• R-E-S-P-E-C-T

    June 11, 2017 | Jodi
  • We take classes in English, math, chemistry, physics, art, history, accounting – you name it! Who hasn’t sat through one of those classes thinking, “When am I ever going to USE this?” So why aren’t there classes in things we really need to know about? Things that are confusing, yet part of our daily lives… Like relationships? Hmmm? Does anyone wish we were required to take one of those classes?

    I would love to see Relationships: What Helps and What Hurts Them offered at the local high school. What would be on that syllabus?

    I think I would start with RESPECT. Everyone wants it, but many are unsure how to receive it.

    One place to start is by treating others with respect. We counselors know that the best way to “get” someone else to change is to BE the change we want to see in them. If I want someone else to treat me with respect, I must first treat them with respect.

    What does it mean to treat someone with respect? Here are a few key points:

    1) Ask instead of Tell – What are their preferences? How did they feel about it? What’s bothering them about something.

    2) Don’t try to fix them – or their problems. Try empathy. That means listening and trying to put yourself in their shoes. How does this feel to them? And stop trying to improve your partner. Is that your job? (See #6 below – ACCEPTANCE).

    3) Listen – REALLY listen. Stop thinking about what you’re going to say next. Are you getting the point the other person is trying to make? You don’t have to agree with them, but it is respectful to try to understand them.

    4) Avoid using shame – Blaming, calling names, using shame-filled statements like, “What were you thinking?” or “How could someone do that?”

    5) Avoid name-calling – even (or especially) in the heat of anger. Once you say it, it will never go away. Being angry is not an excuse for saying horrible things to someone.

    6) Acceptance – The other person will not be just like you. Like it or not, we all have our own way of being and doing. It is not your job to change the other person. Accept that person the way they are. If there is something that they do that really bothers you, maybe you can point it out and let them know how it feels to you when they do it. Then it is up to them whether to change that behavior or not. If you just can’t accept the behavior, then you have a choice whether to stay and learn to live with it or move on. There is no relationship rule that says a person must change to suit the other person in a relationship. No matter how cute, rich, smart or funny you are.

    7) Discuss boundaries and respect those boundaries. What’s a boundary? Let me start with electronics. This seems to come up frequently with my clients. Is it ok to have cell phones out during dinner? Is it ok to text friends when you’re in bed together? Are you both comfortable with your partner texting exes? Everybody has their own preferences about these things, and you won’t know how the other feels if you don’t talk about it. And I’ve seen these destroy relationships.

    8) Make them a priority – When you’re together, be together. It shows that they mean something to you. Are you distracted by your email, texts, work? It’s important to find a balance among all the demands in your life.