View Full Version : Do You Respect Someone You Don't Like (or vice versa)?

11-06-2011, 06:44 AM
My MC is struggling with garnering respect from people. I've been doing some exploratory exercises for myself but when I asked myself the following questions, it occurred to me that I don't like anyone I don't respect. So...

Tell me about why you might like someone, but not respect them.

Or, tell me about why you might respect someone, but not like them.

11-06-2011, 06:53 AM
To be honest, I can't think of any instance where if I didn't respect someone that I'd like them.

But there are cases where I don't necessarily like someone (they might be a callous jerk or an asshole), but I can still respect them for either their knowledge, their professional abilities, or athletic skills.

11-06-2011, 07:17 AM
Maybe it's my particular pathology, but I'd say it's possible to like someone without respecting them because that person may be sexist, racist, judgmental in whatever way, but they can also be:

sexually attractive
very intelligent
your parent/sibling

11-06-2011, 11:34 AM
I don't see it as respecting someone you don't like. For me, it's about respecting myself and my beliefs, for being me. If I don't like someone, I can still respect them for their good qualities, which reflects back on me -- respecting myself for trying to be a respectful person, regardless of what life and other people throw at me.

11-06-2011, 02:23 PM
It really depends on how you define respect. Do you mean respect their abilities or treat them respectfully?

Familiarity breeds contempt and there are plenty of marriages and partnerships that have failed because of disrespectful treatment (rather than a lack of love).

11-06-2011, 02:45 PM
Yes, I think you can. I have an ex boss I disliked immensely as a person, but I respected that he knew his job and was very good at it. That respect was the only reason I could work with him.

11-06-2011, 03:47 PM
I like lots of people without respecting them. Because they are scum. But likeable scum.

Drunks, people like that. In some ways, I suppose, you have to respect their dedication to messing up their lives as badly as possible, but their opinions, their ideas, and that stuff. No. Can't respect it. It's all absolute rubbish that they thought of while lying face down in a pile of vomit.
But I can like them. They are like amusing but naughty children. I couldn't live with them without killing them, but I can like them.

It's harder to respect someone I don't like. It's possible, but really, it rankles.

11-06-2011, 05:42 PM
Respect but not like, sure. The other way is harder. The less I respect someone, the less I seem to like them. I have known people who were kind and well-meaning, whom I liked without necessarily respecting them any more than the average run of human being. But if I think poorly of someone; if someone's behaved badly, it's hard to like them.

Of course, you have to define "like." There are people I could have coffee with, and enjoy it, without necessarily liking them.

I guess I would include a measure of respect in "like." If you're good company, fun to be with, and mean to your kids, I can't like you.

11-06-2011, 05:42 PM
I can show respect for someone without feeling respect.

Liking someone, for me, means I feel affection for them and a desire to spend time with them.

Respect is closer to admiration, wanting to be like them. It can be remote, as in a professional respect for a writer I've never met.

Liking comes when I get to know a person intimately.

11-06-2011, 05:49 PM
The best example that I can think of in respecting but not liking is warring generals, like the way Grant supposedly talked about Lee and Jackson.

Grant's troops hated him and called him, "The Butcher," but they respected him enough (or maybe feared him enough) that they followed his orders.

When you personally know the other person involved in a non-professional situation the borders start to blend more.

11-06-2011, 05:51 PM
There are a couple of people I have massive respect for, but can't be left in the same room with them without bloodshed occurring. Really, really talented people who have changed the way I look at things, but are so obnoxious and self-conceited that I want to throttle them. Liking people without respecting them? Nope - can't imagine hanging around with anyone who doesn't command my respect long enough to find out if they are okay folks or not.

L.C. Blackwell
11-06-2011, 09:21 PM
There are a couple of people I have massive respect for, but can't be left in the same room with them without bloodshed occurring.

Yeah, that's about right. :D

I can tolerate people I don't respect, but I can't like them, or even want to be around them.

On the other hand, I've known a type-A who was a world class pain in the neck--and I did respect him for professionalism, dedication to his job, actually caring about other people's safety, etc. Didn't mean he was fun to work with, and I certainly wouldn't say I liked him much. But I had a lot of respect for him, even though he had certainly missed his calling as a drill sergeant.

11-06-2011, 11:50 PM
I do both, frequently. I had several professors I didn't like personally but whom I respected very much. Same with a few bosses.

I also know folks who are very funny or well-meaning whom I don't really respect, just because they haven't figured out how to behave yet, lol. It's the trying that makes me like them. Oh, I wouldn't depend on them to save my life. I probably don't trust them around the valuables. But they are funny and enjoyable over a cup of coffee ;)

11-07-2011, 12:34 AM
I can respect people for their talents/intelligence even if I don't like them. (Usually because they have abrasive personalities...) But I would respect them more if they were likable.

I'm not sure if I can like someone I can't respect at all. Can't think of any examples...

11-07-2011, 01:09 AM
Generally if I don't like someone I don't respect them. I might pretend to but that's just external.

On the flipside that doesn't mean I don't respect parts of them. But dislike generally means the whole is off for me.

Siri Kirpal
11-07-2011, 03:05 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I had to think about this one.

I once taught yoga & meditation to convicted criminals. I liked them, and I respected that they were doing something worthwhile with their time, but I certainly did not respect the choices they'd made that put them there.

Until recently, I might have told you that I could respect people I disliked. I could think of several....but....those people have recently been caught with the goods (ie they've done some pretty bad things), so I neither respect nor like them now. And it may be that I can't like people who appear to be respectable, but aren't.


Siri Kirpal

11-07-2011, 03:08 AM
I've done both. I respect quite a lot of people that I don't like. I respect them for certain qualities they have. Like being good at their jobs. Or passionate about certain things. But I still think they are a pain in the arse as a person.

And I can like someone I have no respect for. Working in pubs brings you into contact with quite a few of these.

I remember one bloke who, before he got drunk, was funny and charming and likeable. Once he got drunk, he turned into an arse. So I liked him not drunk but had no respect for him because he didn't know when to stop. He hadn't grown up.

11-07-2011, 05:28 AM
It depends on your definition of respect. I'd say it's definitely possible, albeit rare. For example, I'd respect an enemy if they fought honourably and skillfully.

11-07-2011, 05:41 AM
It depends on the type of respect and the type of like/dislike. I find that if I respect someone, I usually like them on some level. But that doesn't necessarily mean I never find them annoying or difficult.

But for me, respect has less to do with whether I like someone or not and more to do with how I see their character. If I feel like someone is of poor character, I usually won't like them, and I usually won't respect them, either -- though I may have respect for particular traits they have.

All this refers to real people. With fictional characters, it's different for me because they're fictional.

11-07-2011, 05:49 AM
You know, this thread reminds me of the two times in the past year I've had major fallings-out with friends. Except...neither are friends any longer.

The first one just turned into a bitch-on-wheels, flaunted new friendships, failed to give me credit for work I'd put in to certain projects, ignored me while replying to every comment made by other people, and as she'd bitched about people behind their backs, I fully expect her to have treated me in the same way.

The second friendship broke up due to the other person's not respecting my desire to handle a difficult time in my life in my own way. I wanted to hide and lick my wounds; she was an attention-whore who couldn't stand to lose a member of her fanclub, even temporarily. This illustrated to me how selfish she was. In the end I got an insulting, borderline abusive email from her, accusing me of being a bad friend...and why? Because I'd asked to be left alone while I dealt with some shit I had to deal with. Maybe she's got abandonment issues, I don't know.

Anyway. I'm rambling, but there's a point to all this. While speaking to someone the other day, I remember saying, "A was a total bitch about the whole situation and that's why no-one likes her and B was pretty much the same, but at least B had the balls to speak to me directly. Okay, by email. She was talking a load of bollocks but she didn't go behind my back. I have to respect that, at least."

Respect, to me, is like love. It must be earned, and it can still remain even when you don't like the person very much.

I said earlier that respect is a kind of admiration, and I'd like to clarify -- I can admire something a person does, respect a certain aspect of their personality, without liking them 100%. Does that make sense?

11-07-2011, 07:14 AM
I can like someone on a personal level that I don't respect on a professional level, and I can respect someone on a professional level that I don't like on a personal level.
("Professional" could be swapped for a variety of qualities)

Once we belonged to a saddle club on base. Generally speaking, most of the horse owners were wives of active duty. Only active duty could be on the board that made decisions regarding the club, so essentially the board knew nothing about what actually went on day to day, other than what their wives told them.

One day a woman I shall call Horse Sense, and another, Precious Flower, had a falling out.
Precious Flower was angry and embarrassed by something Horse Sense said, and decided that she would get back by getting members who didn't like Horse Sense to trump up a bunch of charges against her so they could kick her out of the club. (I had liked PF on a personal level, up until she pulled this junior high stunt)

Now Horse Sense didn't like me, but I saw first hand that she knew her stuff, and was dedicated and ethical (not to mention the stuff being used against her was absolutely untrue). I had a great deal of respect for her. Precious Flower, on the other hand, even though she was always friendly and nice to my face, I wouldn't have trusted with a plastic goldfish.

My husband was on the board. When I told him what was really going on, and that the "charges" were a bunch of rumor and speculation put togther by a group of spiteful women trying to use the board to settle personal vandettas, he said, "You know she doesn't like you and talks crap about you, right? She's not very nice."

"I don't care. This is about right and wrong. She's getting railroaded because they don't like her, not because she did anything wrong. It doesn't matter if she likes us or not, we need to stand up for her."

I wish I could have been a fly on the wall at that meeting. Precious Flower and her conspirators got their butts handed to them.

In the end Precious Flower had a melt down of a temper tantrum, letting her true colors come blazing through, and
Horse Sense became a friend I enjoyed spending time with, despite the fact we had different philosophies.

I guess this story would also illustrate the ability to change your perspective about someone. In the beginning Horse Sense didn't like or respect me, but because of one action, she had a total change of heart.

You can only judge the parts of people that they allow you to see.

11-07-2011, 08:09 AM
I understand this pretty much. That respect thing is a bit hard. But as someone said, in situation A you may respect the person because he or she can handle that situation, even if you were not best friends.

12-04-2011, 04:46 AM
In my professional life as a geologist there is a gentlemen I know that has about 20 years of experience, loads of expertise in environmental regulations, and science. When he talks about the world of environmental regulation and environmental science I sit up and take notice.

But I can't stand the guy. Personality-wise, he's a complete and utter dick. :)

So yes, I can respect someone without liking them.


12-04-2011, 04:50 AM
I can, and do, respect a number of people I don't like, or at least respect something about them -- a skill, an ability.

I can't think of anyone I like that I don't have any respect for.

12-04-2011, 11:58 PM
I think liking someone without respecting them works out to condescending pity.

Or else possessive affection, where someone feels affection for someone until they start acting like they have a mind of their own. (This is mistaken for love, but is anything but).

Respecting someone -- or something about someone -- without liking them is much easier. Someone who you think makes the wrong choices for the right reasons, for instance. Or they have one virtue you admire, while some flaw that makes them unlikable. Or you have a lot of respect for them -- you just find it exhausting to be around them.

12-05-2011, 04:36 AM
I think liking someone without respecting them works out to condescending pity.

Or else possessive affection, where someone feels affection for someone until they start acting like they have a mind of their own. (This is mistaken for love, but is anything but).

Respecting someone -- or something about someone -- without liking them is much easier. Someone who you think makes the wrong choices for the right reasons, for instance. Or they have one virtue you admire, while some flaw that makes them unlikable. Or you have a lot of respect for them -- you just find it exhausting to be around them.

The condescending part is not really quite right for me, but by nature of not being able to respect enough about a person, I suppose it's true. I feel it's like more of a cheerleader role. Pulling for the underdog and all that.

I hate that I can't say I respect enough about them, but sometimes it's just true :(

Some people really do have a hard time finding morals, etc, but they have a good heart, I think. It's probably condescending of me to see that as a journey, but I mean no harm by it.

12-05-2011, 03:20 PM
There are lots of people that I don't like on a personal level, but whom I respect.

Equally there are people that I like well enough, but that I don't have a massive amount of respect for, especially in professional terms.

12-05-2011, 03:39 PM
I can only like someone I don't respect in a casual sort of way. Maybe they're someone I see out at clubs and things, and nowhere else. Something about the way they behave means I have no respect for them, but they're fun to have a drink and a dance with. But that's not real liking, it's just that in this one situation they are fun. If I had to spend longer periods of time with them, the liking would dribble away till I was left with nothing but contempt.

It's happened to me before.

As for the other way- yes. I find it very easy to respect someone I dislike. If I find their personality grating I can still be impressed by their talent or their strength of belief.