Demanding Respect Doesn't Work and 5 ways Respect can be Earned

Have a hard time dealing with condescension and disrespect?  How we respond to negative treatment says a lot about us and our insecurities, a lesson I have learned the hard way.


I have respect issues. Nothing pushes my buttons like condescension and dismissal. Disrespect and ridicule are a common part of medical training and I did not handle it very well. Disrespect is particularly common in surgeons. I did not appreciate their arrogance and made it a point to defend myself. One interaction I had with a rude gynecologic oncologist became well known throughout my med school class.
In my third year at UCI (University of California Irvine) Medical School I was assigned to be the "second assistant" for a hysterectomy, which means I was given the privilege of standing by the patient's feet while the surgeon and OB-Gyn resident performed the surgery. Like a 4 year-old child at a dinner party, second assistants are to be seen and not heard. Nothing was said to me for the 90 minute procedure. Nothing. No instruction, no description of the procedure, no background on the patient's history, not a word until the case was wrapping up, at which time the attending looked over at me and asked, "So Bart, where did you get your undergraduate degree?"
"UCI," I replied, surprised to be noticed.
"Oh, another f----ing Irvine-Irvine student. Like we need another one of those!"
My anti-disrespect mechanism kicked in immediately. Game on.
"Where did you go to medical school?" I asked innocently.
"I went to UC Davis," he responded with pride.
"I applied to Davis," I said, "but I did not get in." Pause for effect, then- "They told me I wasn't dumb enough."
End of conversation. Game over.
As we left the operating room the resident called me aside, "You can't do that!"
I was firm in my response, "I didn't start it, but I finished it!" I did pay a small price for my attitude, if for my grade in that clinical rotation I would have gotten straight A's that year. My inability to tolerate disrespect cost me.
I can say from experience that a young person desiring respect will find that a chip on the shoulder and a biting wit do not bring the desired result.
So how can a young person gain respect? How does one establish themselves as a person of value, someone who can lead and be admired? The Apostle Paul gave his young protege Timothy valuable counsel in this regard, 2000 year old advice that still resonates to day.
1 Timothy 4:12 "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity."
Paul gave 5 ways that Timothy could demonstrate maturity and leadership-
Speech- watch what you say and how you say it. Mature people know when to speak and when not to, what to say and when to say it.
Conduct- mature people act with maturity. They control their temper and act responsibly.
Love- Mature people put others before themselves and are characterized by kindness and service.
Faith- I have seen that a life lived based on genuine faith is an admirable one. When your life is consistent with your values people notice.
Purity- So many young people bounce from one sexual relationship to the next. Those that pursue purity set themselves apart.

Hmmm. I need to follow this advice! While my quick tempered tongue can silence a critic, it is the quality of my life that gains me respect!