Difference Between Courtesy and Respect

Courtesy vs Respect

Although Courtesy and Respect are two words that often go together, these are not synonymous; there is a difference between them in meaning. Being courteous to others and respectful is viewed as positive qualities in people. We all prefer individuals who are respectful and courteous to others, than those who disregard and condescend others. From childhood itself children are taught to be courteous and respectful of others. But these two are different things. First let us pay attention to the definitions of the words. Courtesy is being polite to others. It is when an individual’s behavior and mannerisms emphasize politeness. Respect, however, is different to courtesy. Respect can be defined as an admiration for someone because of their qualities or achievements. Through this article let us examine the differences between the two words.

What is Courtesy?

Courtesy, as mentioned above, can be understood as polite behavior and mannerism. Being courteous is when an individual displays politeness. In various social situations, people have to be courteous to others. For instance, a salesperson that is assisting clients is usually very courteous. His behavior, words and even mannerisms highlight respect for the client.

However, one does not have to be truly respectful of another to be courteous. It is more of a façade that people wear when dealing with others. For example, you are courteous to a person you have just met, a waiter or cashier is courteous towards the diners or buyers. We can even be courteous towards people we dislike. This is because being courteous does not require admiration for the individual, it merely promotes polite social interactions.

Difference Between Courtesy and Respect

What is Respect?

The word respect can be defined as admiration for someone because of their qualities or achievements. Throughout our lives, we meet various people that we truly respect. From childhood itself we learn to respect our parents and teachers for their wonderful personalities and qualities. As we grow up, we gain respect for our colleagues, superiors, and even people that we do not know personally, such as entrepreneurs, famous personalities, etc.

Unlike in the case of courtesy where we become polite for almost anyone, respect does not function in that manner. Respect comes from within us as we view the positive aspects and the amazing traits of other people. It is these traits that make us respect them. When we are courteous, we are not bothered about the character or qualities or achievements of the individual, but in respect it is these features that make us respect that individual. These are the differences between courtesy and respect.

 Courtesy vs Respect

What is the difference between Courtesy and Respect?

Definitions of Courtesy and Respect:

Courtesy: Courtesy refers to being polite.

Respect: Respect refers to admiration for someone because of their qualities or achievements.

Characteristics of Courtesy and Respect:


Courtesy: To be courteous no requirements are needed.

Respect: To be respected the individual needs to possess some uniqueness, it can be qualities, achievements, personality, etc.


Courtesy: To be courteous we do not have to honor that person. We can even be courteous to someone we dislike.

Respect: To respect we must truly honor that person.

Social Protocol vs Individual:

Courtesy: Courtesy is a social protocol.

Respect: Respect comes from within us.


Images Courtesy: A tip o’ the hat (US President Calvin Coolidge, 1924)  and salute via Wikicommons (Public Domain)