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respect: a critical ingredient for community  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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I wish to hypothesize:  community living requires a certain kind of respect between everybody. 

The symptoms of a lack of respect would include lying, stealing, invasion of privacy, and ...  interrupting (I'm sure this list has to be longer).

I think interrupting is usually the first to show up. 

And if a community has a leader, or somebody generally accepted as leader-esque, that person must be be deeply offended by any display of a lack of respect or the community will begin to disintegrate. 

So .... I guess my theory:

100% respect between everybody ... any form of accidental disrespect is discouraged and compensated for (apologies, trying to make up for it, etc.) - this has the potential to be an excellent community.

99% respect:  doomed.  Once it starts, where does it stop?

So if you are in a community and you know of one person disrespecting another, and you do nothing, I think that you have just signed up for the demise of your own community.  It will, in time, fail.

....  so this is just a theory I'm trying on for size. 


 
                            
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I am surprised nobody has responded to this post. I guess I have respect on the brain today and the interrupting thing got me because sometimes I do it.

“And if a community has a leader, or somebody generally accepted as leader-esque, that person must be deeply offended by any display of a lack of respect or the community will begin to disintegrate. “

The first thought that comes to my mind is Whew! I am glad this is a “Hypothesis” and you really don’t think this way!  With all due “Respect”  …I don’t see how interrupting can be in the same sentence as lying and stealing. Those seem like miles apart to me. Lying and stealing are deal breakers in my book. And Deeply offended? Deeply offended by interruption? That sounds like a Huge freakin ego to me…of course it would have to be explained in context because sometimes there are good reasons to interrupt and other times not so much.

Yes chronic interruption would be annoying and eventually disrespectful, but I think that has more to do with the persons levels of patience and ability to hold a thought than a lack of integrity. Just my quick opinion, I have not researched it or anything.

As someone that knows almost nothing about community, I think that if people are going to coexist there has to be a great deal of flexibility. This does not sound very flexible. Respect is an interesting animal. I just posted about Respect vs. Reverence and I think those words are about degrees and depth of feeling. What is disrespectful to one could be normal to another. I would guess that what one believes is deep reverence would simply be a common respect to another.

I used to dislike being interrupted and then I had children. Now I think I caught it from them! ROFL Seriously I do find I interrupt more now than ever before in my life.

Not sure if it’s because I tend to be doing 5 things at once or just old age starting to set in because sometimes I cannot seem to hold a thought and I want to get my two cents in before it slips away. Or maybe it’s that being with children is carried over to an adult conversation? I will usually apologize on the spot and say something like. Sorry, please continue…. However that act, that could be interpreted as disrespectful in no way encroaches on my integrity.

And what about the opposite people that like to hear themselves talk to the point you need to interrupt them? Our friend Cindy is like that and although she is incredibly intelligent and has a heart the size of Montana she is seemingly oblivious of the other person wanting to speak. We have agreed that it’s okay to remind her or just butt in…or “interrupt”. Maybe I am so used to talking with her it’s become a habit for me? That is another possibility, again that has nothing to do with integrity, or lack thereof. It’s just the circumstances of my life really.

To force someone to comply with an arbitrary set of rules so the "leader" felt respected in a case like mine would be ridiculous I think. If you simply reminded me if and when I did it I could become more conscious about not doing it. It just seems like if in the vetting process a person interrupted and they were cut because of it, well I think the person cut just won big time.

Something else to consider is our age of cell phone use. I interrupt and get interrupted often while using a mobile phone simply due to the lag or choppy reception, especially up in the high country. I find I talk right over someone or they talk right over me or we try and speak the same time. Maybe that carries over to face to face conversations? Whatever it is I certainly do not think interruption leads to lying and stealing and invading people‘s privacy.
 
                            
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What the heck, I'm on a roll tonight and the fingers are a flying 

“99% respect:  doomed.  Once it starts, where does it stop? “

Yikes! that sounds really, really scary to me. Respect is such a personal thing and ego is so heavily involved with “respect”. We all have and hold so many made up mental stories (Most of which are simply not true), and opinions, and strong positionalities about…well… everything, that there is absolutely no way everyone is going to meet those personal demands. A “leader” that falls into the trap of “I need, or I deserve, or the worst…flat out demanding absolute 100 percent respect or else you are a lying, stealing worthless disrespectful scum that needs to be kicked to the curb is quickly heading for messianic megalomania and God knows what happens then. 

In my experience respect is earned. If the “leader” is not getting respect there is probably more issues at play than the “follower” being disrespectful. I have never had respect for anyone that demanded it. And I have strongly disagreed with those I hold a great deal of respect for and, especially in my younger years, the manner in which I expressed it has been…well, less than respectful.

But as a person with high integrity I always make sure to explain myself clearly and so far it always works out, and usually the other person does the same thing because as you would expect they too have a high level of integrity or I would never have looked to them as a “leader“.

I have been around a lot of people that stuff their feelings for the sake of staying “respectful” ...at least to your face (Key point IMO), and I have been around a few people that tell you what they think to the point they often sound incredibly rude in the moment. Those rude, disrespectful sob’s are my closest, most trusted friends.

The way I look at it, either the person I am speaking with has integrity and a positive outlook on life or they don’t. Either they have high intentions that they hold themselves to with a high rate of success, or they don’t. If they don’t I would not want to be around them. Personally I would much rather be alone than with people that will bring my energy down. In a successful community I would expect the vetting process would uncover this. I can see where people might try and fake integrity and you might be saying that interrupting could be a warning sign. I think there would be other indicators than that one.

People excited about life with a strong desire to help others and live a life of honesty and truth are easy to get along with. Do they interrupt sometimes? Probably, and do they lie and steal? In my experience, Never.
 
paul wheaton
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stealing vs. interrupting:  both on the "disrespect" scale, although one is much greater than the other. 

Further, I think small forms of disrespect that are not mended will grow into larger forms.  So it is important (in my obnoxious opinion (IMOO)) to not let interrupting pass. 

And more on interrupting:  perhaps it is nothing more than a personal pet peeve ....  I do think that when one person interrupts another, the unsaid message is "what I have to say is so vastly more important than what you have to say."  --- and, on the flip side, if you have respect for a person, and their words, then you hear them out.  Let them have their full say.  Uninterrupted.

As for people that have the habit of interrupting:  some people also have the habit of lying.  Or stealing.  My theory is that community cannot be built with these ingredients in the foundation. 

>> 99% respect:  doomed.  Once it starts, where does it stop?
>
> Yikes! that sounds really, really scary to me.

Well, with the 100% example, I added "accidental disrespect is discouraged and compensated for (apologies, trying to make up for it, etc.)"

What I am saying is that in order to build an effective community (and, granted, this is really nothing more that speculation/pontification), your group has to meet that top 99.9th percentile for quality of communication.  If you have 20 people together and there is disrespectful bickering between two - the whole community is gummed up.  And for any normal group, there is bound to be two people that are not a fit.  Therefore, the mission becomes:  how can we prepare for this?  How can we know that this is going to happen, but have things in place such that problems are minimized?  These two people need to express their ideas.  I think the problems don't come from difference of opinion, but from disrespect.  If the community has a strong focus from the first day to be wary of the forms of disrespect, I think the odds of being .... productive .... are much higher. 

(again speculation/pontification)

What is disrespectful to one could be normal to another


True!

And this comes back to my theories (which I know many folks object to) about one leader.  If there is one leader, then the one person defines what is cool and what is not. 

In my experience respect is earned


True.  And before coming to a community, you would want to research it.  So would you try to be part of something that did not warrant your respect?

Further, would you show at least a little respect for a complete stranger?  If you bumped into somebody, would you apologize and ask if they are okay?  Isn't this a form of respect?

Further still, if you came to community and you had respect for the community, wouldn't you think each member of the community would be an excellent candidate for your respect even if you have not yet met them?

I have been around a few people that tell you what they think to the point they often sound incredibly rude in the moment. Those rude, disrespectful sob’s are my closest, most trusted friends.


An excellent point!  And when they are rude and obnoxious to you, do you feel disrespected?  No!  In fact, that "rude" behavior is a demonstration of the depth of your bond and actually re-enforces your bond. 

However, if something happened and your relationship became delicate, I suspect that the "rude" stuff would be shelved until the relationship was mended. 

So .... my theory / pontification / thought-train-of-the-moment ... is that it would be good to make a list of forms of disrespect and recognize that any form of disrespect is damaging to the community.  Some forms are more damaging than others.  And some forms can be mended easier than others.  Small disrespect left unmended is (IMOO) a breeding ground for bigger forms of disrespect.  Which is a breeding ground for even bigger forms of disrespect.  On this cycle, a community could be dissolved (IMOO) in just hours.



 
                            
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An excellent point!  And when they are rude and obnoxious to you, do you feel disrespected?  No!  In fact, that "rude" behavior is a demonstration of the depth of your bond and actually re-enforces your bond. 

However, if something happened and your relationship became delicate, I suspect that the "rude" stuff would be shelved until the relationship was mended. 


I am going to start with this one because I think this is the most important point I can make.

Thank you for the compliment. And No actually these people did not change for me, nor do they ever change based on some circumstance. I think it is really, really important to recognize that it's not that I don' t feel disrespected because I have this close bond, it is because I personally have a certain understanding of the way things work and with that comes a flexibility that keeps me from running stories in my head that tell me those words they just used and the manner in which they used them is "Rude" and "isrespectful".

Also I am not saying that these folks don’t have the ability to be loving, I am just saying they are authentic all the time. I never get the feeling they are “puttin on a show” or “picking it up in public” they are what and who they are and they are comfortable with who they are. I think the world calls that high self worth or high self esteem, I call it high integrity because to me that is the end result.

If you respect yourself to a high level then you will automatically want to continue to be the best you can be and anything less than complete integrity becomes painful. So when I say high level of integrity I am also meaning high self respect, self worth or self esteem.

When I first met these people they were exactly the same as they are now. I could have easily felt disrespected and now that I think about it, none of these people have all that many friends…because a lot of people think they are disrespectful.

Most people take everything personally when in reality it has nothing whatsoever to do with them. I think that would be a very important quality of a leader to recognize that and determine if the person is just way down on the scale of consciousness and constantly engaged in guilt, shame, fear, anger, etc. or if they are just expressing themselves in a way that they developed from their life experience and is comfortable and authentic for them.

Either way it really has nothing to do with anyone but them. You can choose to be around it or not. It's also good to remember that like attracks like. By you saying they are being disrespectful towards you, you are really saying that you are not able to see it any other way.

The ego and all the wonderful ways it has worked to keep us safe since the beginning of protoplasm is also disecting every word spoken and all the body language to find out if we are being attacked or not.

To realize what the ego is and the stories it develops constantly would be a rare, but huge bonus in a leader. Otherwise all these things become put-downs and negative, instead of positive and perfect just the way they are.

The main thing I looked at with these new found friends was Integrity. Strong and motivated, intelligent with a great sense of humor were bonuses that I discovered a little later. I  never tried to change these guys, I never tried to mold them to my liking, not even a little bit and we have always gotten along great. We don’t dance around our quirks like say my interrupting and their arguable rudeness…we just sing right through whatever it is and keep moving forward laughing and having as much fun as we can!

Let me see if I can wrap this all up into something comprehendible, or not; First lets assume you have chosen people that have evolved to a level where they are no longer struggling. They have done the internal work and come to a place where they understand certain aspects of life, they have made a lot of good choices and they have high self esteem and high integrity. Second, don’t think I don’t realize that I might sound like I have lost my marbles to some people, but this is where I am at right now and I think I am correct in my thinking here. LOL

Okay, remembering the choice we made when we picked the people we want to be around, I believe that when you let go of your need to control others and you have deep respect for those people they will rise to the occasion. So that brings me to the most important point. You must be the best you can be and do the work necessary to be a true leader. You will only be able to attract that which is the same or lower than yourself. I doubt anyone with freedom of choice would choose to be led and controlled by someone with a lower level of consciousness than themselves.

Otherwise you will need to set limits and controls and boundaries that nobody can cross otherwise they are punished. This is something I can talk about with confidence because it’s basically the same idea in parenting. The standard model of parenting simply does not work very well, all the statistic prove it. I don’t think people realize how much they want to mold others into their liking, especially children. That to me is incredibly disrespectful. I have traveled the country and met the most balanced teenagers and young adults you could ever imagine and they were all raised with the above philosophy. It works, and when the world realizes it…and I think that time is fast approaching, it will be a much better place.

 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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When I gave my presentation on critter care a couple of days ago, here is one of my slides:

circle of life

where there is a plethora of life, there must also be a plethora of death

respectful harvest

ultimate respect for a harvester who has done a good job


During the presentation I said that this is the one slide where I don't allow comments or questions.  It is for me to project my opinion only.

I also mentioned how I wonder how the last bit might tie into native american cultures.  I would think a respectful harvest done well would call for great strength of character.  So, would that person earn greater respect?

With any collection of people, some have greater respect than others.  If we embrace and nurture that idea, don't we end up with a system where people try to do what is good and right and decent?  Where people try to earn the respect of their peers? 

And the flip side:  if we have a system where everybody is equal, no matter what, do people try to do that which earns the respect of others?

I feel this is a rich and complicated space worth the attempt to better understand.

 
Max Kennedy
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What constitutes respect?  In some cultures it is conformity, eg asia, in others individuality, eg western culture.  I think it is essential to recognise respect as a 2 way street.  For example interrupting, is it disrespectful to interrupt someone who doesn't give others an equal opportunity to voice their opinions or is it disrespectful to not give others an opportunity to be heard.  Like many things it is probably the extremes that are on the wrong side of the fence.  Respect is the single most important thing in society and the thing that is most lacking.  Our culture is so focused on "me first", "my rights" that the consideration of others, respect or responsibility if you will, is virtually lost.  I must disagree that 100% respect is necessary for a group/culture to survive.  Unlike a sweater that will inevitably unravel due to 1 broken strand we are speaking of a system that can be repaired.  The key is having limits that are fair, known to all and that all have an equal input into.  The limits also need to be dynamic in that cultures evolve and new members need to have the opportunity to have input.  I would put forward that predicating a system on an absolute, eg 100% respect, is absolutely disrespectful as it allows for no disagreement on what constitutes respect.  As an absolute it is also a guarantee of failure, no human system can meet that kind of criteria.  Having said this respect is paramount in a society where people work together.  Our lack of respect is at the root of the ills of society and indeed of the planet.  Removing mountaintops to get at coal and dumping the "waste" into stream valleys, fishing species into extinction, poisoning rivers to mine gold, denying our effect on global warming etc are the epitome of disrespect.  I agree with much of the spirit of what you say Paul but disagree on some of the details.
 
paul wheaton
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I like the bit about the sweater.  That is a very good point.  The fabric of our lives needs to be something mendable - not fragile. 

At the same time, I think it is wise to understand what disrespect looks like, and to recognize it when it pops up.  And to embrace that the smallest disrespect, if ignored, will be slightly larger later.  And repeat this over and over until things are really awful.

Merely a hypothesis.

 
Max Kennedy
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paul wheaton wrote:
At the same time, I think it is wise to understand what disrespect looks like, and to recognize it when it pops up.  And to embrace that the smallest disrespect, if ignored, will be slightly larger later.  And repeat this over and over until things are really awful.


Recognizing and addressing disrespect when it occurs is something I can agree with.  But flexibility in defining disrespect is also necessary.  For example I teach many native youth.  Initially they will not look you in the eye.  In their culture that would be disrespecting and challenging an elder.  In our culture the lack of eye contact can be seen as being sneaky, furtive and disrespectful.  It is the same action but the interpretation is diametrically opposite.  Actions with the intention of being disrespectful need to be addressed but remember there is always at least 2 points of view.  Is the disrespect earned in part or in whole, perhaps through negligence or ignorance, is it completely unwarranted, are the parties aware of the social limits etc.  As the old maxim states you reap what you sow.  The prevalence of disrespect in today's society I lay at the door of parents who don't set and keep limits and apologists who make excuses for inappropriate behaviour, oh they come from a poor family, oh they have Oppositional Defiant Disorder or ADD etc.  Each of us faces challenges, they are not excuses for not being responsible for our behaviour.  If a disorder makes one incapable of being responsible that person has no business being in society as their rights do not supersede those of others to safety and respect.  Teaching in a secure detention youth facility I am exposed to a great many apologists, it is a pet peeve of mine, and their attitude usually changes only after they themselves have been victimized by someone they have been apologizing for. 
 
                                      
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i cant resist adding something.
first of all i agree respect is vital. But also i question how respect or disrespect manifest themselves.

With any collection of people, some have greater respect than others.


paul, in this context i cant help thinking: 'greater respect' or 'are better at controlling themselves'? is it really always out of lack of respect that people interrupt, or can it also be out of excitement or other positive emotions.

and alike with children who still have to learn a lot about controlling themselves, there are a number of reasons why you could chose to be flexible about others interrupting.

sometimes respect means that you let people say their thing, sometimes it means controlling yourself because you are dominating the conversation which forces others to interrupt you.

in any case i think it means taking care of each others shortcomings, and realizing everybody has them, but (mostly) doesn't notice yourself.

if u asume that others are being flexible about your shortcomings, it's easier being flexible about other's.

I like the flexibility thing. cos i really think its also vital.
 
paul wheaton
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I think I am not saying to be perpetually militant.  I think I am saying "be wary".  Or, perhaps, more accurately, if I share this with you all, and you all are conscious of it, and think there is some merit to it, and you pass these ideas on, then perhaps our whole culture will become slightly more respectful.  And, hopefully, in time, we will all reap the rewards.





 
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