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Patel: A little respect goes a long way

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Patel: A little respect goes a long way

Meera Patel, Columnist

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There are always those people who you think you’ll never get along with. Maybe it bothers you that they think they are the most important people on the planet. Maybe it’s the way they act around other people. Maybe it’s the way they talk to you or the way you feel when you’re around them.

Regardless of the reasons we don’t get along with people, it’s important to at least try to understand where they’re coming from. Everyone has their own experiences, their own way of thinking and their own way of carrying themselves; there’s no way you can pass judgment on people’s actions without first understanding why they do what they do.

Respect is vital to all relationships. If you don’t respect your friends, family and coworkers, it can be hard to have a working relationship. Without respect, you’re probably not treating them the way they deserve to be treated, because you’re not understanding where they’re coming from. You’re not seeing the two sides of every conversation: Every time you interact, the other person has feelings too, and if you don’t respect those feelings, the relationship can turn sour quickly. Understanding is the key to respect.

It’s important to realize that everyone has good qualities. There is something you can come to admire in anyone you meet, if you take the time to do so.

I’m not saying you need to lay down and let people bulldoze your self-esteem in every interaction. There is a difference between respect and groveling at someone’s feet.

The quiet respect that you give someone can make or break your relationship. Even just taking the time to listen without trying to butt in with your own ideas makes a huge impact on how you interact. Some people talk constantly and don’t give you a chance to say a single word. Even in these cases, it’s important to show them that you respect them enough to listen to a certain extent. But it’s also important to ask for their respect when you speak. Showing them respect, then asking for theirs in return, is important in order to work together in the future.

It can be hard to respect someone who makes it clear that they don’t respect you. But it’s worth it to try to make the best of the situation and keep a cool head. Put yourself in their shoes for a second; try to see how they’re feeling, and use that to help you try to work better with them.

Part of this is learning to be able to recognize your flaws while still remaining confident. Maybe you are a control freak. Maybe you over- or under-delegate. Maybe you just can’t stand it when meetings are longer than five minutes. Once you recognize these things, you can work on yourself to make sure you’re doing the right thing in various situations. And try to understand where others are coming from, so that you can understand how you can best work with them.

No one sets out to do a bad job on a given task. People, for the most part, have good intentions. Keep this in mind next time you are dealing with a difficult situation; put yourself in someone else’s shoes and learn to respect him or her. A little bit of respect can go a long way.

Meera Patel is a McCormick junior. She can be reached at meera@u.northwestern.edu. If you want to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com.

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