‘Respect… give it and you’ll get it’

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. James A. Crites
  • 9th Operations Group
Respect plays a major role in our personal lives as well as our professional Air Force lives. We learn early on to respect our parents, our elders, our teachers, the police and laws. After joining the Air Force we quickly learned to respect our training instructors, our chain of command and in general, we learned the value of respect for authority.

Respect is so important to the workings of the Air Force that it is discussed in detail in the Air Force Core Values, The Enlisted Force Structure and our Professional Development Guide. The Core Values breaks respect down into three categories: self respect, respect for others and mutual respect.

Self respect is where it all starts and it's the first step in understanding and practicing respect. It's a trait of our first core value of Integrity First. Many of us take self respect for granted until we lose it or it is questioned. It's often when we have to work hard to regain it or defend it that we discover how valuable that it really is. Airmen demonstrate self respect when they respect themselves as professionals and as human beings. Airmen also demonstrate self respect by not behaving in ways that would bring discredit to themselves or their organizations. Displays of anger, unprofessional relationships and excessive consumption of alcohol are a few ways we can decrease our self respect. Over eating and lack of exercise leading to a poor fitness assessment also minimizes self respect. On the flip side, Airmen can increase their self respect by exhibiting professional behavior, living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining their military bearing.

Respect for others is the next step and is a trait of our core value Service before self. It is difficult if not impossible to respect others if we don't first respect ourselves. We demonstrate respect for others when we make sure that we act with the knowledge that all people possess worth as human beings. Respect for others is based on self-respect. It is following the Golden Rule that we all learned in Kindergarten: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." Respect for others is the value that makes the world decent and civilized. Airmen can practice respect for others by being polite, treating people fairly and showing genuine concern for the well being of others.

Mutual respect is a trait of our core value Excellence in all we do. Mutual respect is where it all comes together. This type of respect is the practice of self respect and respect for others by all parties involved and it is where we need to be. We demonstrate mutual respect by putting into practice the first two forms of respect and ensuring that we never judge others based on their race, ethnicity, economic status, religion or gender. Mutual respect improves the chances of achieving goals, and it creates an environment that is free of fear that promotes everyone's self worth.

Mastering all of the aspects of respect is an ongoing process. It's something that we all need to continuously work on. It's imperative that we all to strive to practice all aspects of respect to the best of our abilities. Respect demands that we treat each other with dignity. It enables us to listen to each other's needs and to respond with empathy. It encourages us to take responsibility for our ideas and our actions. It allows us to be straightforward, honest and consistent with each other. Respect... give it and you'll get it!