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Respectful relationships


A respectful relationship is made up of mutual respect, good communication, trust, honesty and understanding.

A respectful relationship looks like:

  • Feeling safe.
  • Being able to have fun together.
  • Having respect for yourself and your partner.
  • Being able to say ‘no’.
  • Being able to make your own decisions.
  • Listening and being heard.
  • Being able to express your thoughts and feelings honestly.
  • Supporting each other through good times and bad.
  • Being able to talk things through and make compromises.

Communication is a key ingredient to building and maintaining a respectful relationship.

Keeping a level head while also clearly communicating your ideas and opinions, even when they are being challenged, isn’t easy. If you can achieve a respectful level and tone of communication in the face of conflict, it will be a skill that will serve you well in many situations.

Conflict in conversations

The world we live in today can be overwhelmingly divisive, making it difficult to have conversations about the things that are important to you when you encounter extremism, misinformation, or even just other people’s anger.

We are all bound to experience conflict in our dealings with people, but how you handle these challenging situations makes the difference between hurting or strengthening your relationships. And it all comes down to respect for other the person’s views.

What to do

Showing respect

Conflict isn’t always negative. In fact, conflict can be quite constructive. It can open your mind to different viewpoints, challenge assumptions you take for granted and help you grow as an individual. However, positive conflict depends on respect for the other person and avoiding common pitfalls and by adopting these tips.

  • The only time we learn during a conversation is when we’re listening. Throughout the conversation, focus more on listening rather than on sharing your thoughts.
  • During the conversation, avoid distractions such as phone calls or looking at digital devices.
  • Put the other person on an equal footing with yourself, rather than treat them as below you in standing.
  • Don’t interrupt the other person.
  • Show empathy. Empathy is one of the most powerful ways to connect with others, even those that you don’t agree with.
  • Focus on the common ground, rather than the differences with your views.
  • Deal with facts rather than opinion when there is disagreement.

Getting support

At Deakin, we provide a safe and respectful learning and working environment. Student and staff safety and wellbeing is our highest priority. If you, or someone you know has a concern, we’re here to support you. Appointments with counsellors are available to Deakin students through Deakin's Counselling service, the service’s website also provides information on healthy relationships.

Relationships Australia provide relationship counselling services across Australia.

1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) provide online and phone for people experiencing domestic family and sexual violence, as well as information on healthy relationships.

More help and advice

Learn more about respectful relationships on the Body Talk website.

headspace provide information on building healthy romantic relationships.

ReachOut provide information on communication skills.

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