Always have the courage to speak up, if and when something is important enough not to be kept quiet about. Direct confrontation is often better than sweeping challenges under a rug. Just make sure to prepare well: all communication is negotiation. The better you are at negotiating, the easier it gets to communicate and to make progress towards a common goal. If someone is blocking communication and ignoring you there is very little you can do except for focusing upon yourself and your goals. Walking away from a specific situation is sometimes the best thing you can do. When someone disrespects you, the problematic behavior starts with them. Do not give in to people who manipulate.
If your counterpart is unable to rise up to a respectful way of communication, cut ties. They will come back once they have grown up to be able to communicate respectfully and if not, count your blessings. You do not need disrespectful or manipulative people in your inner circle, or around you at all for that matter. Although it is a fact that social interactions take place everywhere, and you will always encounter different types of people with different kinds of personalities.
Quite frankly, respect in itself does NOT have to be earned. Of course, an individual can be respected for her/his specific achievements, qualifications or position in life. We can respect the elderly for their life experiences and a hopefully grown wisdom during their lengthy lives. Respect is often culturally related, or tied to organizational hierarchies although it may, in fact, be a threat to democracy if someone is being respected only for their position. Position in itself should not alone be tied to respect. In democracies, people in positions of authority MUST be approachable and we must at all times have the opportunity to question things of importance. The ME TOO-movement that led to thousands of girls and women (and, some men too!) to finally speaking up about for instance occurred discrimination and sexual harassment is a good example of how common disrespectful behavior is even in (Western) democracies.
Every human being deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their material status or position in life.
Showing respect only to people with influence or those with high social status is endangering both our personal development as human beings, as well as a democratic society where everyone should have an equal voice, and an equal right to express an opinion without fear of various threats. This is a topic that can and should be discussed from many different angles and with many different perspectives. We know that restriction in terms of freedom of speech and having to fear expressing your opinions are in fact commonly violated human rights in most parts of the world.
In interpersonal relationships, a lack of respect usually includes behaviors whereby one individual constantly breaks or pushes another person´s boundaries. This can relate to the fact that the individual in general is unaware of what is respectful behavior and what is not, a complete lack of awareness and a high amount of ignorance for the well-being of other human beings, or quite frankly the fact that certain types of personalities actually do enjoy to push and to break boundaries on purpose just to see how far they can get with their manipulative behavior. This is unfortunately not something that only children do. Many adults, unless taught how to behave and kept in place through consistent discipline and self-management, are experts at breaking and pushing boundaries. Such behaviors must never be tolerated.
Disrespectful behavior and a disregard for, or a violation of, another individual´s boundaries can be identified through the following examples:
- Poor interpersonal communication and/or a complete ignorance of someone else´s needs or wants.
- Self-centeredness and one-sided relationships. A lack of interest in other human beings. (Only seeing oneself).
- Poor or non-existing listening skills. Many people are unfortunately poor listeners. They have a constant need to express their opinions and make themselves heard without ever hearing what other people have to say.
- Not responding. Not responding to e-mails, texts, or phone calls. Not calling back. If someone does this to you, leave them alone.
- Putting words in someone else´s mouth. Thinking you know what is best for them. Making decisions for other people without asking them or caring about their opinion.
- Belittling or minimizing someone else´s accomplishments or experiences.
- Gaslighting behavior.
- Pretending to be stupid or asking you to behave in their preferred way (remember that you are an individual, not an extension of anyone else! Nor are you anyone´s puppy or slave.
- Bullying, gossiping and spreading rumours. You can be certain of the fact that people who gossip about other people to you are also doing this behind your back.
- General manipulative behaviors, such as sugar coating the truth or lying (to your face), constantly making fun of you – especially about sensitive matters that they know are of importance to you, cynical comments and sarcasm directed at you, and at your expense. If you speak up about these, they come up with explanations and accuse you of being overly sensitive or that you are imagining things (gaslighting).
Many disrespectful and manipulative behaviors and tactics can be so subtle and slowly creep into any relationship that we fail to take action or notice the red flags. The better you know what is appropriate and what is inappropriate behavior and communication, the faster can you take action and terminate unwanted behaviors or even the whole relationship.
Unfortunately, you cannot force people to respect you but you can refuse to be disrespected!
Knowing your boundaries and not giving your power away to other people is the best way to stay intact from toxic or manipulative behavior. Self-respect and knowing one´s worth as a human being are the easiest and fastest ways of earning other people´s respect too. Confident people know how to say no. Confident people are assertive. Confident people speak up. Confident people know their truth. Confident people do not get swayed easily, although they know how to bend and stay flexible if appropriate.
Be confident. Be assertive. Be strong.