We are here to improve our relationships with others
in order to transform the Jewish people in these urgent times.
Who is an Honorable Person?
A major underlying issue in many quarrels is that people feel that the other person didn’t treat them with the proper respect. The specific details of the quarrel are trivial compared to the fundamental need to be treated with respect.
“Who is an honorable person?” say the Sages (Pirkei Avos 4:1). “The one who shows honor and respect to others.” That is, your honor and respect do not depend on how others treat you. Rather, the more honor and respect that you express to others, the more honorable you yourself are. We all want to be treated with basic respect. As we internalize the essential message of the Sages, we will decrease our concern about how others treat us and we will increase our concern about how we treat others.
Be an honorable person. Show honor and respect in words and actions to others. Make this such an integral part of who you are that this is your spontaneous way of speaking and acting. Respect starts with your thoughts. Realize that each person is created in the Almighty’s image. Each person has a soul with great potential. Each person has qualities that can be respected.
The more difficult it is to treat someone with respect, the more honorable you are. Let this motivate you to experience an inner respect to even the most challenging people with whom you interact. Even if you haven’t treated someone with the respect due to each human and are already in the midst of a quarrel, by accessing a respectful way of thinking, speaking and acting you will be able to find a solution to quarrels that arise.
(Reproduced from "Harmony" by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, with permission of the copyright holders,
ArtScroll / Mesorah Publications, Ltd.)
Story: (based on a true story)
Patience may be a virtue but somehow I was granted very little of it. Whether it was from some childhood experience, my desire for perfection or a nature that is hyper sensitive to time, I struggle with my ability to wait for others to get things done. I used to pride myself on it. The phrase “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it” could have been coined for me. Honestly, I probably would not even have realized there was an issue with my attitude had a particular incident not happened.
We started talking about the holiday party at work when someone remarked, “I think we should put Mindy in charge. She’s great at getting everyone involved…even if things don’t end up being perfect.” What was THAT supposed to mean? Wasn’t I the one who organized everything around here? Didn’t I make sure that we were never out of supplies, kept everything in place and ensured meetings ran on time? I tried to conceal my hurt feelings but I guess faking isn’t one of my strong virtues either.
“Mindy?” I questioned to myself. “Why would they want Mindy over me?” Mindy was a really easy going type who always made others feel good but she was also a bit scatter brained. She didn’t have such an eye for fashion but was able to pull an outfit together in her own unique way.
The woman who suggested that Mindy run the party called me later on that night.
“Hi…I noticed you were a little quiet today and I just wanted to explain myself. You are always so good about organizing all the office parties but I felt that we should give Mindy a chance also” she explained.
I wasn’t taking that for an answer. I felt there was more to the story and I let her know.
“Okay, well honestly, I’ll tell you because I care about you and you probably should know this anyway. Somehow after people interact with Mindy, they end up feeling good about themselves. She always points out their positive qualities and is sensitive to others’ insecurities. Even though things may not run as smoothly as if you were in charge, I think everyone appreciates the good feelings she exudes while getting the job done.”
This conversation happened a year ago. I have learned and noticed a lot about myself since then. In my drive to “finish” and maintain my reputation as “the productive one” I often ended up subtly slighting others and speaking disrespectfully. Even though I do enjoy finishing a task on time and being known as the competent one, I now try to stay focused on the overall goal of respecting others so everyone feels appreciated and acknowledged.
How can one deal with people who aren’t as competent as they’d like without disrespecting them?
How should we approach someone who speaks disrespectfully to others without the awareness of the ramifications of their words?
Have you ever had the experience of speaking with respect to someone you don’t like and then come to like them?
Stretch of the Week:
Notice and comment on the good qualities of a person whom you may not be fond of.