As a nation we are currently in the midst of our quadrennial tradition of determining our next president. A disappointing trend that seems to be occurring more often with our honored tradition is a loss of respect that candidates and their supporters publicly have for one another.
As such, people are resorting to vulgar and mean-spirited words that seem to belittle the very office that is being sought after. There seems to be no boundaries. As it has been said, words can be used to build people up, but they also can be used to tear people down. Learning to be cordial and respectful towards others is an important and necessary trait both in our intimate and interpersonal relationships.
Word-renowned couples’ therapist John Gottman encourages all couples to cultivate a culture of appreciation in their relationship. Gottman describes the culture of appreciation as being the opposite of contempt. According to Gottman, contempt is one of the four destructive patterns (which he calls the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse) that leads to mutual dissatisfaction, and if not resolved, the ending of the relationship itself.
Per Gottman, contempt includes such things as threats, name calling and insults. There is often an underlying mindset in a contemptuous person that they are better, know better and the other person is beneath them. In order to have a satisfying (i.e., successful) relationship, Gottman encourages all couples to be intentional about how they are treating each other.
While Gottman focused his attention on couples in relationships, the concept of cultivating a culture of appreciation can apply to other relationships as well. A Harvard Business Review article from a few years back encouraged those in the business field to foster a culture of gratitude. The key point is that people do not always have to agree but they need to show respect to each other.
Our current politicians might not be setting the proper example of how to show respect, but we can all make things better in our individual lives if we commit ourselves to being intentional in demonstrating appreciation towards others. As a fisherman once said, “Show proper respect to everyone.”
By Brian Wingfield
Featured In Odessa American Online