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The Need for Respect


Explanations > Needs > The Need for Respect

Need | Example | Related to | Discussion |  So what?



To be respected. To be taken seriously. To feel relevant. To be considered worthy. To be noticed. Not to be treated with contempt.


Members of a street gang follow few rules, but respect for one another is key. One of main reasons outsiders do not like them is because they show no respect to other people.

A successful teacher bases her method on giving and requiring respect to and from all pupils. She also requires that they respect one another.

Related to


Part of Includes Related to
Identity Belonging

To be taken seriously

To feel relevant

To be considered worthy

To be noticed

To be valued



To be admired



We all have a need for a sense of identity, and a key way we get this is in the way others acknowledge us and treat us as if we are important and have good reason to be here.

When we are respected, people take us seriously, listening to us, seeking to understand. We are admired and valued. When we are taken seriously, we are accepted and esteemed.

There is an external/internal element to this need. Some need regular acknowledgement from other people, while others have sufficient self-respect and are more internally driven.

To not be taken seriously is to reduce our social status and hence our identity. When we are trivialized or ignored, we feel smaller and somehow less. As a result we may become depressed, frustrated or angry, and may take revenge in subtle or very public ways.

The opposite of respect is contempt, which is a key predictor of divorce and break-up. When one partner shows contempt, the relationship is very likely doomed. Showing contempt to anyone is a deep insult and will often make them very unhappy with you, whether they show it at the time or not.

Respect is a notable factor in criminal gangs and groups who live on the edge of the law. When you are not protected by common social values of care nor by courts and police, then having the respect of others is necessary for survival in a hard-edged social group. Without respect in such groups you may meet physical harm and even death. This is perhaps indicative of the evolutionary force behind the need for respect. When society breaks down, you must live on your reputation.

Sometimes business managers expect respect from their people while not showing respect to them. All they will get when they act like this is compliance and the appearance of respect, but underneath, their people will be more contemptuous. Respect for others is an important characteristic of leadership (would you follow someone who had no respect for you?).

So what?

Pay attention to people. When they are near you, look at them, regularly. Ask them intelligent questions. Listen to their answers without interrupting. Take their seriously. You do not need to agree, but when you disagree, do so with your argument, not by attacking the person. For example, say 'that is wrong' rather than 'you are wrong'.

Never be contemptuous of others unless you want them to become vengeful.

See also

Esteem, Respect (in the classroom)


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