Disrespecting someone means showing lack of caring for the feelings, traditions, rights or wishes of someone else. It also means lack of courtesy.
Recently, I was incredibly disrespected by two women who I genuinely cared for, routed for, and supported. These women knew they had the power to choose how to handle something. Instead of taking a graceful, respectful route they chose a different route. I knew I was on the receiving end of disrespect, because there were 100+ other ways to handle this situation that would have left both parties feeling uplifted. Now, they may have their reasons for choosing this approach as opposed to having a professional, intelligent conversation, but here is where I pause: Is there ever good reasons to be disrespectful or hurtful or discourteous?
I personally don’t think so. I personally don’t think disrespecting women (well, humans for that matter) is ever the way to move forward. There are better, more elevated ways to approach life.
Are you knowingly or unknowingly disrespecting the women in your life?
You may be disrespecting another woman if…
You’re dismissing her thoughts, feelings, ideas, wishes or opinions. Being dismissive sends the direct message of “Who you are and what you’re feeling simply does not matter here.” Dr. Jamie Long, psychologist, says, “Invalidation is one of the most damaging forms of emotional abuse.” Are you ready to invalidate another woman?
You’re standing by and allowing another female to be dismissed, bullied or disrespected. Being a witness and allowing it to happen makes us just as guilty. Know that you can stand up and say, "This isn't the best way to approach this." Standing up for your fellow females and keeping everyone in check, including yourself, is important here. It matters.
You’re choosing to emotionally attack her personal attributes. As women, we tend to have easy access to our emotions. As author Emily V. Gordon says, women tend “compete, compare, undermine and undercut one another.” If you are choosing to personally attack a fellow female instead of having a professional, fact-based conversation, then you are actively disrespecting another woman. You are sending the message that she is not capable of having an important, non-emotional conversation, as well as ending the message that you are not capable of having that conversation either.
You’re failing to return a greeting from a fellow female. Deliberately choosing to ignore another female is hurtful and immature. It only reinforces hurtful thoughts, feelings or behaviors on both sides.
You’re speaking to a select group of people and not making eye contact or speaking with select others. This passive-aggressive attempt to not acknowledge another woman’s existence reminds me of behaviors you see on an elementary-school playground. It’s petty and clearly reveals your intention: to hurt someone else’s feelings, by choice.
You’re name calling and gossiping. Talking about another woman under your prescribed label is extremely disrespectful to her, but also reveals your character and intelligence. It doesn’t help either one of you to live life at that level. Also, sharing a personal story of a fellow female’s that isn’t your story to tell is an invasion of her privacy and trust, sending her the message that you do not respect her.
Your body language is closed, shut off or aggressive. This includes eye rolling, shouldering out someone, keeping your back to them, never making eye contact, avoidance. This body language reveals your inner thoughts of disrespect, anger, revenge, or whatever may be fueling it. Does this behavior make you feel empowered?
You’re choosing to ignore the relationship. You may be friends or co-workers or family members. Whatever the relationship may be, if you’re choosing to move forward with actions or behaviors completely ignoring the relationship you have, you are telling the other woman that relationship doesn’t matter. You are telling that woman the time you spent developing that relationship doesn’t matter.
You're knowingly manipulating her. If you have your own secret intentions and you’re using another woman, without her knowing, to achieve those intentions, that is manipulation. That is you using another woman’s feelings, energy, efforts, talents and time. Read that again: That is you using another woman.
You’re withholding compliments she deserves. If another woman deserves a compliment but you’re choosing to withhold that, you are bullying her. For example, withholding deserved compliments such as, “Thank you for your efforts, time and energy here. You were an incredible asset” or “Your work here is wonderful. Your ideas really shined,” is a way of invalidating her efforts and time spent. Choosing to withhold a compliment is more about jealousy on the other end and less about what is fair and deserved.
Nobody is perfect and sometimes we hurt our fellow females without intending to do so, but pausing before deciding to disrespect a fellow female will help our world.
Instead of disrespecting her, show her the respect of a professional conversation. If she has asked for a response, provide her with a response. If she has asked for your assistance or feedback, and you are in a place to do so, uplift her with constructive feedback.
Be the kind of woman you want to be and ask yourself: Do I want to be the kind of woman who chooses to disrespect other women?
The goal is to encourage, uplift and support each other. Let us all move forward with that intention in this challenging but beautiful world.
By: Sheena Jeffers, Chief Experience Officer, WELLwomen, Inc.