One of my greatest challenges in growing up has been recognizing that it is more important to have someone’s respect than their friendliness. When I use the word respect I’m not talking about a deference built from fear but a genuine positive regard for another. It is easy to act in a friendly manner toward someone without truly respecting them.
There was a time when it felt more valuable for me to experience and work toward this feeling of friendliness and being liked. As I’ve grown I’ve realized to act in a manner that is in accord with my values does not always lead to feelings of happiness from those around me. This used to give me a feeling of terrible conflict (to be honest it often still does). The important realization and ongoing practice for me has been shifting my priority in my relationships to be on mutual respect rather than mutual good feeling.
Good feelings are certainly a part of my most meaningful relationships but so are conflict, anger, love, passion, sadness, and many other much richer and sometimes contentious emotions.
|Relationships based on Friendliness||Relationships Based on Respect|
|Feel nice.||Are authentic.|
|Create room for pleasantness.||Create room for collaboration.|
|Avoid conflict.||Embrace resolution.|
|Prioritize Easy over Honesty||Prioritize Honesty over Easy|
|Lead to friend status on Facebook.||Lead to friend status in life.|
True friendships, partnership, and collaborations require something deeper than friendliness to find their richer and most authentic expression. They require that you reveal something deeper and when you truly show yourself you may find yourself in conflict more than you had before. Yet even if someone doesn’t agree with you, they can respect you for your integrity, forthrightness, passion, vision, and a myriad of other noble virtues; all of which are a much stronger basis for connection.
I do my best to act based on my internal values at all times but the desire to be liked and avoid pain, and the conditioned and instinctive responses that come with social interaction can easily lead me astray. Now when I enter into situations where I feel I may be swayed by these reactions, I make sure to remind myself of my values and I ask myself the question “Would I rather be liked or respected?”