Respect seems to be a difficult concept for many people. I hear all the time about people being disrespected by their parents, spouses, relatives, friends and when I point out that they were disrespected the response I get is, "Oh that's not disrespect, that's just how they are."
"That's just how they are."
People seem to have become so inured to being disrespected that they can't even identify when they're being treated so. Like the woman who told me that her father called her a liar in front of her kids. Obvious disrespect - but she said, he just has "a bad temper." That's not just a bad temper that's not having respect. But this woman and so many like her are so attached to the idea that people who "love" them must be respectful - by default - that they deny when they are, in fact disrespectful.
So what does respect look like, then? I think respect looks like the following: a) listening without interrupting, b) responding to what someone is actually saying and not what you think they're saying, c) being honest and disclosed (no attitude), d) no name calling, e) no low-blows, f) staying for the entire conversation, g) making room for someone to disagree with you, to have their own way of doing or seeing something, h) no eye rolling or huffing and puffing, and most importantly i) not coming up with your retort while the other person is still speaking and expressing their thoughts. Sound like a high bar? I guess it might be, but I think it's necessary to show respect in your behavior towards another person and these elements are part of what makes that up.
In my book, if someone isn't dealing with you in this way that I've described above, they are being disrespectful towards you and you have every right to protect yourself however you need to. You can try and point out to them how they are engaging unfairly with you. You can excuse yourself from being in relation to them. You could explain how you would like to be treated. I've inquired on a number of occasions, "Why are you talking to me with that tone in your voice? It seems really disrespectful." Just plain, direct inquiry. And most of the time I get something like an "Oh, sorry, I'm just upset." And then the tone goes away. I can imagine tons of situations in which that wouldn't work, but for me, it has at times.
Respect is also, as I mentioned above, allowing other people to be different from you. To think differently from you. To do things differently than you would do them. That's respecting someone's individuality. This is particularly hard for parents with their kids. Or older siblings with their younger siblings. But it's so important. By accepting that not everyone is going to do things like you, you give people the freedom to be themselves around you, you learn who they really are and you gain their trust.
Respect leads to trust.
And trust is such a critical part of relationships. Some people say that it's the foundation of them. But I think that respect comes first. If you can not respect another person, you can not build a relationship where trust is generated.