The Difference Between "Like", "Respect" and "Value"

by Teresa Basich on October 2, 2009

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I’ve been thinking a bit about these terms lately. And yes, here we are talking semantics when no one really wants to deal with this sort of hair splitting (me included), but just bear with me. These terms are usually mashed together, rarely differentiated from one another to show the inherent differences in what (or who) we truly like, respect and value.

Off the cuff, “like”, “respect” and “value” are interchangeable.

I don’t want to bust out any Webster definitions for these words, but I do want to break them down by how I feel we as a society use them in our lives, and what that means for people and organizations who are liked, respected or valued.

Like

Liking something or someone really boils down to finding that thing or person momentarily entertaining. It/He/She keeps your attention and makes you appreciate the moment you’re in a little more. Liking an object, person, statement, etc., means that whatever you like has an inherent pleasurable quality to it. Not so bad, right?

Respect

When we respect a person, organization or social movement (hard to respect things, per se), those people, organizations or movements have a quality about them that we see as efficacious. They’ve established themselves as voices of goodness or rightness or some sort of message that resonates deep within us as contributing to the betterment of our communities or the world. People and groups we respect make us stand up taller and take note of the work they’re doing. Respectable organizations and people are held in high esteem, and we see the good in the messages they drive even if those people, organizations or their messages aren’t affecting us or our work directly.

Value

The value of a person, thing, movement or organization lies in its potential to positively affect another person, thing, social movement, organization, etc. Value is additional and, in many instances, quantifiable. When we value a person, thing or organization we feel their existence or message as something that enriches or adds to our lives. We become better for those things and people that we value. We become loyal advocates of what and who we value because they improve us. Valued individuals and things are those that we also like and respect.

Do you see the relative hierarchy of these terms? Each word adds a layer of depth and meaning to the one before it.

I bring this up because it seems as if we sometimes get these terms mixed up to such a degree that it takes real effort for us to figure out who and what we like, respect and value, and how we should be responding to each.

A trend I’ve noticed for as long as I can remember is that we tend to respond strongest to the people and things we like because of that entertainment value they hold. But, we don’t necessarily respect or value those people or things that we like. Odd.

In so many cases, we take for granted what and who we value because those people and things resonate so deeply within us that we almost forget their existence, like they’re a part of us in a way. We recognize novelty and entertainment. We don’t recognize enough the people and things we value.

Like is fleeting. Respect is long-lasting. Value is never-ending.

In a world of constant stimulation it’s easy to feel as if we should strive to be liked, because being liked garners the most hits. What sticks, though, is being valuable, because value is foundational and life defining.

My question to you is: Do you want to be liked, respected or valued?

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{ 4 comments }

Jeremy Meyers October 4, 2009 at 4:01 pm

I think it’s interesting that you’ve framed these in order of an increasing amount of connection with the person or thing you’re talking about. You can like something and not have anyone ever know. It’s a solitary activity, one way.

Respect is usually earned through dialogue, but not necessarily someone you share personal stuff with…you can respect someone at work…

Value is when that persons presence in your life and the connection between the two of you is important to you.

I try to avoid striving to have people have any specific reaction to me, because I can’t control it and the striving just gets me in my head.

teresabasich October 5, 2009 at 8:27 am

I wouldn’t say you should overshoot every single time to make every person you meet love and value you — that’s just not possible. I wrote this more as something to bring awareness to the various things and companies we like, respect and value.

Sometimes I just feel we put more focus on the things we like than on the things we value (or people or companies) and I hope that at times we can step back and realize where our attention and recognition efforts would be more appropriately dedicated, and act on that realization.

The way you note like, respect and value as increasing presence or importance in a person’s life is another fantastic way to look at the terms.

Thanks for the comment. :)

Walter Adena October 5, 2009 at 5:52 pm

Profound definitions you have expounded here. Respect is hard to earn, value is hard to come by and likability has fooled many. Of course, I choose to be valued. :-)

teresabasich October 6, 2009 at 9:21 am

Yet another fantastic addition to the like-respect-value picture. Thank you for the comment, Walter!

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