I've been thinking a lot about these words lately.
I tell my kids to command respect. I've never used the word demand. It didn't seem right.
I looked up the definitions in Websters, and they were too similar to compare, so I looked in a connotation dictionary, and an emotional dictionary, and this is what I got:
A leader who demands respect does not gain respect naturally, in "demand", authority comes via the use of force. In "command" authority comes via respect. This emphasizes that in usage, command and demand refer to two different ideas.
• In command, there is influence.
• In demand, there is force.
I think this sums it up. I think that's why I can't wrap my head around anything that's going on in the world today. There are a lot of people demanding things.
"I demand better service."
"I demand you to hurry up with that service."
"I demand quality education for my child."
"I demand that we stop paying teachers 'so much' money."
"I demand the right to practice my religion."
"I demand that you shut the hell up about yours."
"I demand that we finance my favorite charity."
"I demand we stop financing yours."
"I demand that you give me certain privileges."
"I demand you take that guy's privileges away."
This never works. It will never work. Everyone who is demanding things is simply creating more conflict. Demanding sucks. It's a word we associate with toddlers, ex-wives, divas. It ain't pretty.
Commanding respect on the other hand: Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, Malala Yousefzai, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Garret Anderson, Rosa Parks, Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma. You couldn't find better company.
Good things happen when people talk to each other, not about each other, and certainly not at each other..
So here are my tips for having an actual meaningful, helpful conversation with another human being.
1) Listen to what the other person has to say.
2) Quit thinking of your rebuttal while they're talking.
3) Seriously. Quit.
4) Put yourself in their shoes. Really think. Really feel. Please don't tell me you can't, or you simply won't condone their words or behavior . What is it like to live in that person's heart? What circumstances led them here? If you can't do this you are likely part of the problem.
5) Ask them why they feel that way.
6) Share yourself with them. Your genuine self. Not soundbites, not what you read on Buzzfeed, not what your preferred homepage dumped into your lap today - share YOU, your humanity, your fears, your hope for how things can be different. You will likely find, that most of us really want the same things, but we are human, we are fallible and most important - we are still learning. We want the same things - equality, peace, a beautiful world to raise our families in - but life is complicated and we don't always agree on the best path to take.
7) Command respect by being a fellow human being - someone that others know will listen to them and work for genuine solutions with others. I've said it before, but I really believe it - when everyone plays defense, nobody wins. Nobody.