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R.E.S.P.E.C.T. – find out what it means and can do


R.E.S.P.E.C.T. – find out what it means and can do

LINDA FITZGIBBON discovers that despite what we may see in the media, many of those in the younger generations know what respect looks like and aren’t afraid to call out disrespectful behaviour.

I was talking to my niece the other day, and she said that someone had ‘dissed’ her. I was curious. Was this a good thing? A bad thing?

As I didn’t know, I asked her, and learnt that it’s a colloquial term meaning disrespect – a bad thing. I am not sure when this ‘word’ was coined, but  according to my niece, all Gen Zs and millennials use this word to describe when they feel disrespected.

Recognising what disrespect looks and feels like are aspects of having healthy boundaries and then relationships, my niece told me with some seriousness. I was impressed. I began to wonder, if the Gen Zers and millennials know about disrespect, do they also know about respect? What do people of every age understand about respect?

My niece was right there, so I asked her. “Well, eh, it’s different for everyone,” was the reply.

Is this what school teachers talk about? There’s no respect for them anymore. Is this why there are signs in shops about not serving people who are disrespectful and abusive? I’m not sure. Is respect different for everyone?

My niece and I fell into a deep conversation. What is respect? We decided that it is an attitude of honouring the human dignity of people while caring about their rights. After much discussion, we decided what respect looks like. As the old adage goes: treating others as we would want others to treat us. Also, having our property, boundaries and values recognised and prized.

My niece and I thought that respect would feel very liberating.

That’s because with respect, we are valued, our dignity is important, and our belongings are protected.

Where is respect and where does it come from? These were questions that we discussed as well. We decided that it is still not a cliché to suggest that spirituality is the sacred within: we all have the capacity to develop respect. It is inside of us.

When I was younger, it was uncommon to ask for respect. This word wasn’t used in conversation, nor relative to relationships. Equally, no one used ‘dissed’.

I’m beyond glad that the word ‘respect’ is now used, and that disrespect is called out. The power of these words and associated attitude and behaviours will make our lives and communities safer and happier places. I am happy with the cultural change. May it continue.

On April 25, Australia commemorates Anzac Day: a day of remembrance, and a day where we can all practise deep respect for the Anzac legacy, as all of us deserve respect, and we can practise honouring human dignity and this tradition.

We don’t have to buy a poppy, but it’s wonderful if we do. We don’t have to go to a dawn service, but it’s wonderful if we do. We don’t have to play two-up, but it’s fun if we do. In line with language change and cultural change, we can all practise respect.

 Linda Fitzgibbon has a PhD in Applied Linguistics, and is a trained and experienced facilitator with the Virtues Project™. Linda is now retired, and lives on the Sunshine Coast. She can be contacted at

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