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Respect: A Concept Analysis

Essay by   •  August 9, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  1,720 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,623 Views

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Respect: A Concept Analysis

The term respect permeates culture. An internet search using the term yields more than 400 million responses. During the first 6 months of 2006, more than 200 items in the New York Times had respect in the headline, lead paragraph, or key terms (Langdon, 2007). In President Bush's 2006 State of the Union Address, he stressed the importance of respect within the first two minutes of the 51 minute long speech. Major religion and philosophical texts, including the Bible and Koran, include respect as a fundamental moral value.

But what is respect? Theoretical and philosophical discussions often trace the concept of respect to Immanuel Kant in the late 1700's. According to Kant (1785/1949)), respect is a priori, a moral duty based on reason that may be determined by experience. A deontological view of respect is based on the belief that all persons, because of their moral autonomy, have value and ought to be respected for that value (Beauchamp & Childress, 2001).

Respect has great importance in everyday life. As children we are taught (one hopes) to respect your parents, teachers and elders, school rules and traffic laws. We are also taught to respect family and cultural traditions, other people's feelings and rights, our country flag and leaders, the truth and people's differing opinions. We come to value respect for such things. As we age, we may shake our heads (or fists) at people who seem not to have learned to respect these basic principles. Calls to respect this or that are increasingly part of public life; environmentalists urge us to respect nature, foes of abortion and capital punishment insist on respect for human life. Also, members of racial and ethnic minorities and those discriminated against because of their gender, sexual orientation, age, religious beliefs, or economic status demand respect both as social and moral equals and for their cultural differences.

Despite the widespread acknowledgement of the importance of respect and self-respect, the lack of a uniform definition is the very purpose of my concept analysis. Respect seems to be an all-encompassing value. Its meaning is similar to other concepts such as dignity, honor and liking, yet it is unique. It is also unclear if respect is an emotion, attitude or behavior.

According to Webster's Dictionary (Agnes & Laird, 1996) the noun respect is defined as the giving of particular attention, high or special regard, and expressions of deference. As a verb, to respect is to consider another worthy of esteem, to refrain from obtruding or interfering, to be concerned, and to show deference.

A deeper understanding of respect is found in the literature concerning ethics and human values where respect is considered to be a primary ethical principle. Downie and Telfer (1980) describe respect as the central moral attitude from which all other moral principles are explained. Rokeach (1979) views respect as a human value that addresses justice, honor and human dignity.

The following passage describes the principle of respect in the nurse-client relationship:

"In order for the client to experience his right to exist as an other, the nurse must demonstrate a receptive attitude that values the client's feelings, opinions, individuality, and uniqueness" (Leddy & Pepper, 1993).

In the nurse-client relationship, respect is demonstrated by equality, mutuality and shared thinking about strengths and problems. The following are guidelines for nurses to follow in demonstrating respect to clients (Leddy & Pepper, 1993)

1. The nurse needs to show a high level of commitment to understand the client through her willingness to fully explore subjects of importance to the client. This requires a great deal of skill in verbal communication.

2. The nurse needs to convey acceptance and warmth by being non-judgmental. Nurses must develop a high level of immunity to being embarrassed, shocked, dismayed or overwhelmed by the client's behavior.

3. The nurse needs to welcome the opportunity to relate to different individuals and to feel enriched by the relationships. This requires freedom from prejudice.

4. The nurse must believe in the capacity of others to change. Respect by the nurse affirms the strengths and problem-solving capabilities of the client.

Clients who are members of a cultural group unlike that of the nurse may have special needs for respect. According to Bradley and Edinberg (1990), nurses may be viewed as being powerful, one-up, and if from a different racial group, non-empathic. Respecting the client's dignity is critical to therapeutic communication even when the client is in dire social, economic or health circumstances (Bradley & Edinberg, 1990).

Further, respect is discussed as an underlying principle for guiding all nursing actions and interactions between people. Contemporary codes make much reference to respect. Respect is the first ethical injunction in the American Nurses' Association (2001) Code of Ethics for Nurses:

Provision 1 .1 Respect for human dignity: A fundamental principle that underlies all nursing practice is respect for the inherent worth, dignity and human rights of every individual. Nurses take into account the needs and values of all persons in all professional relationships.

The Canadian Nurses Association (2007) code requires that nurses respect autonomy, wishes, informed choices, a person's advance directive, a person's method of decision making, dignity, physical and informational privacy, all persons, policies, safeguards and the values and responsibilities in the code.

In the business world, placing a priority on treating people equitably is another core value that helps employers establish respect. An atmosphere of inequitable treatment, where some people are made to feel they are not being treated as well as others, hurts employer's effort to convey respect (Prince, 2000). An atmosphere of employer respect for employees and intangible benefits has become vital to attracting and retaining employees. A company that does not respect the whole person will not be competitive in the future.

Common phrases containing the concept respect includes: With all due respect, in every respect, in that respect, treat

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