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The Dangers of Disrespect and Overcoming Its Consequences

How do you react when Michelle is a professional freelance writer who loves music, poetry, pets, and the arts. She is a techno-geek as well.

A polite little dog extending a pawshake as a form of respect.

A polite little dog extending a pawshake as a form of respect.


R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Soul singer Aretha Franklin certainly echoes our need for respect in the song that she made popular in 1967. Small wonder that it has become a rousing anthem for raising the need for a little consideration for one’s esteem since those years ago.

We all need a little respect from others and to give it in return. When we do not get the regard that we deserve, how do we cope with it and come out of the darkness? It is a daily struggle in our lives, one which it is hard to let a single day pass sometimes without dealing with in some form, however minor. Certainly a tough question to answer.

What, in addition, are the different forms of disrespect we often encounter? What are the negative consequences of disrespect, how do we cope with it and for the betterment of all, encourage others to recognize the value of others and ourselves?

The vulcan salute, popularized by Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek Fame, another form of respect.

The vulcan salute, popularized by Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek Fame, another form of respect.

Different forms of disrespect

There are many ways in which others may show us lack of consideration and leave us feeling a little less than flattered. However minor, these forms of disrespect can leave us feeling rather jaded and make us question our sense of self-worth.

Being ignored.

When we extend a courtesy to others and are not acknowledged, we feel the pinch. Being ignored, though seemingly minor, is a form of disrespect that fosters resentment, sometimes to a great degree.

All of us know this well. When we are ignored by someone on a bus in spite of our courteous greeting, we have encountered lack of consideration and rudeness. On board Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit system. Many deliberately ignore those who need seats more than they do to continue sleeping blissfully as they make their way to their destinations.

Being belittled.

Being made to feel small can be a very grating form of disrespect. Cutting, belittling words can deal a devastating blow to anyone, especially to those whose sense of self-esteem is shaky.

I used to enjoy the game of basketball despite being rather small sized. One teenage girls used to say “She’s not going to be of much help, being so small.” This remark came even though I was relatively good at shooting hoops. It is an example of a tactless, somewhat belittling remark.

Being judged.

All of us judge to a certain degree, so it is a matter of having the awareness of when we do and managing this behavior. We have felt the sting of being labelled as this, that or the other without the other party never having put much thought into his words. It stands to reason that we should not deliver the sting if we do not want a similar package.

We have seen this many times in different social situations. If a person comes in a certain form of dress, the immediate reaction would be ‘he/she must be a ____________.” When it does not turn out to be the truth, there can be a little moment of awkwardness.

Being misrepresented.

A classic example of misrepresentation would be when a boss of a company is introduced as “one of the staff of.....” instead of having his position being properly explained. It can cause a little dent in one’s self-esteem. All of us have had our positions wrongly represented, in some way or other.

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Being patronized.

We often encounter this when we meet those who try to “help” us with the view that we are are in a lesser position and incapable of fending for ourselves.

A friend of my mother's recently offered to help to ‘clean’ her home after giving it a negative critique. Though I am not a perfect housekeeper by any means, such patronizing behavior can be imposing and even offensive.


The dangers of disrespect

Experts in the field often call slights and these seemingly trivial forms of disrespect “narcissistic injuries.” Though apparently minor, they can trigger deeply rooted insecurities and can have rather dangerous consequences.

Slight weighs on the mind.

Minor slights can weigh on the mind for days and reopen wounds that are difficult to heal. This is why it can sometimes be difficult to forgive a belittling or patronizing remark.

Slights can also make a person hypersensitive, creating a deep attachment to the need for respect.

Disrespect can cause deep rifts.

Disrespect can instill a deep desire for vindication and hence cause deep rifts. A close family and firm friendships can fall apart as a result of thoughtless, minor disrespect.

A couple I know had problems with their marriage because the wife was rather fed up with her husband’s sarcastic remarks. He was raised in a family notorious for making such remarks as a form of interaction and humor. She, on the other hand, was raised by parents who did not respect their children and had a need to hear more appreciative rather than insensitive words.

To heal this rift, both of them had to acknowledge the effect that the respect, or lack thereof, had on their lives and work forward from that understanding.

They can trigger violent reactions.

This is especially with those with anger issues or deep seated wounds that can be triggered off by a thoughtless remark. Criminologists note that many misdemeanors occur because of a sense of slight.

Fights among young teenage boys often result because of one making a thoughtless remark about another. I once had to break up a fight in a school canteen that resulted from such a thoughtless slight.

A boy scout salute, a form of respect.

A boy scout salute, a form of respect.

Coping with disrespect

Handling feelings of disrespect can be a little tricky, because the wrong response can trigger negative reactions and situations or relationships that are hard to salvage.

Respond positively.

When we are disregarded in any way, giving a negative reaction in return seldom, if ever, prompts others to respect us in the way we desire. More often, it causes even more disrespect.

It may seem like replicating Mary Poppins or being too saintly. But it is not so. Teaching teens is a good example. When I was disrespected in class, I found that making them feel the pinch with a positive return and approaching them about their behavior after often had better outcomes.

Tell them how the disrespect made you feel.

This takes a whole lot of courage. When we are disrespected, it can help, in the right context, to have a heart to heart talk with the person who slighted you and let them know how it made you feel. Perhaps they were unaware of the fact that the behavior constituted being disrespectful so it would be good to bring it to their attention.

Find your own place of self-respect.

As a good friend of mine would say in such situations, “work on yourself first.” Often, feelings of disrespect are grounded in our own feelings of insecurity and need for appreciation.Acknowledging your own self-worth and being happy in spite of any negativity helps to dampen its effect.

Be an example.

If we desire the appreciation of others, we have to exemplify that respect. Being consistent in giving respect to all and discouraging hurtful remarks or gossip would certainly help.



What is a trilinea?

A trillinea is an unrhymed three line poem that poets often regard as little micro poems or verses. It resembles a haiku, with the first line of the poem having 4 syllables, the next,8 and the third,4.

Trilinea can be about anything, but must contain the word “rose”. The restrictions can challenge, yet develop a poet’s creativity. For excellent explanations and examples of trillinea, do take the time to read Rosemary Sadler's poem A Bouquet of Roses with a DIfference and Daisy Mariposa's detailed article, Poetry Forms.


The Rose of Regard, a trilinea by Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin



Coming out of the darkness of disrespect takes time, but can be done with a little positivity, self-management and encouragement. We must also be ready to earn the respect we deserve by being respectful ourselves. A respectful writing time ahead for all!



Robin Carretti from Hightstown on February 16, 2018:

I praise you how the feeling come out you put all your emotion into your words for others to feel them thanks so much great read

Ruchi Gupta on December 12, 2017:

Very insightful write-up on disrespect. Helped me to cope up with low feelings I encountered on having been spoken to disrespectfully on various occasions. In my case my in-laws have been disrespectfull. Then even my maid-servant spoke impolitely to me which I never expected.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on May 03, 2017:

Michelle, wonderful hub. I find most often people who have no respect for others have none for themselves.

If parents do not teach their children respect, the children will not respect the parents and will not teach their own children and chain goes on and on.

I very much enjoyed your hub


Delia on February 05, 2015:

It's sad to see so many children that don't show respect anymore, it most likely comes from home. You are not born with the thought of respect, it's a taught manner...showing respect ~ reaps respect! I'm from Germany and was reared very strictly, hence I did the same with my paid off in the long run. I've been belittled, judged, misrepresented and bullied, but I remember the words of my mother, "Only people with low self esteem will do this. Remember, they are only words and it's up to you what you want to do with not internalize them, if you do you reap the consequences"

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on May 16, 2013:

I do agree, Phillydreamer, we can't be perfect and take note of everything that people do for us. It's impossible. But we can try our best! Thanks for sharing.

Jose Velasquez from Lodi, New Jersey on May 16, 2013:

I guess if our survival depended on our ability to appreciate everything people do for us, we'd all bloom upwards to he sky.

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on May 12, 2013:

Thanks, Ish! True respect has to be earned. Thanks for the share!

Ishwaryaa Dhandapani from Chennai, India on May 11, 2013:

Bravo! A wonderfully written hub! All of us like to earn respect yet learn how to address disrespect in one way or another. You rightly mentioned that we must be ready to earn respect by being respectful ourselves. Way to go!

Thanks for SHARING. Useful, Awesome & Interesting. Voted up & shared

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 24, 2013:

Yes, we all should encourage respect and empathy for each other....not run each other down. Thanks for sharing, Joanne!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 24, 2013:

Yes, most sought, and rarely freely given, unfortunately, Who. Thanks for sharing!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 24, 2013:

Yes, it is, Kathi. If you don't know the best way to return the favor, it's best to step aside! Thanks for sharing!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 24, 2013:

Thanks for sharing, Lurana.

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 23, 2013:

Yes, the world in general needs a huge dose of knowing that everyone has value, and great value at that. Thanks for sharing, Denise, well said!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 23, 2013:

HI MizBejabbers, glad to connect! I empathize completely with the feeling because I used to get the exact same treatment for my small size too. I think technology and social media has somehow lessened the importance of values too. Thanks for sharing!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 23, 2013:

Thanks, Janet. Respect is so important, especially these days when some folks (we see it on the news) practice just the opposite. Thanks for sharing!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 23, 2013:

Yes, most often we show it because we snap in moments of pressure. Thanks for sharing, Elias.

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 23, 2013:

Yes. It's hard to get round disrespect, Leslie, hence my writing this hub. We have to stand up for ourselves while earning it too. Thanks for sharing, my friend!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 23, 2013:

Yes, nobody. Respect begets respect, indeed, when you show some, you get some! Thanks for sharing Sneha!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 23, 2013:

As they all say, respect begets respect. If only more people understood that! Thanks for sharing, Mary.

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 23, 2013:

Yes, we must not, and we must also learn to give respect too. Thanks for sharing, Nithya.

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 23, 2013:

Thank you, travmaj. That's the thing...with increased technology, the net, etc, disrespect is more rampant than ever. Thanks for sharing.

MrsBrownsParlour on April 23, 2013:

Valuable insights and clear, compassionate thinking about social behavior. Lovely poetry too!

Kathi Mirto from Fennville on April 23, 2013:

Our society needs to remember what it means to respect others, these days, even when they're not returning the favor. Sometimes, it's best to step aside.

whonunuwho from United States on April 23, 2013: of the the finest qualities of human kind, and that which is often most sought. Thanks for sharing this nice work. whonu

Joanne M Olivieri on April 23, 2013:

This is a fantastic article which offers some great tips on dealing with disrespect. Working in customer service, I see and deal with this all the time. It's very difficult but can be overcome. Voted up, great hub.

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on April 23, 2013:

Michelle-what a timely article! I R-E-S-P-E-C-T your opinion and knowledge on this subject! All kidding aside, our country sure needs a huge dose of this right now.

Sharing, UP/A/I

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on April 23, 2013:

Very good hub. You brought out some aspects of respect that most people don’t think about. I really resonated with it because I am a small person, and all my younger life I had to put up with this kind of disrespect. It really can give one an inferiority complex. Thank goodness, once you get older, people don’t seem to notice diminutive body size anymore, and, too, I learned to consider the source. I think we are not giving our children enough lessons in respect anymore. Very few of them are taught to say “yes ma'm” and “yes sir”, please, and thank you. I am a Southerner, and this is very important to me. Voted you up++

Janet Giessl from Georgia country on April 23, 2013:

You are absolutely brilliant. Every topic you choose turns out into an interesting, well-written, well-presented, comprehensive ... hub! Very good points you found regarding disrespect. I also love your trillinea. Few words with a great meaning.

Elias Zanetti from Athens, Greece on April 23, 2013:

Excellent hub! ... and a reminder of those basic values of life that we sometimes might forget amidst the hectic way of modern life. As other commenters noted and I absolutely agree, respect for other people presupposes self-respect.

Karen Silverman on April 23, 2013:

Sigh...this touched me deeply Michelle..

Here's my take..or - my experience - with dis/respect..

i come from a bad childhood where respect was lacking (understatement)..

i believe it's had a dual impact - 1) i go out of my way to respect others(unless they have dis-earned it - yes - that's an i'mkar'n'

and B) it has often taken me longer to REACT to disrespect paid to me!

i had to LEARN to stand up to disrespect, if that makes any sense..


bottom line, dear - LOVED it - and your trillinea!


Sneha Sunny from India on April 23, 2013:

Great hub! Nobody deserves to be disrespected. And in order to get some, you need to show some as well! People don't realize how much the disrespect is affecting the one being disrespected. These are some really good points to cope up with disrespect.

Great share! Rated and voted up!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on April 23, 2013:

In order to receive respect, we have to show respect to others. I always open doors for people (male or female) and if someone doesn't hold the door for me, I smile and say to them: "Thank you very much". Then they realize what they did and they blush.....

Great Hub. Voted UP, and shared all around.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on April 23, 2013:

Great write, we all need respect and need to give respect. We must not take disrespect lying down.

travmaj from australia on April 23, 2013:

You have such a way with words - disrespect is difficult to accept and it appears everywhere. You have made some extremely credible points.

Culture is changing also - I watched an man be slightly abused for holding a door open for a young lady. She just considered it old fashioned and she was perfectly capable herself. I guess it's just not the done thing anymore but leaves us gasping.

However, I can't despair. I know some wonderful, respectful young people. Self respect and respect have not disappeared completely. I just hope they win out in the end.

Love the Trillinea - rounds of a most interesting hub. Voting .

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 22, 2013:

Correct, we should always do unto others what we want done unto us! Thanks for sharing, Ruchira!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 22, 2013:

Thanks, Audrey.

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 22, 2013:

Self-respecting folks will always respect others too, well said, Mary! Thanks for sharing!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 22, 2013:

Yes, it begins with not showing disrespect. Thanks for sharing, rasta!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 22, 2013:

Correct, respect has to be is not a given, but it is also wrong to show disrespect especially when it is not deserved. Thanks for sharing, Bill.

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 22, 2013:

Thanks, Rasma.

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 22, 2013:

Thanks, Janine! Am glad you enjoyed the trillinea. Micro poetry is a great complement to pictures in blogs and writing. Thanks for sharing!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 22, 2013:

Yes, it's the little things in life we have to learn to appreciate. Thanks for sharing, Kidscrafts, and the constant support!

Subhas from New Delhi, India on April 22, 2013:

Very wonderfully written and honored a subject we all face in everyday life.

Ruchira from United States on April 22, 2013:

As they say...treat others as you would want to be treated.

I usually nod or join hands or hug to show mine.

Great hub, Michelle.

Audrey Howitt from California on April 22, 2013:

Wonderful reminder Michelle!

Mary Craig from New York on April 22, 2013:

A truly respectful hub that many need to take to heart. To earn respect you must be respectful; have respect for yourself and it will be easier to respect others. You've made some great points and given great examples. Your trillinea was an added bonus!

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Marvin Parke from Jamaica on April 22, 2013:

No disrespect equals respect. A very important concept within my culture. I am glad you did this article.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 22, 2013:

We all deserve respect but we must also be willing to demand it and earn it through our respectful actions. Good reminder, Michelle. Thank you!

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on April 22, 2013:

Voted up and awesome with all respect. Wonderful and great song.

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on April 22, 2013:

First off loved how you quoted one of my favorite songs here!! And the addition of another Trillinea Rose Poem was brilliant. Wonderful article and really some great suggestions, too!! Have, of course voted up and shared as always!!

kidscrafts from Ottawa, Canada on April 22, 2013:

Great article about R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Michelle! I love the song af Aretha Franklin! Great choice!

We all need a little respect. We have to respect others as we have to respect ourself. I think that when we show respect to others we will receive genuine respect from others. Little words like "thank you" go a long way!

I am always baffled by people who don't take the time to hold the door while entering a mall for example. It's a little gesture that doesn't cost a lot of time but is so much appreciated!

So many things to say about that subject!

Thank you for talking about respect and its different facets Michelle!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 22, 2013:

On the dangers of disrespect, coming out of its darkness and a trillinea poem.

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