Our choice to appreciate the character strengths in others can build a bridge of understanding and respect between our differences. Respect comes from the Latin word “spectare,” which means “to look,” and “re” in this word means to “do again”—so to “respect” another is “to look again,” making the effort to show deference to the uniqueness and value of another human being. And when we extend such respect to others, people often respond in a similar manner—viewing us in a more positive light as well, looking for our best intentions. No one can see the highest intentions of our minds and hearts unless we share them, or if they learn to spot our character strengths and to key into what matters most to us. The reverse is also true.
Look around you and you may see evidence of a much-needed change in the collective mindset. People are taking the time to understand others, choosing to stay in that space as long as is necessary to help others feel understood. More people are looking again at those who have felt “unseen,” in an effort to genuinely see others more, to value and understand them more fully—until they say, “Yes, you are seeing me.” Extending respect to others has never been more needed nor more healing to our communities.
Learn to Spot Strengths
Our compassion, unity and collective resilience increase when we learn to recognize and appreciate character strengths—in ourselves and in others. This not only gives us a renewed positive sense of self, but it also provides a boost to our relationships, in turn creating greater connection and satisfaction for all. It is an act of generosity to spot strengths, and it’s a gift that keeps on giving. Increase your awareness of these observable verbal and non-verbal cues that arise when you or others are engaging character strengths:
- Clearer/Faster Speech
- More Direct Communication
- Larger Vocabulary
- Stronger Voice
- Increased Energy
- Improved Posture
- Increased Eye Contact
- Eyes Light Up
- Increased Animation
The comment below is typical of how connection is increased when people feel truly “seen” for their strengths: “It feels good to be recognized by others for who we are at our core; and when people make the effort to see these parts of us, we feel closer to them and more likely to return the favor by seeing what’s best in them.” —Edwin Boom, Netherlands
As you explore what it means to respect others and really “see” their strengths, I encourage you to create your own “positivity journal” and capture your insights. Consider the following questions and how strengthening your relationships can boost connection and compassion for others:
- What strengths have you noticed and appreciated in others? How will you make a habit of recognizing character strengths in others?
- What strengths have others noticed in you? How did it feel when you were acknowledged and appreciated for your strengths?
- What strengths do you see in yourself and how can you contribute those strengths to building stronger relationships?
“Respect yourself and others will respect you.” —Confucius
Disclaimer: Mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, abuse, etc., are best addressed with the help of a medical professional or licensed therapist. Please seek appropriate help.
White, Chris. “The Deeper Meaning of Respect.” Essential Parenting. Accessed September 8, 2019. http://www.essentialparenting.com/2014/10/11/the-deeper-meaning-of-respect