There’s a classic scene in “The Godfather” when Michael Corleone confronts his younger brother Fredo, after learning that it was he that was responsible for the hit Hyman Roth attempted to take out on him. The part I’m referring to specifically is when Fredo exclaims, “I can handle things! I’m smart! Not like everybody says…like dumb! I’m smart and I want respect!”.
While I understand how Fredo feels, what he didn’t seem to realize, (and what Michael clearly, by being named the successor to Don Corleone upon his passing,) is that if you want true respect, you shouldn’t ever have to ask for it. If you’re a manly man, like myself, you already know this.
The thing about respect, it’s something we all want, yet, as Fredo, or anyone else who feels disrespected will tell you, if you’re not getting your due in that department, getting it is not as easy as it seems. Why? There’s only three ways you can get respect. By demanding it. By commanding it. And by earning it.
Of the three, demanding it is the easiest way to get respect, and, as such, it’s also the one way of getting respect that has the greatest likelihood of being based on pure bullshit. If you work for a living, you may have been in a position of having to respect someone just because, being your boss, they’re the person who determines your fate. So you respect these douches out of self preservation.
Now, this person could be the world’s absolute biggest asshole and the most incompetent hoofwanking bunglecunt on the planet, and yet, just because they’re your boss you have to play along and pretend you look up to them – when what you’d really like to do is sneak up behind them in the parking lot and go all Whitey Bulger on their ass.
Commanding respect happens when your actions, reputation or achievements – or all of the above, leave anyone who breathes the same air no choice but to bow down and give you all the reverence you have coming to you. Think Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, Steve Jobs, Neil deGrasse Tyson, John Wooden, Bruce Lee, Warren Buffet, the girl who popped your cherry, etc. Those are the kinds of individuals to whom much respect is given and always will be – and rightly so.
Earned respect occurs when people are witnesses to why they should respect you. Through hard work, commitment, perseverance, ass-kicking, or whatever. This is the kind of respect most of us encounter in our daily lives being around those we admire or at least recognize as having given us legitimate reasons for us to put them on a pedestal.
The moral of the story is, if you want true respect, you have to show those who you want to respect you a little respect first. And remember, whatever you do, never tell someone you deserve respect. If you have to say it, they’ll only give you the kind of respect you demand – and that is to say none at all.