Respect: One Antidote for Shame

We have been discussing the powerful force of toxic shame and how it destructively impacts the lives of children and adults. We have learned through research that shame and violence are tightly linked. So, we can deduce as a society (and as families) that as we reduce shame, we will most probably realize a reduction in violence.

What are some ways we can change the impact of shame?

Showing respect can de-fuse aggression.

One way to reduce the impact of shame is to be intentional about respecting yourself and others. If you are respecting people in your life, you likely will not be shaming them.

Respect usually takes four major forms, all of which are important: respect for self, respect for others, respect for all forms of life and the environment that sustains them, and respect for principles and truths. It may be defined as follows:

  • Respect means that a person has and shows a high positive regard for the worth of someone or something.
  • It is a way to honor and appreciate someone or something.
  • It also encompasses the attitudes and behaviors attributed when someone has a high opinion of someone or something: when someone values or acknowledges the worth and the rights of that individual or the worth of the object or property.
  • And finally, respect involves a decision to obey rules or directives that are put into place by authorities.

If we are being clear and focused on this issue, then I believe big improvements in our relationships and in our families will ensue.

You can show respect in a number of ways

Putting the focus on respect

What are some key ways to show respect?  Here are 15 suggestions:

  • You face the person.
  • You make and keep eye contact, unless this is considered to be disrespectful, as in some cultures or situations.
  • You use facial expression that are friendly and match what the person is saying.
  • You use body language that is open and accepting, smiling, nodding, etc.
  • You stand and or sit straight up.
  • You stand or sit at least 18 inches away from the other person; not any closer.
  • You give time to the other person to express his/her thoughts, feelings, needs values, concerns, beliefs or perspectives.
  • You use I-messages to share your opinion.
  • If someone disagrees with something, he or she can state that disagreement as a personal opinion, not as a fact.
  • You maintain your cool.
  • You speak with a firm, but calm voice.
  • You speak slowly and clearly.
  • You do not interrupt.
  • You are polite by being thankful, appreciative and sensitive.
  • You address someone with proper respect.  It could be, “yes, sir,” “Yes ma’am,” or “Yes, Your Honor.”

These are some ways you can be intentional to show respect.

The more we respect others, the more likely we will be respected.

When people are respectful of each other, they are less likely to behave with hostile, angry or aggressive interchanges that can lead to physical, emotional or relational harm.

The more we respect others in these ways, the more likely we will be respected. Wouldn’t respectful relationships create a great positive cycle within our families and society?

Gerry Vassar, President and CEO, Lakeside Educational Network

Some information taken from Preventing Violence through Anger Management, 2006, Diane Wagenhals.


  1. Kenyatta

    Hello guys,
    I think I had to work on being appropriate woman that my mother has always told me not to do anything INAPPROPAITE and i didn’t listened to her. So when i finally realized that she took my everything and my phone then i knew i had to listen to her and do what she tells me to listen to her every single times i have my ears open up and starting listen to her more than ever. i tried to be good behavior.

  2. ashley jones

    u should always respect other if u want respect back

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