Respect is something earned by one’s actions and the way they carry themselves through life.
People often say they want to demand respect or command respect from other people, but that isn’t really a thing you can do.
Demanding respect doesn’t earn respect, it generally only causes the demandee to placate the demander, which is not respect. That’s more fear and intimidation which are not even close to the same thing.
Respect is a deep admiration for a person or thing whose achievements, abilities, or qualities inspire.
To gain respect, one needs to adopt ways to inspire those feelings in oneself and other people.
How do you do that?
1. Act with respect toward other people.
People can be jerks. They’re rude, arrogant, pushy, and angry.
Why would you want to treat those people with respect?
Well, their behavior is a reflection on them and their state of mind and life, whilst your behavior is a reflection on you and your state of mind and life.
It’s tempting to lower oneself into the mud and fight with those people when they push up against your boundaries or treat you badly.
But people will take note of how you respond to that behavior. Sinking to that level can make other people think that you lack self-control or an ability to be diplomatic with conflict.
That doesn’t mean that you should be a doormat or accept negative behavior. It does mean having a set boundary and learning to walk away or socially navigate unnecessary conflicts so you don’t get sucked into the negativity of other people.
People will notice if you can take the high road.
2. Let your actions speak for you.
No one cares what you say you’re going to do.
They only care about what you actually do.
People will talk all day long about what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it. Far too many people think that a good idea or a desire is in any way comparable to taking action.
Don’t say what you’re going to do or seek approval from other people about your ideas.
If you want to do it, then do it.
Just remember this: the actions you take today are what people will form judgments around tomorrow.
Acting with integrity and honesty, even when things don’t go well, demonstrates that you are trustworthy to others.
If you say you will do something, follow through on it and make sure the thing gets done.
Being someone who can be relied upon will make you stand out and gain respect because so few people actually follow through on the things they say they’ll do.
3. Don’t confuse professional respect with personal respect.
Some people believe that they can earn respect with a title or authority.
That is sort of true. A title or position of authority may be respected, but the person who is presiding within it may not be.
Perhaps that person shows themselves to be an unwise person who is rash, abusive, or impulsive.
Perhaps they use their authority as a club to bludgeon their subordinates with.
They aren’t a leader, they’re just someone who is in a leadership role.
You may acquire a title – doctor, star athlete, manager, commander – but what you do with that title will determine whether or not people genuinely respect you.
The person that earns that title needs to act with personal and professional integrity. That means taking one’s responsibilities seriously, making the right decisions, and putting in the work.
Be a good follower when it’s time. Be a good leader when it’s time.
With that work comes character, trust, and respect.
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- 20 Signs You’re Disrespecting Yourself (And How To Stop)
4. Have opinions and don’t be too nice.
One would think that being nice is a way to earn respect.
While it is important to act with kindness and grace toward other people, being too nice can be interpreted as weakness or dishonesty.
Niceness is fine in moderation. But being too nice can make people question your character and honesty.
Honesty is sometimes not nice or positive, but it may be something that needs to be said so that a meaningful and positive change can come from the situation.
If you’re about to make a terrible mistake, you don’t want your nice friend telling you that it’s a great idea when they know for a fact that it’s not going to be. That’s just lying and no one respects a liar.
The same is true for opinions. A person who has no opinions of their own or changes them when they are challenged in any way comes across as weak.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t change an opinion when you are presented with new information or better understand the subject. It does mean that you can’t back down from people arbitrarily if you want to be respected.
5. Develop positive self-talk.
What we tell ourselves in the quiet of our own mind carries out through our actions, emotions, and behaviors.
A person who uses a lot of negative self-talk – about how their ideas aren’t good, that they aren’t valuable, that they aren’t worth respecting – is going to project that outward through their actions and demeanor.
Negative self-talk needs to be controlled so that it doesn’t bleed out into your interactions with other people.
But here’s the thing.
You don’t need to be fake positive about having negative emotions or perceptions.
Be positive about things that actually are positive. Acknowledge negative things that are real and concrete, but don’t let them dwell in your mind.
Don’t be fake positive about the negative; just strive to not be negative.
But isn’t that being fake positive?
No. It’s just striving to not be negative.
Let’s say you made a mistake at work that your boss noticed and she was not happy about it.
Negative talk would be to tell oneself that they are stupid, incompetent, or incapable of doing things correctly.
Fake positivity would be trying to spin the mistake into a good thing when it clearly is not.
You ought to strive for a middle ground. You can say that yes, I made that mistake and I won’t make it again, because I’m a good worker who is trying hard. I made a mistake… a mistake that could happen to anyone.
6. Own your flaws and mistakes.
In this grand age of social media, bright smiles, and superficiality, people crave authenticity.
One way to earn respect is to own who you are, for better or worse, negative or positive.
That doesn’t mean to accept and continue to do negative things. It’s standing up and owning that you are a flawed human being, and knowing that that isn’t such a terrible thing.
Everyone makes mistakes. Those who claim not to are lying.
Mistakes are what prompt us to grow as a person, develop better habits and character, and garner respect from others.
No one wants to associate or work with people who try to weasel their way out of their mistakes and responsibilities.
Clean up your own messes, whether they are metaphorical or physical.
7. Work on developing self-confidence.
Nothing is more of a turn off than someone who is desperate for approval.
A person who is desperate for approval or respect often takes actions that demonstrate that they are wanting and needy.
People interpret this type of behavior to be indicative of high-maintenance or low self-esteem, which presents a possible drain on their own resources.
Other people may be kind or nice about it so as to be polite, but it will cost you both self-respect and respect from others.
Self-confidence is the backbone of all respect…
…it’s what tells you to speak up for yourself or someone else when you perceive something to be wrong.
…it’s what guides you in treating other people with compassion and respect.
…it’s what helps you know that you can accomplish the things that you will set out to do, and even if not, know that you will walk away with more experience, better character, your self-respect, and whatever respect you earned along the way.