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This is one of a
articles in Lesson 2 - learn communication basics and seven
to get more daily needs met more often. Progress with this Lesson
depends on concurrent progress on Lesson 1 - free your resident
true Self to
guide you in calm and conflictual times.
This brief YouTube clip summarizes what you'll find in this article.
The viideo me2ntions eight lesso0ns in this self-improvement Web site - I've
simplified that to seven.
describes the most powerful and least noticed of four
signals communication partners automatically decode from each other -
R(espect) messages. The article assumes you're familiar with...
the intro to this
nonprofit Web site and the premises underlying it
Any perceived human
behavior that causes an emotional,
spiritual, or physical change in another
person is communication. Living things
communicate to fill
needs - i.e. to reduce or avoid discomforts.
Infants, kids, and adults semi-consciously decode up to
four messages at once
from each other
- what you feel + think + need + and how you feel about you
and me now. These messages are interpreted from our face and voice dynamics
and body language as we communicate.
All kids and adults need to feel respected by themselves and each
people feel inferior to or disrespected by their communication partners,
may rise "above their ears," and their abilities to
and communicate effectively can plummet.
Starting in infancy, we instinctively interpret signals from our eyes, ears,
and skin to judge how our communication partners feel about us at the
moment. We unconsciously decode others' eyes, faces, bodies, and
sounds (including silence) to mean one of...
"I'm 1-up (superior) to you
right now. My needs, opinions, worth, and welfare are more important to me
than yours are." 1-up messages are implied when another person's
awareness bubble seems to exclude us now or over time. The extreme form of a 1-up R-message is
decoded as "You're not aware of my feelings and needs - I don't exist."
silently judge that the other
"I'm 1-down (inferior) to you
now.Your needs, opinions, worth, and welfare are more important to me
than mine are." Someone who's behavior implies this
R-message can focus mainly on their
partner's thoughts, feelings, needs, and actions (a 1-person awareness
bubble). If this is chronic, it suggests
the condition of
(relationship addiction) - a common symptom of psychological
Communication is most apt to be effective
if each partner steadily decodes this:
"I feel we're equals in human dignity
and worth now. I rank your needs, opinions, worth, and welfare as being
just as important as mine." When partners share this
attitude, they can be said to exchange
Most people (like you?) aren't
the R-messages they exchange, and how powerfully they affect
communication outcomes and relationships.
adults and kids often
unconsciously misinterpret other people's
behaviors to mean "I-m 1-up. I don't respect or care about you now."
Then their personality subselves
react with hurt, resentment, aggression, and/or withdrawal.
survivors of childhood neglect
(GWCs) will earnestly
say "I respect and care about
you," but their non-verbal behavior says "My
needs, opinions, and worth are more important to me than yours are."If chronic or
denied, this kind of confusing
double message degrades communication
and relationships. Personal
raises self respect and compassion, and reduces double messages over time.
In any relationship,
there are different respect "zones" or levels. Depending on our
roles, expectations, and values, we can feel (dis)respect for someone...
as a whole person ("I don't respect Pat at
as a female or male, boy or girl, or a man
or woman; or...
in one or more social roles, like mate,
parent, sibling, friend, co-worker, boss, neighbor, salesperson, voter,
service-provider, customer, client, stranger, foreigner, authority, etc.
("Max is a good person and father, and an irresponsible mechanic.")
So one person may respect another as, say, a
human, man, woman, and/or a Muslim, and disrespect them as a sister,
co-worker, citizen, lawyer, and so on.
In important cases, using awareness
and metatalk skills to discern
what respect zone is causing 1-up or 1-down R-messages can help to
spot and solve communication problems.
you want to improve your communication
effectiveness, start paying
to (a) the R-messages you receive and send, and (b) the results - who
gets their communication and other needs met?
Are you motivated to do this now?
"No" may mean you're dominated
by a well-meaning false self. If you are motivated, see Lesson 1.
If you perceive significant 1-up or 1-down R-messages
from a communication partner, You can...
do nothing, and accept the communication and
relationship effects of this attitude; or you can...
wonder if you're doing something unconscious
that promotes the other person's disrespect - e.g. you
can wonder what R-message s/he is receiving from
- ask the other person ("Are you feeling respected enough by me
now and over time?") If appropriate, ask about one or more respect
zones. ("Are you feeling respected enough by me as a man and as a piano
teacher?") Be alert for a polite
Or you can...
awareness-bubbles you're exchanging. Significant 1-up and 1-down R-messages
are often promoted by a 1-person or no-person bubble - which is a
symptom of a disabled true Self. Option - use
awareness, metatalk, and
empathic listening to seek spontaneous (vs. dutiful) mutual 2-person bubbles;
notice (a) how you feel about the other
person, and (b) how receiving these messages affects you.
Typically, implied 1-up and 1-down R-messages cause irritation, hurt,
frustration, resentment, and perhaps aggression or distancing in the
receiver - specially if the sender denies the non-equal respect
attitudes. All of these diminish
communication effectiveness. Once you notice these two things, you
decide whether to use an assertive
I-message with your partner,
factually describing (a) the R-message you're getting and (b) how it
affects you. That might sound like...
"(Name), I'm feeling disrespected by you
"Name, I feel like you're putting my
needs / opinions / worth above your own right now - and that makes me
uncomfortable." Or you may ask...
"(Name), whose needs are most important
to you now - yours or mine?" The best answer is "I feel your needs
and mine are equally important."
Doing this can lead to win-win
problem-solving if you're both motivated, guided by your Selves, and
know the seven Lesson-2
If these 1-up or 1-down R-messages are frequent, your partner is probably
ruled by a well-meaning, myopic false self. See this
article after you finish here for
What if You
Don't Respect Someone?
No matter how you try to disguise disrespect in some zone,
your behaviors will "leak" your
attitude, and the other
person will sense it. In deciding how to handle disrespect, you have several choices:
stay aware that once it's lost, respect must be earned.It
cannot be demanded, assumed, or expected. Can you name the criteria you
use to award respect to other people (or yourself)?
decide whether your
is guiding you, or if other subselves are causing the disrespect. Your Self will
and compassion rather than disapproval, and will
respectfully assert opinions or boundaries to reduce any discomfort you
identify what zones your disrespect applies
to, and decide whether to be honest
about your attitude, rather than pretend and send a double message.
If you choose honesty, recall the principles of offering effective
feedback to another person - including the idea that respectful feedback with no hidden
agendas is a gift, not an attack or ploy;
typical "I"-message: "(Name), your
voice-tone, facial expressions, and eye contact suggest to me that you
don't feel we're of equal dignity and worth as persons. This distracts
me from hearing you very well, and I wonder if you'll talk with me about
"(Name), I'm getting a lot of 1-up (or
1-down) Respect messages from you now, and it's distracting me from
hearing you very well. Will you talk with me about this?"
typical meta-comment: "(Name),
I'm experiencing you as having a 1-person awareness bubble as we
talk (and I'm feeling excluded by you)."
See this article on
respect for more
perspective after you finish this one.
Do you agree that all adults and kids steadily need to feel enough
self-respect and social respect? If not, this concept and article will be of
little use. If so, does the idea of automatically decoding non/verbal
R(espect)-messages in all important social situations make sense to you? To see if
it does, try describing and illustrating the concept to another person. Then
describe why the concept is useful in assessing communication effectiveness.
Also decide if you're willing to
start practicing R-message
awareness with key adults and kids in your life. If
so, stay aware that doing
so is not about fault-finding, it's about learning to notice a dynamic that
can potentially block effective communication.
This applies equally to
communication among your
dedicated subselves! If you're not willing to practice this awareness, suspect
that your wise true Self is disabled.
Option - widen your perspective by learning about the powerful
sequences and patterns. R-messages are one of seven or eight key dynamics that affect most internal
and social communication outcomes.
Is there anyone else whom you think would benefit from knowing this
Pause, breathe, and recall why you read this article. Did you get what you
needed? If not - what do you need? Who's answering these questions - your
true Self (capital "S") or