me kay cooke

The Matter Of Respect

Did you know we each have an inbuilt ‘respect-o-meter’ inside our minds? It’s a filter that measures and monitors how we deal with the matter of respect.

My professional ‘respect-o-meter’ red flags whenever I hear the notion of ‘respect/disrespect’ connected to someone’s unhappiness.


Taking a cursory glance at dictionary definitions of the words respect and disrespect, we can see them being used as both nouns and verbs.


Respect: Admiration for qualities, skills, achievements, and regard for the thing or person’s wishes or rights.


Disrespect: No admiration for qualities, skills, achievements, and no regard for the thing or person’s wishes or rights.


That seems pretty fair and clear doesn’t it?


How do you ‘do’ respect?

For me, I am aware that I deeply respect some things and many people; I also disrespect other things and certain people. Of course they do not need to know my perspective since it’s mine, from me, for me, by me.


Yet so often we hear people complaining about the issue of respect as if ‘respect’ is a commodity to trade with:

“Show me respect”

“You should respect me/him/her/it”

“S/he is so disrespectful”

“I deserve more respect”


In order for these statements to even make sense we have to assume we know what is meant about the commodity being traded i.e. what is meant by that person when they discuss ‘respect’.


NLP teaches us good quality detective work (Meta Model) to move from our assumption (that we know what someone means) to clarity of meaning.


Typical questions I hold in my mind as I seek to understand:


  • What is this person’s measurement of giving and receiving ‘respect/disrespect’?
  • Do they believe it’s possible to earn ‘respect/disrespect’?
  • When and where might ‘respect’ be expected or even demanded?
  • How is it possible for them to be offended by a lack of respect from another source?
  • How is their self-respect altered by incoming or outgoing respect?
  • Why is there a difference between the noun (have respect) and the verb (respecting)?



NLP begins with a well-formed goal because one person can only have rules and ambitions for themselves. Trying to force respect is asking someone to act differently, without negotiation, which is not only trespass and conflict inducing; it’s also quite disrespectful!






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