So last night I happened upon this article. For the lazy, it’s a guy talking about how he began to recognise that small things which didn’t bother him bothered his wife, and how he realised too late that by ignoring the fact that they bothered her (because he didn’t *get* it), he ended up not giving her the respect she deserved.
I think it’s a nicely written piece, and it broadly expresses some feelings I have about my own relationship (though we’ve transitioned from glass-beside-the-sink to recycling-bin-unemptied, which I think may constitute progress). It also made me think about the dynamic of expecting something of someone and respecting someone for doing something.
The continuation of this post is going to come across a little spoilt, because I’m going to use some examples from my own life, so let it first be said that I appreciate my attitudes could change in these situations, and I could work to find them less frustrating. But I still think that all of these examples show a fundamental lack of respect, so I’m going to use them anyway, spoiltness be damned.
There are certain types of people who are always going to be taken for granted, and I am one of those people. I have clear facets of my personality that are asking to be abused, and I am daft enough to allow this with only minor grumbling at the end of the day. I think when you’re a person who is keen to make others happy this is pretty commonplace, but I do think that there are occasions where it goes too far, and a person can stop feeling respected and start feeling devalued.
When I was at school (and in uni, I’m sad to say), most people I spent time with in class, spent time with me because I was a hard worker. I know this, because I still talk to three people who were in my year at school. Three. And two from my degree. I always felt like I had a lot of friends because I talked to a lot of people, and had someone to sit with in every class, and it didn’t matter that those people would copy my work, or casually slide over and see if they could be in my project group. Very occasionally, the lack of actual respect for me would come through, when I’d not had time to finish an essay, or a maths question. There would be an expectation that I’d help other people, to the point where they’d be rudely frustrated if *I* hadn’t done *their* work.
Another personality aspect which people take for granted is my ability to plan. I like having a plan, because I don’t like uncertainty, because it makes me anxious. But that doesn’t mean I like *planning* per se, and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s easy. My work role requires detailed planning, and usually it’s by-the-by to change something, but on occasion it’s incredibly complex. More often than not, the person asking me to change these plans will have had ample opportunity to let me know they won’t work, and yet it is expected that I will change a planned meeting with 15 people in at the drop of a hat. Those people who do this the most frequently are those who are least appreciative of the effort which goes into the process, and that, ultimately, constitutes a lack of respect.
The last trait which I think is under-respected is enthusiasm. It is difficult for a lot of people to be enthusiastic about themselves, and I know how much I appreciate it when my friends are enthusiastic on my behalf. But when you actively encourage your friends on a consistent basis, it becomes the norm, and it becomes expected. Which is crazy, because no-one can maintain that level of enthusiasm for anything. So occasionally you drop off, and ask the wrong questions (or don’t ask any at all), or have the wrong reactions. When that illicits a negative response, that is when your friend is taking you for granted, rather than respecting how much effort you’re putting into caring about their life.
As I mentioned, I think this post comes across whiney, but after reading the article I linked at the top, I really stopped to think about what being respected as a person means. A lot of people find it difficult to value their own strengths, that that is made exceptionally difficult when it is thrust into your face that other people don’t value them either. I’m lucky that I never realised my peers were using my work-ethic, rather than respecting me more as a person for having it. If I’d realised, I might have tried less hard.
Long story short, take a step back and look at the people around you, and take a second to recognise what they do for you, and what it costs them.