Respect at La Trobe

Respect in relationships happens when you respect yourself and others.

Create respectful relationships

Self-respect takes self-awareness, acceptance and sometimes courage. It is about understanding your strengths and limits, and knowing what is important to you. It is also about being aware of your needs, understanding your 'bottom line' on certain things and making positive choices.

Respectful relationships are important because:

  • they contribute to your growth, maturity and sense of self-confidence
  • they promote healthy self-expression and awareness of yourself and others
  • they enable you to feel accepted, positive and free to be yourself.

Respectful relationships also help you feel:

  • safe
  • encouraged
  • trusted
  • comfortable
  • that you matter
  • OK to be honest and open
  • listened to
  • equal and treated fairly
  • valued
  • understood
  • accepted.

Deal with difference respectfully

Being in a respectful relationship doesn't mean you won't sometimes have differences of opinion or disagreements. When differences occur you can deal with them in ways that lead to mutual understanding or resolution.

For example, people might disagree with each other, but they can accept and appreciate that it's okay to have different ideas, even when they feel tense or unhappy about things.

Conflict or differences occurring in respectful relationships can be worked out and do not have to damage the relationship. Such difficulties may even create opportunities to understand each other more deeply and result in a stronger bond.

Some ways that you might manage differences respectfully include:

  • taking responsibility for your own feelings and dealing with them
  • managing your anger without harming others
  • expressing your feelings in a non-blaming way
  • taking time to listen to and understand the other's points of view
  • communicating your concerns or needs clearly
  • allowing the other person space if they need it
  • understanding that people do have differences and that this is OK
  • appreciating and valuing diversity
  • being culturally sensitive and open to learning about others and what respect means for them
  • avoiding pressuring the other person in any way
  • recognising and owning things you might have done that has contributed to a misunderstanding.

Deal with cultural differences

Cultural differences can also mean our ideas on respect are different. It's important to be sensitive and not too quick to judge. For example, eye contact may represent respect in one culture and disrespect in another, yet this difference may lead to misunderstanding between people. Respectful people will avoid quick judgments and stereotyping. They keep an open mind and are open to learning about diversity.

Respectful relationships develops in the presence of genuine acknowledgement, appreciation of, and interest in diversity. Apart from avoiding disrespectful behaviours, engaging in respectful relationships means demonstrating a positive appreciation of people and their cultural values.

'At the base of intercultural understanding is a recognition of the ways in which two cultures
resemble one another…Resemblances usually surface through an examination of the differences.' (Valdes, 1986, p49).

Negotiate needs in respectful relationships

We all have different needs at different times and, in relationships, it helps to give and take in terms of each other's needs. This is the case in all relationships, including friendships, family relationships and partner relationships.

So, how do we negotiate needs and differences in a respectful relationship?

  • acknowledge and consider everyone's needs
  • are flexible about individual choice or participation
  • will acknowledge differences and strive to accommodate them.

Being respectful:

  • doesn't mean expecting one person put their needs aside for the other person
  • may mean communicating how you feel and being flexible at times, but it also means being true to yourself
  • is not about trying to change someone but rather striving to understand things from their perspective even if yours is different.


  • Consent is an active verbal agreement which is voluntary, mutual, sober, imaginative, enthusiastic, creative, wanted, informed and honest.
  • Consent cannot be coerced
  • Consent is a process which must be asked every step of the way
  • Consent is never implied and cannot be assumed, even in the context of a relationship
  • Just because you are in a relationship does not mean that you have permission to be sexual with your partner
  • A person who is intoxicated cannot legally give consent.

Respect on social media

Think carefully about your social media identity as this can impact your status as a student, or later when applying for a job or in developing a relationship.

Respect on social media

Social media can be a great way to communicate with others and in establishing a positive image to help in securing future employment. However as we all know there are risks associated with social media use. It is also important to respect others using social media. Have a look at the video on our social media page for some reminders on how best to use social media.

Don't be a social media wrecking ball

Developed by our students working at the PR agency on campus, this is an app that highlights the dangers of social media and the impact this can have on future employment and how best to avoid those pitfalls.


External resources and videos: