Do you have kids? A "significant other"? Co-workers (subordinates, superiors, whatever) that you're not afraid to speak your mind to? Close friends or opinionated parents? All of the above? Why do you speak to them differently than you do to strangers, store clerks, people in the elevator, or co-workers or acquaintances that you aren't very close to? And when I say "differently", it usually translates to nicer, more respectful, more thoughtful, or any number of adjectives that amount to just "better". And don't claim that you don't: when your 5 year old accidentally sloshes some chocolate milk out of her cup and onto the floor (or even the table), and if you thought about it you'd realize that she was trying harder and concentrating more on NOT spilling than you ever do, would you respond as you would if stranger or someone you barely knew accidentally did the same thing? That is to say, would you be exceedingly polite and understanding and forgiving, as with the stranger, or would you take an angry tone (probably unconsciously) and say "what were you thinking?" or "I TOLD you to be careful!" or, one of my all-time favorite ridiculous grown-up questions to someone who's just accidentally messed something up, "WHY did you do that?" As though it were a conscious decision to have the accident!
This is a vexing problem for me as I struggle domestically with my wife and how we interact (never respectfully enough towards each other, though we love each other very much and consider ourselves "good people"), how I see myself and other parents react to their children's learning experiences, how people deal with their "meddling" parents/friends, etc., as well as professionally, as I constantly observe in all walks of life and professions how people scheme, connive, backstab, make things up, sabotage, "build cases" against co-workers (are they going on trial someday?), etc. It physically puts me in a negative state of mind just typing these words and scenarios, as they result in mental imagery of the real situations and actions that are so disturbing.
As the Buddha, or Jesus, or God Himself would advise us, do unto others as you would have done unto you; or better yet (and more simply), respect all and act accordingly. I believe it does ultimately come down to respect; for some, the road ends with "I don't respect him, so I can't act like I do because that would be disingenuous of me". But for those willing to try, it can transform into "what is she trying to accomplish? Can I help? What are the intentions here? Did he dump the milk/make the mistake on the report on purpose?" And what if they did, or what of the unintended yet repeated mistakes/accidents? How many is too many? What if they're just too dumb, or just don't care, or are just mean or vindictive? The answer is that there is no answer. Or is it that there is no question? For if the only objective when dealing with others is to do unto others, or perhaps the restated "do no harm", then the question of intent or mental aptitude or good/evil never enters into the internal conversation. Continue to do unto them as you would have done unto you; continue to respect all; continue to do all that you can in bringing out the good in everyone you interact with, for there is good in every one of us, no matter how buried or hidden it may appear.