Military respect is something every soldier hopes to gain. We all know the age-old saying to treat others how you want to be treated. This starts with showing respect. In the military and everyday normal civilian life, respect is about more than just how you treat a soldier or individual; it is also how you speak to them and the tone in which you speak to them. Respect is not given; it is earned over time and through your actions. When dealing with soldiers or civilians, your attitude and behavior will dictate the level of honor they give you. If you want respect, you begin by earning it and being respectful towards others.
The Types or Levels of Military Respect
There are different types of respect one can earn. These are honor for the person, the rank, and the position. Here are some examples: as a civilian, you should show regard to people of authority, such as a police officer, as a show of respect for the position. If you’re in the Army and you’re an E5, you must show military courtesy to anybody E6 and above as a show of respect for rank. Then there is respect for the person. You might have this type for somebody who has earned your regard over time by showing and being respectful towards you and others.
Military Respect For the Rank
This is sometimes an issue in the military because there will always be someone that out-ranks you but then does not have the experience, knowledge, or level of training that you may have. Over the years, especially early in the OIF/OEF campaign, many promotions lead to people with less experience being command promoted to E4 without proper time in grade. This issue happened a lot in the National Guard. What happened (and what still happens today) was new, less-experienced soldiers got promoted to E5 over soldiers who had been in the military for 3 to 5 years and had not made rank because of the promotion system flaws. Anybody in the military, especially those in combat arms, will tell you that a few college credits will not beat the 3-years’ experience of a combat veteran. However, the flawed system allowed this to happen.
It is great that soldiers come in with college degrees, but there is an immediate lack of regard for that new person and their rank because the rank was never earned! Anybody in the National Guard will tell you that this has been an issue for many years. The respect for the rank in most cases is just that a junior must honor that rank and follow orders as such. One thing this will lead to is a bad command climate when less-experienced soldiers are promoted over more experienced ones.
Respect For the Position
Respect for the position is far different than that for the military rank. In the military, or even in civilian life, you may have a higher rank than another solider or civilian, yet they are in a position over you. A good example is a cadre. Some cadre are E5 maybe E6. However, at that time, that position outranks you, and no matter your rank over theirs, you must follow orders as instructed. And trying to pull rank on anybody who is in a higher position than you won’t get you anywhere. Therefore, respect the position and try to respect the person at the same time. They have been put in that position for a reason, either because of their knowledge or their experience. At the end of the day, knowledge teaches and experience trains, not rank!
Respect For the Person
Respect for the person is what you should strive to have. This begins before you meet somebody or they meet you. Your reputation precedes you! Once you meet, how a person speaks (their tone and their language use) and their behavior will dictate your immediate opinion. You get one chance to make a first impression, so make it a lasting one. Your respect for a person or theirs for you is shown and will be dictated by your attitude and behavior and even your past. You should begin by not only treating others how you want to be treated, but also by how they want to be treated. Honoring the person also has to do with their knowledge, experience, and desire to share and pass courtesy on to others. You will never be fully respected as a person if it is always about you! You must be willing and able to help others become more successful. The easiest way to earn respect is to show it no matter the rank, position, or person.
If You Earn It, You Will Gain It
You will earn more respect the more that you show courtesy to others and treat others how they want to be treated. The more knowledge and experience you gain, the more respect you will earn. There is no big secret to gaining respect; it is all up to you, and it’s even more about your attitude and behavior. It’s not automatic and respect is stronger when it’s earned rather than just given.