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The Importance of Respect in Relationships and in Teams

Respect is largely an expression of one’s belief in the value of others as individuals. If I respect you that means that I affirm that you are valuable in my eyes, I see you as worthwhile. In this article I want to speak about the importance of respect in relationships and, because a excellent team is built on healthy relationships, in teams.

Respect is thus clearly an essential part of healthy relationships. What we do when we respect someone is that we recognise their value and this will ultimately lay the foundation for a healthy relationship, whether professional or personal. When you disrespect someone you are really do nothing other than saying to someone “you are not valuable”, “You are not worthy.” If this is the foundation of a relationship you cannot expect the relationship to be harmonious.

Respecting others is a silent way to express our feeling for them. It’s an unspoken way of communication which builds unshaken and strong relations between people respecting each other. For any relationship to work there has to be an over-riding high regard for one another, even if there are disagreements. How can you treat someone well when you feel they are unworthy and have no value? How can you be helpful to them when you feel they have nothing to add? How can you have a high opinion of someone who views you as unworthy and value-less?

One of the issue people struggle with when it comes to respect is the idea that weak people respect to the strong and powerful, that respecting another involves viewing oneself as inferior. This is mistaken. It does not show weakness to see the value in others and respect is not about superiority and inferiority. Your ability to appreciate the value of another makes no comment on your own value.




It does however require that you can put aside thoughts of your own value for long enough to appreciate another. If you are constantly making comparisons to see how your value measures up to others, it is very difficult to truly respect another. This ability to put your own value aside actually represents a real maturity because it take real self-assurance to be able to put questions of your own value aside.

Respect is actually really about granting significance. The benefits of this in relationships are clear. Just think about a person who make you feel important and valued. Think about how you seek that person out. At a party that person will be the first person you make a bee-line to. Think about what you would be willing to do for that person. I know people like this in my life and I know that I am truly on their side because I believe that they are truly on my side. Respect is like the pixie dust for a healthy and harmonious relationship.

It is also important to remember that respect is reciprocal. When you respect someone you will recognise the value in them and you treat them in a way that tells them that you view them as important and significant. The natural response on their behalf is to respect you in return. They will feel that you really do add value to their life. You magnify what is good about them and bring out the best in them. When you do this for someone they will view you as very valuable to them and they will develop a deep respect for you.

In a work context, if you have a team of people who all respect each other the consequence of this will be an extremely effective team. At Schuitema we refer to the “stickiness” that keeps a team together and makes it work. Respect forms the heart of this this stickiness. People that respect each other will work for one another. So, if you want a productive and successful team, start by respecting each of your team members.

Assad holds a Masters in Philosophy from the University of the Witwatersrand and is currently a PhD candidate. He is the editor of the Schuitema blog and is a regular facilitator of the company's Care and Growth and Mentoring for Mastery programs. He also has 5 years experience lecturing and tutoring Philosophy at Wits.

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