Continuing our discussion on disrespect from last month (Click here for Part I).
There are two sides to every conflict, and two sides to sensitivity and respect. The key, of course, is communication. It starts with the person who has felt disrespected. The next time you get frustrated because of how someone treated you or because of something they said, try running this through your mind over and over again:
“Hurting me was probably not their intention.”
If you can get to a place where you accept this, it will help you to keep your composure in the conversation and prevent you from getting more emotional, frustrated, or upset.
But it doesn’t end there. It is important, not only for you but also for the other person’s understanding of how to engage with you, to communicate back to that person how they came across to you, and provide an example of what tends to work better for you.
Example: You presented your work to a team member who only gave you feedback on what was wrong with it. This time let’s call your team member David.
Once you have calmed down and are sure you will not speak with a frustrated tone, go back to David and say something along the lines of, “David, I appreciate your honest feedback. However, when I am only told what’s wrong with my work, it can make me feel as though none of what I do is any good. It would be very helpful for me to receive encouraging feedback, as well; letting me know what is good about my work to help balance what I need to work on more.”
Unfortunately, sensitivity when feeling disrespected doesn’t always work like this. When people don’t understand their own sensitivity, as I mentioned earlier, they often respond with frustration and defensiveness. This tends to produce more conflict because the person who initially communicated didn’t intend to be hurtful and a negative response to them can make them feel attacked.
The other struggle with sensitivity when feeling disrespected is that it can cause the person to withdraw from the one that they felt disrespected them, holding on to the anger instead of talking to them about it.
It takes persistence and continued learning to get to a place where you understand your sensitivity, what areas make you feel the most disrespected, and how to let those go so that you can re-engage effectively.
Getting to a place where you are comfortable talking to someone about how they made you feel is hard enough. Unfortunately, speaking constructively can also be difficult. If you go back to that person pointing the finger, making them feel it was completely their fault, it will not work out well and you won’t accomplish much.
The most constructive way is to focus the conversation on how you perceived the interaction based on who you are, not based on the other person doing something wrong. The same phrase said with the same tone to two different people does not always come across the same way or mean the same thing.
It’s sad, but some people can be jerks. Even when you come back to them in a constructive way, they can write you off. This is a real sign that they don’t in fact respect you. That’s their issue, not yours. In situations like this, it is always best to disengage from that relationship. But, if you can’t, it’s okay to take a stronger stance. If a constructive way doesn’t work, it’s okay to get stronger with someone. It’s okay to say, “I don’t appreciate how you treat me and I’m not going to let it stand. I will call you out every time until you learn to speak to me with respect.”
On the opposite side, if you are a person that desires to respect others, it is important to listen to them when they come to you and share how you make them feel. It is important to listen to how you come across. That helps you learn, and it will only help you become more effective at engaging with others.
And if you notice someone starts to get frustrated, agitated, or defensive when engaging in conversation with them, sometimes an immediate apology is all it takes to show you respect them and diffuse potential conflict before it gets worse. Something simple, like, “I’m sorry, I hope I didn’t say something inappropriate or come across in the wrong way,” is all it may need.
Disrespect is a two-sided coin. It is a result of one person’s sensitivity and another person’s communication style. If people want to engage effectively with each other, it takes effort on both sides.
To combat disrespect:
- Don’t assume another’s intention
- Understand your own sensitivity
- Communicate how you felt disrespected
- Listen to the other’s view on the situation
- Modify communication styles based on the needs of others