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File:Silence and Respect.jpg

A sign commanding silence and respect at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia

. (Author: David Bjorgen)]]

Respect is a positive feeling of esteem or deference for a person or other entity (such as a nation or a religion), and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem. Respect can be a specific feeling of regard for the actual qualities of the one respected (e.g., "I have great respect for her judgment"). It can also be conduct in accord with a specific ethic of respect. Rude conduct is usually considered to indicate a lack of respect, disrespect, where as actions that honor somebody or something indicate respect. Specific ethics of respect are of fundamental importance to various cultures. Respect for tradition and legitimate authority is identified by Jonathan Haidt, a professor at the New York University Stern School of Business, as one of five fundamental moral values shared to a greater or lesser degree by different societies and individuals.[1]

Respect is both given and received. We expect other people to respect us in return for the respect we show them. Respect is also something that is earned by the standards of the particular society in which one lives. Respect cannot be measured as a quantity, cannot be bought or traded, it is one of those things that is earned and built over time, but that can be lost with one stupid or inconsiderate act. One can ask or beg for respect, but only others can bestow us with respect as a result of their perceived treatment by us. Continued caring interactions are then required to maintain or increase that original earned respect. Respect cannot always be seen or observed by actions, but for those who practice chivalry, the outward display of respect is refreshing. Some women view this as patronizing and demeaning, but in its pure form chivalry is about nearly absolute respect.

Respect should not be confused with tolerance, since tolerance doesn't necessarily imply subordination to one's qualities but means treating as equal.

The antonym and opposite of respect is disrespect.

Self Respect

Self Respect or self esteem is an important part of one's emotional well-being, if a person has no respect when one stands and looks in the mirror, one's has little else of import. Self-respect cannot be there if one is not sincere and caring in their daily deeds, each human has only himself to blame if his own being cannot find reasons for self-worth.

Fredrick Douglass once said; “I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.”[2]

Cardinal De Retz said; “A man who doesn't trust himself can never really trust anyone else.”[3]

Respect For Others In Society

Others in society, people that have important roles on a way that a person lives on a day-to-day basis, earn the respect of individuals by assisting others. For example, all individuals have the right to be respected by others until they prove otherwise. Simple words and phrases like, "Thank you," in the West and simple mechanisms like a slight bow in the East, such as a smile or direct eye contact, show a level of respect that over time will form, within a culture, a cohesive bond.

A woman's femininity in East Asia may make it more difficult for her to gain respect in the workplace. In the book, East Asian Sexualities, Stevi Jackson, Liu Jieyu, and Woo Juhyun state, “Women had to make a double effort to maintain their aesthetic self-image. When presenting themselves in the work environment, they had gone through careful management of gender display.” [4] This wall makes it difficult in the work place as respect, in that environment, is based on the reality of skill and personality, not on an assumption of proper behavior. Chinese women are placed in a situation in the workplace that creates a great compromise. They are expected to exhibit a more open sexuality than what is normally accepted in the social environment, but at the same time are being very sexually harassed. Hiroko Hayashi, states in his article, Sexual Harassment In The Workplace And Equal Employment Legislation, that more recently the total number of female Japanese workers has increased, which has been accompanied by a major development in sexual harassment as a form of sexual employment discrimination. "In Japan, sexual harassment has been defined as "unwelcome remarks and conduct in the workplace which influence a worker's job performance and cause a hostile work environment."" In the Fukuoka District Court on April 16, 1992, the first Japanese case for, "Seiteki Iyagarese," or "sexual unpleasantness" in the workplace was seen as a violation of a worker's interest in maintaining the honor of her reputation. Some women decide to abstain from the social environment to keep their respect.[5] Men can also be sexually harassed in the workplace. During the Economic Times-Synovate survey in India, it was found that out of 527 people, across seven cities, 19% of men have faced some kind of sexual harassment at the workplace. [6]

Signs of respect


Respect is shown in many different languages by following certain grammatical conventions, especially in referring to individuals.

An honorific is a word or expression (often a pronoun) that conveys respect when used in addressing or referring to a person or animal.

Typically honorifics are used for second and third persons; use for first person is less common. Some languages have anti-honorific first person forms (like "your most humble servant" or "this unworthy person") whose effect is to enhance the relative honor accorded a second or third person.

For instance, it is disrespectful to not use polite language and honorifics when speaking in Japanese with someone having a higher social status. The Japanese honorific "san" can be used when speaking English.[7]

In China it is rude to call someone by their first name unless you have known them for a long period of time. In work-related situations people address each other by their title. At home people often refer to each other by nicknames or terms of kinship.[8] In the Chinese culture, individuals often address their friends as juniors and seniors even if they are just a few months younger or older. When a Chinese person asks someone their age they often do this so they know how to address the person.[8]

Physical gestures

See also:
File:Westindischer Maler um 1530 001.jpg

A wife touching the feet of her husband.

In some areasTemplate:Which of India it is customary that, out of respect, when a person's foot accidentally touches a book or any written material (which are considered to be a manifestation of the goddess of knowledge (Saraswati) or another person's leg, it will be followed by an apology in the form of a single hand gesture (Pranāma) with the right hand, where the offending person first touches the object with the finger tips and then the forehead and/or chest. This also counts for money, which is considered to be a manifestation of the goddess of wealth Lakshmi.[9] Pranāma, or the touching of feet in Indian culture is a sign of respect. For instance, when a child is greeting his or her grandparent, they typically will touch their hands to their grandparents' feet. In Indian culture, it is believed that the feet are a source of power. [10]

In many African/West Indian descent communities and some non-African//West Indian descent communities respect can be signified by the touching of fists.

Many gestures or physical acts that are common in the West can be considered disrespectful in Japan. For instance, one should not point directly at someone.[11] When greeting someone or thanking them, it may be insulting if the person of lower status does not bow lower than the person with higher status. The duration and level of the bow depends on many factors such as age and status.[12] Some signs of physical respect apply to women only. If a woman does not wear cosmetics or a brassiere, it is possible that she will be considered unprofessional or others may think she does not care about the situation.[11]

Unlike Japanese culture, it is not necessary in Chinese culture to bow to one another as a greeting or parting gesture. Bowing is generally reserved as a sign of respect for elders and ancestors. When bowing, they place the fist of the right hand in the palm of their left at stomach level. The deeper the bow, the more respect they are showing.

In Chinese culture, there is not much participation in physical contact, especially when doing business because this can be seen as too casual, thus disrespectful. It is considered rude to slap, pat, or put one's arm around the shoulders of another.[13] However, affection in same-sex friendships in East Asia is much more pronounced than in the West. Same-sex friends will often be seen with their arms around one another, holding hands, and other signs of physical affection. [14]

It is uncommon to see very many hand gestures being used in Chinese culture because this is often considered to be excessive. [8] The Chinese sometimes do not smile or exchange greetings with strangers. Smiling or being friendly to someone you do not know well can be considered rude and too familiar. It is also common to see Chinese women covering their mouths when they laugh. Traditionally, a woman who laughed too loudly was considered to be uncouth and ill bred.[8]


Kow-towing (叩頭).

Traditionally, there was not much hand-shaking in Chinese culture. However, this gesture is now widely practiced among men, especially when greeting Westerners or other foreigners. Many Westerners may find Chinese handshakes to be too long or too weak, but this is because a weaker handshake is a gesture of humility and respect.[8]

Kowtowing, or kneeling and bowing so deeply that one’s forehead is touching the floor, is practiced during worship at temples. Kowtowing is a powerful gesture reserved mainly for honoring the dead or offering deep respect at a temple.[8]

Many codes of behavior revolve around young people showing respect to older people. Like in many cultures, younger Chinese individuals are expected to defer to older people, let them speak first, sit down after them and not contradict them. Sometimes when an older person enters a room, everyone stands. People are often introduced from oldest to youngest. Often time, younger people will go out their way to open doors for their elders and not cross their legs in front of them. The older you are the more respect you are expected to be treated with.[8]

See also


  1. Haidt, Jonathan, Jesse Graham (2007). When Morality Opposes Justice: Conservatives Have Moral Intuitions That Liberals May Not Recognize. Social Justice Research 20 (1): 98–116. [dead link]
  2. Frederick Douglass Quote : "I prefer to be true..."
  3. Cardinal De Retz Quote : "A man who doesn't trust..."
  4. Jackson, et al. East Asian Sexualities: Modernity, Gender and New Sexual Cultures, 89. London: Zed, 2008.
  6. Men too are victims of sexual harassment - Times Of India
  7. Tokyo Features | Fodor's Travel Guides
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 Protocol Professionals, Inc. | Chinese Etiquette & Protocol
  9. DeBruyn, Pippa; Bain, Keith; Venkatraman, Niloufer (2010). Frommer's India. pp. 76.
  10. Chatterjee, Gautam (2001). Sacred Hindu Symbols. pp. 47-48.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Japanese Etiquette | Tokyo Features|Fodor's Travel Guides
  12. Cultural Differences
  13. Doing Business in China | etiquette
  14. Kline, et al. "Communicating love: Comparisons between American and East Asian university students." International Journal of Intercultural Relations. no. 32 (2008): 200-2014.

Bloch, D. (1993) Positive self-talk for children, Teaching self-esteem through affirmations, A guide for parents, teachers, and counselors. New York: Bantam Books

Braman, O. R. (1997) The oppositional child. Indiana: Kidsrights

Brown, Asa D. (2012) Respect. Retrieved February 16, 2012, from

Bueno, L. (2012) Teaching children about respect. Retrieved February 14, 2012, from

Eriwn, E., Soodak, L. (2012) Respecting differences: Everyday ways to teach children about respect. Retrieved February 14, 2012, from

External links

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