5 Ways To Get The Respect You Deserve

“Hey Ollin, my biggest challenge right now is that my friends/family/etc. don’t respect my passion. What should I do about this?”

One of comedian Rodney Dangerfield’s most famous stand-up bits was the one in which he would begin his monologue by telling the audience “I get no respect.” After he would say this line, he would proceed to prove this by sharing a story in which he was clearly not respected by others.

This story of disrespect, instead of making the audience feel sad for him, would make the audience laugh out loud.

Why was that?

The audience would laugh at Dangerfield because his joke would hit a chord with them: Dangerfield was able to touch upon a real, raw aspect of the human experience.

You see, each and every one of us, no matter our background, has had a moment in which we have felt disrespected by others. Many of us have experienced first-hand the absurd and shocking ways in which other people disrespect us. Sometimes these acts of disrespect are so absurd and shocking that they make us wanna laugh at the irony of it all.

This is why Dangerfield was a comedic genius: he knew that no human being ever escaped being disrespected, and so he knew that no matter who his audience was, his “no respect” jokes would land every time. Even if the audience had not gone through the exact same experience as Dangerfield did, they would still laugh at his jokes because they knew what it felt like to be disrespected.

Why We Disrespect Each Other

Some people disrespect us because they want to be mean. For some reason or another, they don’t like us and so they’d rather demonstrate this distaste for us by doing something that they think will rile us up: like disrespecting us.

When you encounter this type of person, then it is best to simply leave them. This individual is clearly poisonous and is only going to do you harm.

However, there are times when people disrespect us unintentionally. This type of disrespect is often the result of a misunderstanding or a miscommunication.

We do not like to admit this but, often times, we do not know how to properly treat each other. (This is especially true in a world in which regions, cultures, generations, and traditions are all clashing and intermingling–often at a rapid pace and at a global scale.) What complicates things even further is modern technology, which often makes it hard for all of us to ascertain people’s true intentions.

Sometimes, what one perceives as a compliment, another perceives as an insult. What one perceives as a term of endearment, another perceives as an offense. What one perceives as an act of generosity, another perceives as an act of condescension.

So, how are we to know how to respect each another unless we show each other how to respect each other?

When All You Want Is Just A Little Respect

As I write about respect, I’m reminded of Aretha Franklin’s famous song, Respect, a song which is basically an exercise in what I’m trying to teach you here.

If you actually read the lyrics of that famous song, you realize that the song is simply about Franklin asking her new lover to respect her. In the song, she is telling this man why she should be respected and how she should be respected.

Aretha says that she plans on giving her new lover all of her “money.” Which means she plans on supporting the both of them. This statement of hers illustrates why she should be respected by her lover: she is supporting him. She also implies that she is not going to cheat on him (“I ain’t gonna do you wrong”) and implies that she expects him to do the same for her. Being committed to the relationship is how he will show her respect.

Then Aretha tells him: “find out what [respect] means to me.” She makes it clear that her lover needs to make an effort to understand her point of view, otherwise the relationship isn’t going to work out.

Finally, near the end of the song, Aretha explains what will happen to her lover if he doesn’t show her the respect she deserves: she is going to leave him.

How To Get Respect You Deserve

Okay, now that we’ve reviewed Aretha’s song, we can see The Diva has given us some clear guidelines on how we can avoid misunderstanding and miscommunication when it comes to showing people how to respect us.

So, why don’t we put the lessons we learned from both Aretha Franklin and Rodney Dangerfield together in one nice list of  “respect” guidelines:

1. We must understand that there will be plenty of people who are going to disrespect us.

But just because people will disrespect us, it doesn’t mean that this is a good enough reason to stop pursuing our passion. (It is good to note that Dangerfield’s success didn’t come until much later in his life. This shows us that Dangerfield kept going, despite never getting any respect from anyone.)

2. We can laugh it off and then turn the negative into a positive.

Dangerfield took the experience of being constantly disrespected and turned it into one of the most popular bits in comedy history. He took a negative and turned it into a positive–and then he laughed it off all the way to the bank.

3. Let people know why and how you should be respected

Have you made it clear to others why they should respect your passion? Have you made it clear to them how they should respect your passion? Do they know that they are disrespecting your passion in the first place? Have you brought this issue up with them? (I know that you may believe that the way to show you respect should always be obvious and clear to the other party but, unfortunately, sometimes it is not always clear. There are gender gaps, generation gaps, regional gaps, and cultural gaps that make it hard to know what constitutes respect and what constitutes disrespect given any type of situation. Do not automatically assume someone is disrespecting you out of meanness. They may just have a blind spot that you can help fix by expressing how and why you should be respected.)

4. Others need to put in some effort in order to understand your point of view. (Otherwise, the relationship is not going to work.)

In order to gain another person’s respect, the other person needs to be willing to put in some effort in order to understand why it’s so important that they respect your passion. If they are not willing to put in this effort, they may never be willing, and so this relationship might need to end.

5. Make it clear what the consequences will be should the other party fail to respect you.

Let the disrespecting person know that they must learn how to respect you, or you are going to end the relationship.

Here’s the way I look at it: your passion is fundamental to who you are, so if they do not respect your passion, then I cannot see how they can possibly respect you, too. Since you will be engaging in your passion for the rest of your life, your passion will consistently serve as a point of conflict and friction between you and this person and will cause a lot of drama. Unless you love constant drama in your lie, you might consider leaving this relationship.

Personally, I have never stayed in a relationship in which the other party did not respect me. If I thought the person disrespected me, but didn’t intend to, I would give the other party a second chance. I would explain to them why I thought I was being disrespected and I would tell the other party how I wanted them to show me respect. But if I saw that the other party didn’t change–even after I told them why and how they should respect me–then I would leave the relationship. I know, ending a relationship isn’t easy: it can be awfully painful. But if you want to make sure you are respected, you have to do it. Otherwise, you can be sure that as long as you stay in that relationship, you will never get the respect you deserve.

much respect,


How do you make sure that you (or your passion) are being respected? Please share your wisdom with us in the comments below!

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15 comments on “5 Ways To Get The Respect You Deserve

  1. Wonderful post, Ollin! I believe that if you don’t respect yourself first, you cannot respect others. It starts with the self, and from there ripples out. This is when – deciding to leave a relationship – you have to weigh the matters carefully, then do what’s best for you. Kudos and blessings.

    • Ollin says:

      Great point, sharon! Thanks for bringing that up. You’re right, that’s an important first step toward getting the respect you deserve: self-respect and like we discussed on Monday, self-appreciation.

  2. vyvacious says:

    This post hit a chord with me as I’m sure it did to everyone else who read this!

    I think this post is great when it comes to dealing with getting the respect you deserve from outside parties like a lover, friends, coworkers… but what about when that disrespect comes from your family? What do you do then? Ultimatums are difficult to propose, let alone act on.

    I think that in some ways, members of family do respect me…secretly. However, in their outwardly actions to me, they still may not respect my opinion or the fact that I’m a successful adult. I feel as if oftentimes, I get shown less respect than my male cousin who’s 10 years younger than me. In those cases, I feel as if it’s a cultural hindrance and to be honest, I’m not sure how to dispel them of those notions despite my many efforts.

    Any suggestions? Thanks for your post by the way. Very thought provoking 🙂

    • Ollin says:

      If you haven’t already, I recommend that you read this post I wrote a while back

      6 Strategies To Help Get Your Family On Board With Your Passion: http://wp.me/sPq2W-family

      One thing I want to be clear about is this:

      Love without respect is not real love. I repeat: love without respect is not real love.

      I am not of the belief that just because someone is blood related that they automatically recieve my love and respect. They must earn this love and respect just like everyone else. This may seem like a radical I idea, maybe it is, but I learned this lesson the hard way.

      I suppose if you feel like you really can’t avoid this person (although I would say it is okay to let this family member know that they are disrespectful of you and that is why you have chosen to end the relationship)–but if you feel you can’t avoid this individual then I recommend you do something similiar to what I recommended in the post Iinked to above:

      Every time they show you disrespect, repeat clearly and deliberatley that they are showing you disrespect. Explain why it is disrespectful, tell them how to show you respect, and you might even demonstrate this to them by showing your respect to anther familly who does respect you.

      This is the best you can do.

      If you repeat this enough times, the individual who disrespects you might decide to avoid doing so out of annoyance, because they know what you are going to say in response to their behavior and they don’t want to hear it again.

      The problem you might encounter, however, is that although they might not overtly show you disrespect, they may continue to lack disrespect for you. This is because, by staying in the relationship after you have been disrespected continually, you are being complacent in their behavior–you are ENABLING them to disrespect you.

      If you leave the relationship you show them that there are real life consequences to disrespecting another human being, and they will think twice about disrespecting another person the next time around. HOWEVER, if you stick with the relationship YOU ARE TEACHING THEM THAT IT IS OKAY TO DISRESPECT OTHERS BECAUSE NO CONSEQUENCES RESULT OF THEIR BAD BEHAVIOR.

      Sorry to go all caps on you, but it is important. I learned this the hard way. If you done everything you can to make it clear to them why and how they should respect you, and you’ve repeated this over and over again with no reaction from them, or change, LEAVE the relationship. It doesn’t matter if it’s blood. Love without respect is no love at all.

      • vyvacious says:

        I just read it. Thanks for the yet another inspiring post.

        I completely agree with you. I tell my intermediate family time and time again that blood ties do not make families…effort, respect, and love do. I don’t believe in just handing out respect to the old, young, distant stranger, or family member, I do wholeheartedly believe it’s something to be earned, just as I should earn the same respect from everyone else. I think this is a really hard concept for some people who aren’t born and raised in America though as in some Asian cultures, you MUST respect your elders…and women are often considered lower than men. Luckily my family isn’t THAT bad, but sometimes I can sense that slight pushback that shows me that some of them still think that way to some extent.

        Thanks again for your insight. It’ll definitely be something for me to dwell upon. I would love to be able to patch together a relationship that only allows me to be available to them so long as they respect me. I’ll let you know how it pans out 🙂

  3. Excellent post on respect and why we do deserve it. And what to do when we encounter disrespect. Your response to vyvacious was impassioned and very helpful with regards to family. I have the same opinion you do – blood ties do not determine who I love and respect, and when a return on that love and respect is not forthcoming then consequences must follow. It is possible to leave a relationship with a relative; in fact, sometimes it is highly recommended, for your health in all its aspects. This is so true – “Love without respect is not real love.” Thank you for the reminder! I’ve been through a lot of this already and that’s why I share your opinion about blood ties. Thanks again for a thoughtful post, Ollin. -Dana

  4. Athena says:

    One of the things I learned recently is; how sharing my enthusiasm for my passions is counter-productive except in exceptional circumstances. If I put out my energy to the ones I love but they cannot go there with me, I feel as if I gave them my energy and depleted myself in this action, whereas if I had shared with one who has the same passions there would have been an equality of energy and enthusiasm for each to benefit from. I need to respect my friends and family by both appreciating their passions and keeping mine under wraps until they ask, and by sharing mine judiciously. I knew the theory of this before but clearly hadn’t had such a lucid experience. It was a great lesson in selective sharing.
    What is respect? I maintain that if I can live in my own absolute authenticity/appreciation; the opinions of others do not have an effect on me. Other peoples’ opinions are their own not mine.
    Another question I must ask myself is; am I absolutely certain that they do not appreciate me, or is this a story I have created in my mind?
    What exactly is it that I expect from these people? Am I looking for their passion to bolster my own? Does their behavior cause me to doubt myself? Does having their respect mean I could feel better about myself or more passionate about my passions? Is there something they should know that I want from them, so that I don’t have to ask?
    Is it my desire for them to see me as I see myself?
    Contemplating the opinion I hold unconsciously of myself, I must ask myself just what it is I am reflecting to them. Could it be that a I have a lack of certainty of my own passion and worthiness, and that I am therefore giving them that message, the message which they are mirroring back to me?
    Perhaps it would be helpful if I would share with them my needs, hopes, expectations, fears and doubts fearlessly, in a compassionate manner. I could treat them as I wish to be treated.
    The truth is that it is my job to teach them how I want to be treated by doing it myself, and to understand that it is their choice as to how they respond.
    If I give them a break and find ways to respect each one of them individually (and I know how hard that is) I find that slowly the balance shifts, or doesn’t, and that it is not my job to ‘flog dead horses’
    They will always see me as you see myself.
    “Only when you are unconcerned with the outcome of your actions can you participate fully”

    • Ollin says:

      These are all GREAT questions Athena, I encourage you to explore these questions on your own blog. Write a blog post about it! Seriously, I would be curious to read your conclusions on these things since that is something I am sure I and my readers ponder as well. When you’re done with your blog post let us know so we can check it out! Thanks for the comment and welcome to the C2C!

    • Athena says:

      Thanks Ollin.
      your encouragement means a lot to me,
      Regards, Athena

  5. RD Meyer says:

    Most people, including family members, will pat you on the head for your passion and say something like, “Isn’t that cute,” while never expecting you to make it. I think part of it is that since they don’t understand your passion, they can’t see it succeeding. So you have to make them believe, and you do that through persistence and success. Then one day they’ll turn around and say, “Wow, I never thought this would take off” – that’s when I’ve really made it. 😛

    • Ollin says:

      In my experience if you explain why and how they should respect your passion, they come around to respecting you. However, they still might not understand you. I’ll be talking about the point of love without understanding on monday.

  6. Great post as usual Olin. And I agree, that both Dangerfield & Franklin, must’ve been greatly schooled in the worldly arena of disrespect to have vented thru their artistic gifts, on a subject that must’ve touched them both. Comedy in my opinion, is the flower to the bitter root of pain. Such a positive way to get out one’s feelings when being hurt. I particularily love the fact that Aretha, breaks it down, spelling it out for the man, as if to say. “So there’s no confusion, let me say it slow, and precise! Respect is such a good topic Olin, not only for those who swim in our circle, the artistic pool, but for anyone and everyone out there. I would love to take your post and hang it on the wall of every school. Perhaps open the eyes of a few and help some of them not only consider the words, but actually apply them. There’s so much going on now, with bullying, and young people showing no respect to each other. Thinking nothing of hurting one another with cruel words and viscious attacks. Perhaps, our youth need to remember, that when their dishing out their daily dose of abuse on each other. For the person suffering, it can be the cruelist form of psychological human torture and eat at the very fabric which holds ones sanity in place. I just read another article yesterday a fourteen year old girl, comitted suicide, because of bullying. Her mother said, that she had spent seven weeks, being tore down by her school mates who spent not only the time at school tormenting her, but then would spend hours networking their viscious abuse and disrespect of this poor girl.
    I was more than one hundred and twenty pounds over weight when I was in my early twenties. At the time, I was working for my dad’s construction company and could remember going to the supply house to place orders for the materials. The men who worked there, would mimic me holding their arms out and waddling, then making the sound of a cow as I walked in. It took me close to a year and a half, but I lost 135 pounds, and got down to a size six. Shortly after. As the weight began to fall off, so did the slurs, and nasty jokes at my expense. Next came what I like to call, “Three Stooges Act.” Each one running around, trying to fill my order and talking so sweetly to me as if honey was rolling off their lips. It gave me all to great a pleasure, to tell several of them who worked up the courage to ask me out, that I would rather kiss a bulldogs butt then to have anything to do with someone so cruel and shallow. I agree with Miss Sharonledwith: One must first learn to respect themselves before they can find respect from others. Self Respect is highly under rated, and can be a powerful tool. Perhaps…like Aretha, we need to take the time to spell that baby out, not only to others but to ourselves as well, reminding us, of why we should be respecting ourselves first! I only pray, many of our youths, can get a hold of such words of wisdom, as yours, and use them, as tools to apply to their hearts and minds and hold onto them. Great Post!

    • Ollin says:

      What an awesome story, Inion. I hope you share it, or have shared it, with your readers. It was very inspiring. I love it when karma works out like that. Ha! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, we appreciate it!

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