How to kindly deal with disrespectful people?
Updated: Aug 4, 2021
Everyone loves to be respected but not everyone knows how to respect others.
One thing I truly value is respect and that’s why I respect everyone, even those that have done me wrong and those that don’t give a second to appreciate the respect I have over them.
I respect because everyone deserves to be treated with respect but, I am not going to lie and tell you that it's a pretty simple thing to do, every time.
Sometimes, it gets kind of hard and frustrating when you are out there respecting everyone and there’s always that person who shows you no respect at all, not even an ounce.
I know that it’s not their obligation to respect me and that I shouldn’t expect everyone to have the same values as myself, but dang (!), it can truly frustrate me to the bone when I am constantly disrespected by people.
And it also hurts, especially when the shower of disrespect comes from those you deeply love.
You know, it was sort of a default thing to expect those closest to you, those who share precious moments with you, to be the ones who would respect you the most but, well, reality didn't quite click that well with my expectations.
It kinda slapped me hard on the face. Many times actually. . .
It took a few slaps from reality for me to begin to understand that, hey, maybe I was expecting far too much from a lot of people, and that maybe I was expecting them to hold dearly to the same values as myself.
I was expecting them to respect me as I respected them, to act towards me as I acted towards them and I don't really believe that's how things work.
I can't expect people to be like me because God didn't make them to be like me but like Jesus.
God didn't make us equal, and even though I have had moments whereby I forgot about that, I know that I just can't go around expecting to be like me. . .
They weren't made to be like me therefore, I might (and have) encounter people that hold to the same beliefs as myself, the same values, morals and all that bunch as myself, and instead of piling up resentment like I had been doing, these are some of the ways I am working on dealing with disrespectful people:
Figure out their intentions
Sometimes, people are not disrespectful on purpose and they barely notice what they have done and how much it affected you.
For instance, I have had moments whereby people have come far too deep into my personal space or have told someone something embarrassing or too personal about myself as a joke.
Of course, it triggers a defence mode in me when I have my personal matters just blurted out like to people I don't feel comfortable in knowing about it but, now, I try to bite my tongue for a while and ponder for a bit.
You see, sometimes people try to impress others or just be funny and it slips past their better mouths things that shouldn't have been shared, regardless if they are funny to others, and it hurts you. It hurt me.
I know for sure that I have gotten people into a tough spot by just blurting out information that I definitely shouldn't have and I have felt like digging my own grave after it.
I know mistakes like those happen a lot of times so, when I feel disrespected in those situations, I want to work on privately confronting the person and getting everything sorted out.
I know, I know - a whole lot even - how easy and less suffocating it is (at first0 to just lash out there and then and make sure everyone know that you didn't quite like it how things were going down or what was said.
Yeah, impulsiveness loves to make an appearance when we are hurt yet, with it we tend to see harshness, and harsh words or actions hurt people.
We don't want to hurt people.
We are children of God. We are called to love people, not hurt them, and even though at the moment we might feel supercharged to just lash out and make ourselves heard, trust me when I say that it isn't the best way to go about things.
It hurts to hurt people - at least for me.
Whenever I lash out, I feel at ease, at first, but then, the acidic feeling sits on my chest and begins to eat my heart dry as I ponder on what I had just done and acknowledge that there were far better ways to handle the situation.
I believe that the best way to do it is to confront the person privately and let them know how you feel about what they did or said. If they don't listen to you, that may be the right time to get someone else to try and defuse the situation.
"If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love."
- Matthew 18:15-17 MSG
Although the Scripture above applies to sin between Christians, it inspired me to also deal with sin against non-Christians who have hurt or disrespected me.
It inspired me to not lash out and confront the person privately, and I think that's a good way about getting things sorted.
Determine if it’s worth addressing them
However, while some may disrespect and hurt you unintentionally, others will gladly do it.
Yes, sweets, some people might intentionally disrespect you in order to get a reaction out of you and/or probably paint a distorted picture of yourself to others, amongst other reasons.
When you know that someone is disrespecting you in order to rile you up, cause you to trip and sin (for our anger may lead us to sin), just walk away and go calm yourself down.
It can be super hard sometimes, like crazy hard, to just let someone get away with dragging your name through the mud like that but, we have to ask God, even if it has to be in tears, to give us the wisdom, strength and heart to just walk away from situations that could go haywire.
I have had moments whereby I was so ready to shut someone up for lying about me, disrespecting me, hurting me or just something that really didn't sit well with me but, I had chosen to bite my tongue, silently feel the bubbling anger in me simmer down as I asked God (cried within, too) to give me patience and man more other things.
It stings for a while, my pride hates it when I don't try to address something that hurt it but, sometimes it's better to just walk away from things.
I think something fries in the other person's system when they willingly disrespect you to get a reaction but you just walk away or shrug it off.
It can be hard sometimes, sometimes I feel the urge to cry or something, but it's best to know which battles to fight.
We can't be addressing every single disrespectful act towards us. We are better than that.
Know which battles are worth fighting.
Disarm them with kindness
As mentioned above, some people might disrespect you in order to get you all bothered and act impulsively.
Another way of addressing that, besides walking away, is by killing them with kindness.
Oh yes, instead of lashing out and aggravating things, take a breather and pray to God to have His love pouring out of you towards whoever has hurt you.
It will probably baffle them and even you, sometimes.
Yes, there have been times that I have been kind to disrespectful people and had myself amazed by that. It showed me that God was and still is at work in me.
As the Bible says:
"Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body"
- Proverbs 16:24
Kind words tend to defuse sour moments and refresh the body and soul. Use this beautiful virtue God has given us to deal with disrespectful and hurtful people.
So maybe you have been disrespected by the same person more than a dozen times and you have had it.
You tried talking to them, you followed the tips above and the person doesn’t seem to be getting the memo at all.
You don’t want to be rude and much less disrespectful yet, you want people to start respecting you, even if it is for a second, but you don’t really know what to do.
Feels chaotic in that head and heart of yours, doesn't it?
Well, there are these things called boundaries that I used to be afraid to set but now I embrace them.
Relationship boundaries, like any other, set the great guidelines to how you want to be treated and if you set healthy boundaries with those that disrespect you, you will be saving you both a lot of trouble.
In the beginning, people might think that you are being too strict and too much, so you must ignore them and set those boundaries anyway.
Boundaries are like saying to people: beyond this line, sorrows lie.
Lol, just kidding. Not really but, yeah. . .
Boundaries are like telling me that there are lines that they should no cross if they wish to keep things sweet, or at least civil, between you two.
If they cross them, you confront them but, with kindness and patience that God provides.
And remember that we, humans, make lots of mistakes.
Sometimes we forget to be kind or patient. Sometimes we lash out or hurt people back.
Sometimes we forget our identity in Christ and do and behave as if we weren't His.
Sometimes we don't listen to the Holy Spirit and tune our ears to our sinful instincts, and we get burnt.
So, when you slip, when you fail to be kind, it will probably hurt you will probably feel sick but, don't beat yourself up so bad.
Go to God. He will always be there to take your hand, pull you away from drowning and transform that heart of yours.
God is freaking amazing and His love is just. . . WOW!
He will heal you. He will help you and He will always love you.