Respect: The Foundation To Good Communication

"Respect is a communication skill that bring the world together

~Leslie Dickson, CEO of ProVoice Inc, a leadership skills development company

Aretha Franklin asked for a little respect in her iconic 1967 hit song. It earned her 2 Grammys and eventually an induction into the Grammy hall of fame. Fast forward to present day and people are still asking for respect. 

The hallmark of a BRAVE Communicator is that respect is the foundation of all her or his communication activity.

First, you have to respect yourself, your reputation, and your growth enough to be as honest and guilt free as possible when you exchange ideas with others.

Second, you have to respect other people enough to learn how to listen, and  accommodate their communication needs.

In her blog, Dickson calls respect a communication skill. A skill is an ability coming from one's knowledge, practice, and aptitude. It stands to reason that respect can be learned, practiced, and developed. 

You can learn the skill of respect. Communication without respect leads to manipulation.

People don't care how much you know until they know how much care. You can't communicate care without respect. Showing respect takes skill. Getting that skill requires knowledge.

Let's set some ground work. When I speak of respect, I am defining it as esteem for or a sense of worth. 

Two ways you can communicate respect today!

1. Say to yourself, this person has worth

The person to whom you speak has value beyond what you ascribe to him or her. Because he or she is a living human being makes them worthy of esteem. The problem we have in showing respect is that we don't see others for who they are. We see others for who they are to us.

See people for who they are. They are human with feelings, gifts, personality, strengths and weaknesses. 

2. Show genuine interest

The famed face to face communication pie chart tells us that our communication breaks down this way: 

This means that 93% of what you are saying isn't coming out of your mouth! Talk is cheap because people are evaluating your body language and tone of voice to determine if you are genuine or not. 

Showing genuine interest in others starts when we stop thinking of ourselves. Most people tell me they don't have time to learn a new skill. What they are really saying is "I don't want to stop focusing on my needs long enough to learn about others." That is the underlying message though most people would never admit it out loud.

I am not saying that message is right or wrong. I am saying you are doing yourself a disservice by NOT taking time to realize that others have worth. By showing genuine interest in other, you are communicating respect.

I'll leave you with Dickson's final thought on respect.

"It isn’t about your intention to be respectful. We all have that. It’s about changing your behavior to let others “feel” respected by you. It is this “feeling of being respected” that holds the power." 

What do you think about this post? What, if any, challenges does this view on respect pose?


  1. Spot on (as always!)...I knew body language was important, but I wasn't aware of the impact it has on people determining if I am genuine or not. Makes me think, that's for sure.

    1. Yes Andrea most people aren't aware of the impact body language has on communication. the good news is that with a few tweaks you can open up yourself to more people. I'll post on those changes later :)

  2. Great post, Julia. Without being intentional in all of our communications, it is easy to overlook the importance of respect! As you say: "Communication without respect leads to manipulation"