All I Want Is A Little RESPECT

All I want is a little respect - Cheryl Woolstone Counselling Blog

Listen to Aretha Franklin

She captured the essence of what we are all looking for in our relationships – respect.

We use this word a lot. What does it really mean? How is a respectful relationship created?

In the first couples session I used to ask  “What needs to change in your relationship?”

Most couples would answer with some version of “I want to be respected”. The answer focuses on how you want the other person to change and how you want to be treated. It is rare to hear a partner say, “I need to learn how to be more respectful”.

I started to change my approach and ask each partner to self-reflect and finish this sentence, “The most difficult thing about being in relationship with me is …” The personal insight that followed promoted accountability, personal responsibility and self awareness.

It is amazing to see the way that couples are drawn to each other when there is acknowledgment of how they impact their partner. For a couple that is disconnected or locked in a power struggle this experience marks the beginning of the re-emergence of hope.

Aretha taught us how to spell it. Time to start living it!

Here are some thoughts …

Reflect. Listen carefully when your partner gives you feedback about what it is like to be in relationship with you. Take this very seriously. Chances are you have heard these complaints from other people in your life. Most of these chronic complaints have a basis in reality and are areas that you need to change in order to grow and deepen. All it takes is a genuine desire to learn something about yourself.

Engage. Surprise your partner in the middle of that next fight that has that same predictable beginning, middle and ending. The way to do this is to say out loud: “What am I doing that isn’t working?” This will eliminate finger pointing, blame and accusations. Conflict cannot survive without your participation. You may need to go first!

Shared responsibility. Respect means looking at your contribution to the difficulties in the relationship. Always start there. Blame is a neat little device that you can use whenever you do not want to take responsibility for your life. Use it and you will avoid all the risks and impede your growth.

A climate of generosity and trust is created when you are willing to own up to your defensiveness. Every relationship is co-created. Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?

Praise. For every negative interaction there must be 5 positive interactions. Every exchange creates distance or connection. Perhaps your intention is to create distance and inflict hurt. It is a stretch to always be loving and generous. Be honest with yourself, own up to the ways that you rupture the connection. Only then is change possible.

Empathize. You can’t walk in another person’s shoes if yours are still on. The ability to imagine what another person might be feeling is a skill that deeply impacts a relationship. You can turn any prickly moment around by suspending your world view and immersing yourself in the experience of the other.

Change. Be willing to make the changes necessary to let your partner know that you take their frustrations with you seriously. This is your growth stretch. Become the partner of their dreams. The goal of relationship is to be the right partner not to find the right partner.

Tolerate. Appreciate and tolerate difference. There are two people in a relationship and they are not both you. A deep curiosity in another person’s perspective is a surefire way to eliminate reactivity. You can relax because the point is not to change the other person’s way of looking at the world to suit your own.

Experiment with some of these ideas. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Go first! Experience the difference.

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This entry was posted on Monday, July 13th, 2009 at 3:28 AM and is filed under IMAGO and Relationships. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “All I Want Is A Little RESPECT”

  1. Jacob Bradley Says:

    February 4th, 2010 at 5:51 AM

    Nice blog, keep up the good work and thank you for sharing. 🙂

  2. Amy Says:

    June 6th, 2010 at 7:48 AM

    I am always searching for new articles in the world wide web about this issue. Thanx!!

  3. Johnny Cicione Says:

    July 7th, 2010 at 11:47 AM

    A good post indeed! That’s the sunny side of your writing, you write in a lucid manner and I have no difficulty to understand what you have said, even though I am a novice. Keep the good work going by continue blogging new and entertaining posts. I have already subscribed to the RSS feed of your weblog and look forward to reading more of your blog posts in the future.

  4. cheryl Says:

    July 7th, 2010 at 11:14 PM

    Thanks Johnny. Your comment is a motivator to keep on blogging. Cheryl

  5. cheryl Says:

    July 27th, 2010 at 10:39 PM

    Thanks! Your comment keeps me motivated to continue blogging.

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