With All Due Respect

Have you ever used the phrase, “With all due respect?” You have haven’t used it yourself you may have heard it in a TV program, probably uttered by an indignant subordinate unsuccessfully attempting to assert him- or herself, or perhaps two attorneys vying for position in a heated discussion.

It is what we hear after “With all due respect…” that is more telling than the phrase itself. What follows the phrase is frequently anything but respectful. Often those words are just what precedes one person telling another that they are full of it and their comments, logic, reasoning or beliefs are totally ridiculous.

Respect? Hardly. “With all due respect…” is just a political correct, formal or pseudo-polite way of telling someone else they are off their rocker (or worse). It’s also a bit of a cop-out. Why? Because by using it the person is tip-toeing around what might be a very controversial or confrontational situation. It is a passive/aggressive technique that can be used to serve up a double, sugar-coated exclamation of bile, with a knife-in-the-back chaser. Using the phrase sets us up as being above the situation, but there’s one big problem with that: Setting yourself up high without a firm foundation upon which to stand is a recipe for being knocked down – with or without politeness.

How do you disagree with someone without being disagreeable or cause further confrontation? Using “With all due respect…” is an offensive maneuver, challenging the other person by promoting our own agenda over theirs. There are another ways, which are neither offensive nor defensive.

One method is to simply say, “Really?” Understand that the voice inflection on that one word can make a world of difference! It must be a sincere query into the statement of the other person, not accompanied by an acerbic smirk. Another way is to make an inquiry about the statement. “Tell me more”, “Is that really how you feel?”, or “What makes you think that?” are all excellent ways to indicate we are listening to the other person and sincerely interested in their viewpoint.

We will never agree with everyone all the time. It is our differences and diversity that create a full, colorful and vibrant world. Learning to live with those differences of opinion, decorating styles and choices of lifestyles will enable us to live peaceful yet exciting lives.

With Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

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