During my time at Neverware I took a turn that has the director of engineering, and it really changed how I thought about the word “respect”.
Folks on the leadership team used it pretty regularly, and at some point I took issue with it. The connotation I had for respect at that point (especially in a business setting) was “deference to authority”, and it sounded to me like what was being asked for was compliance.
After some discussion and looking up the various definitions, I found one that helped me understand what people were trying to express: “due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others.”
That sentiment is actually something that I strongly agree with.
I also can see how that definition could come to be synonymous with “deference to authority” in a highly hierarchical business world: The people with the power to demand regard for their feelings and traditions are those in positions of authority.
“Due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others.”
I think there’s a lot that’s implied by that, and I think it covers a lot of what I believe about how we should live our lives. Pay attention to the people around you. Do your best to do right by them, not just “as you’d have done to you”, but as they want done to them. “Due regard for” not “perfect compliance with”, you also have to attend to your own feelings, etc.
I also think there are a couple of situations where it gets really nuanced:
- Sometimes people’s wishes or traditions conflict with each other. There’s thousands of years of writing about what to do when people want conflicting things. I won’t attempt to summarize here.
- Sometimes people’s feelings/wishes/traditions are self-destructive, even if in small ways. I think you could view this as a sub-point of people’s wishes or traditions conflicting (my kid wishes to eat Annie’s mac and cheese for every meal, I wish for her to get a variety of nutrients and to develop a taste for a variety of foods), but it’s worth mentioning separately because the connotation of conflict doesn’t normally include this kind.