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Four Reasons to Stand Ground Against Disrespect

MsDora, former teacher and Certified Christian Counselor shares tips for smooth relationships with friends and for encounters with strangers

You can refuse to tolerate disrespect.

You can refuse to tolerate disrespect.

Standing your ground is a precautionary measure to ensure that the offender does not violate another person’s right to be respected and get away with it.

The two main points of the American Stand Your Ground law are applicable to the invasion of disrespect in a personal space:

(a) Self-defense in the face of a perceived threat;
(b) No obligation to retreat.

There are good reasons for an individual to stand ground against this enemy which undermines morale, sabotages progress and ruin relationships. Here are four reasons which enable self-worth and self-growth in the one who stands, and may also have a positive influence on the offender.

1. To Showcase Respectability

The individual who stands ground against disrespect is showcasing his respectability. He is setting the standard for interactions with the offender and with everyone else, especially if he makes it clear that he offers the same kind of civility that he is asking. People learn by observing each other, and when one person insists that he and everyone in his space be treated humanely, the attitude spreads.

Children, youth and morally-challenged adults are at a disadvantage when their disrespect is ignored. Teaching them the theory in a classroom lesson or church sermon is good; but it is even better to deal with their offenses as they happen, and advise them what the appropriate action should be. They get the opportunity to apply what they learn when someone points out what they are doing wrong and suggest how they can improve.

Besides, when people care enough to tell offenders that they are expected to be respectful, the offenders may respond by accepting the challenge.

2. To Seize a Teaching/Learning Moment

Individuals who have been taught respect may assume that everyone else has been taught the same principles. They may make statements to an offender like, “You’re old enough to know better,” or “Didn’t your parents teach you anything?” Some extra communication time may reveal that people have been taught differently according to culture, religion and possibly other factors. Some teaching and learning may be necessary to get everyone on the same page.

For example, Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., self-styled empowering entrepreneur, cites problems with employees from the Y Generation (born mid 1970s to mid 1990s). He describes them as “very independent and not afraid to challenge the status-quo” and “wanting a relationship with their boss like the ones they have with their parents.” Hansen says that these Generation Y employees think that they are the ones being disrespected.

It is obvious then, that standing your ground against disrespect may necessitate learning about the people who commit the offenses, and teaching the kind of respect which is expected in a particular space. Respect includes compliance with expectations, and it helps to understand the people who are asked to comply.

3. To Make the Offender Accountable

No one can truly demand respect from another, but exposure to the principle and practice makes an individual accountable for the personal choice to be or not be respectful. Standing your ground integrates the processes of teaching, practicing and making someone accountable.

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The offender may reflect on the importance of respect in his or her life:

"How does it make me feel when I am respectful versus how I feel when I am rude?”

“How does it make me feel when someone respects me versus how I feel when someone insults me?”

“Do I like how people respond to me when I respect them versus how they respond to me when I treat them with disregard?"

All these questions can be answered by reflecting on an incident in which some stood their ground in an interaction with the person doing the self-evaluation.

Some people have difficulty learning without personal involvement. They can learn from an actual experience of someone standing ground against his or her disrespect. In future, the reason for disrespect may be forgetting, but it can never be the excuse of not knowing.

4. To Sow a Seed With Unlimited Potential

The nationally-renown public speaker scheduled to make a presentation at a convention. Traffic congestion delayed him, and he drove into the parking lot minutes before he was to appear on stage. He asked his wife to find her way to the auditorium while he pulled his props from the car trunk and get help to carry them backstage.

When all was set, he looked into the auditorium just to make that his wife was settled. There she was on the back row. He beckoned the young adult usher and whispered to him, “The pregnant woman in the back row is my wife; do you mind seating her near the front?”

The usher who told the story said that two things about the speaker’s request impacted him all the way into his adult life.

(a) The fact that the speaker did not express anger at him for seating his wife at the back;

(b) Standing his ground for the respect his wife deserved.

The usher admired the demeanor of the speaker and considered it worthy to be imitated. He also mirrored the speaker's respect for his wife in his own marriage. Who knows how many people he has influenced by telling this story?

Benefits of Standing Your Ground

In Deborah Norville’s book The Power of Respect: Benefit From the Most Forgotten Element of Success, she mentions multiple benefits of promoting respect. In the home it produces stronger marriages, healthier family dynamics and more polite children. In the workplace it results in lower employee turnover and less lawsuits.

Standing your ground against disrespect is the right response in order to preserve respect in the foundation of the home and the fabric of society. It begins with nurturing self-respect, the source of strength for standing your ground.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Dora Weithers

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