I’ve been told that the most important etiquette in the dojo is “Treat your seniors with respect and your juniors with kindness.” The devil’s advocate in me wants to ask “So, if your juniors don’t respect you, does that mean you don’t have to be kind to them?”, but it’s a stupid question, because I already know the answer.
I always try to treat everyone in the dojo with respect and kindness, unless they give me a good reason not to (and even then I usually err on the side of caution). I believe every person deserves to be treated well, regardless of their rank or ability. I respect the effort as much as the result, and I try to be kind with people’s feelings as well as to their bodies. No one is perfect, we all make mistakes, and we can help each other learn from them.
Outside of the dojo, it’s the same for me, people are people. Everyone is struggling on some path of their own, and if we all showed more kindness and respect to each other, it would make all of our lives better. Taking the high road isn’t always the easiest route, but I think it has the biggest payoff.