Respect and the Field Model
- The Field Model helps you behave respectfully towards people in personal relationships.
- It is based on the idea that we are individuals with rich inner worlds, and human rights.
- The model distinguishes between formal and personal relationships.
- Stop Ask Listen is about considering, restraining and empathising.
- Yes No I Don’t Know gives you a framework for making shared decisions.
- Moving the Line defines disrespectful behaviour.
- Stepping In reinforces that we can all have a role in building respect in our society.
A framework for respectful relationships
There are many benefits to following the Field Model, but there is a bonus when it comes to respect —you will be pretty much acting respectfully by default. This is because the Field Model is an entire framework designed to help each of us act respectfully in any personal relationship.
Individuals with our own rich inner worlds
The Field Model is built on the idea that we are all individuals with our own rich inner worlds, and we have agreed that we can’t just act towards or take what we want from other people—we need to respect their individual rights.
In this way, the Field Model lines up with the foundation of respect, because both are about valuing everyone’s individual freedoms.
Formal vs personal relationships
The Field Model distinguishes between formal and personal relationships.
- In formal relationships, we comply with legitimate use of authority. (But if someone abuses or misapplies authority—and abuses the concept of respect—we can refuse to comply.)
- In personal relationships, we need to negotiate consent around shared decisions—which is a way of restraining ourselves and considering other people’s rights and needs.
Stop Ask Listen
Stopping is restraint, which is essential to respect: it’s deliberately refraining from action to allow time to check if it will violate someone else’s rights.
Asking and listening expand our understanding of other people, perhaps so we can empathise with them, but most importantly so we can work out where we stand on shared decisions.
Yes No I Don’t Know
YNIDK helps us navigate shared decisions in a way that is respectful:
- giving people space and time to reach a decision
- not taking action until both people agree
- letting people change their minds at any time
- giving people the safety and power to say no, and
- responding gracefully and respectfully if they do.
The model also describes the abusive form of ‘no’—where somebody uses the word ‘no’ to control another person’s behaviour and restrict their freedoms—and gives us a way to recognise when this is happening and how to respond.
If we follow YNIDK in good faith, we are going a long way towards having respectful relationships.
Moving the line
Moving the line is by definition disrespectful behaviour—it’s taking action that ignores another person’s rights and freedoms.
Stepping in can be seen as a part of the deeper and more extended version of personal respect, where you don’t just consider someone else’s rights, but you actually empathise and try to support or help them.
“Is this a respectful relationship?”
We’ve seen that respect is different processes, with different implications, that change slightly under different circumstances.
So that’s ultimately why the Field Model exists: to unpack what we mean by having a respectful relationship or treating somebody with respect.
It can seem complicated. But it’s not so complicated that we can’t understand it and apply it in your own lives. And the benefits are immense when we treat everyone around us with respect and have them treat us with respect in turn.