ever watched a movie or read a book where someone goes back in time and shares a special moment with their loved ones? I sometimes imagine that I have returned to the present from the future, and I consciously cherish and appreciate the moment where I'm with my loved ones. We so often take for granted the present that we can never have again, or a moment with a loved one who may not be with us in the future. It's essential to realise that the present is the good old days of the future, so remember to enjoy it.