In today’s world, respect is often seen as an afterthought, and at times as something of an old-school virtue. With millions of teenagers and college-educated professionals treating the cast of “The Real Housewives of……” and “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” as their role models, respect is often taken for granted or is ignored as something we need to actively cultivate. Too often, if it is considered, it is seen as a right – rather than something to be earned.
However, you can earn (and should seek) the respect of the people you interact with every day – friends, colleagues, clients, and mentors. The actions you take do make a difference.
Use these ideas to command and receive the respect of those you interact with:
- Carry yourself in a respectable manner: Act in a manner that communicates to others that you should be taken seriously. Consider your conduct and act with tact in all circumstances. If you are not currently commanding the respect you seek, look at the conduct and consider whether it has been worthy or deserving of respect.
- Carry yourself with quiet confidence, not be mistaken for arrogance or pride. Act in a way that would make your parents or mentors proud of you. Just because you can make a joke, doesn’t mean you should. Do you have a mastery of your area of expertise, or are your peers having to constantly correct you, or make up for your errors?
- We all deserve a base level of respect, but the respect we are discussing, has to be earned and there may be things you are doing that are inadvertently undermining the respect you are seeking. Remember, even people who disagree with each other can respect one another, so if you aren’t being respected, and the person you are dealing with isn’t immature or foolish, there may be things you need to adjust in your own conduct.
- Are you a motor-mouth? Do you constantly find yourself talking, or dominating a conversation? Are you constantly offering an opinion where none has been sought? A great way to have a greater impact is not to speak more, but less, allowing your words, opinions, and ideas to have a greater impact – scarcity creates demand. It also allows you to offer ideas of merit, rather than simply filling space.
2. Follow the Golden Rule: Treat others with respect and they’ll treat you according to the tone you’ve set. Act with immaturity, and people will treat you as such. People will set boundaries (express or implied) that they expect you to respect. If you cross them intentionally, you’re digging your own hole. Treat everyone with the level of respect you desire for yourself. A large law firm partner I once worked for made a point of observing how his junior associates treated the secretaries. Those who treated their secretaries with respect and dignity found that they were treated in the same way, not only by the administrative staff but by their bosses. Those who, out of pride and immaturity, did not offer them the respect they wanted for themselves not only failed to command respect, but they soon found themselves looking for another job.
- Remember, you get more bees with honey than you do with vinegar. In instances where you are treated in a disrespectful manner, your first instinct should be to act with maturity; walk away, kill them with class, and smile… By doing so, others will perceive you in a positive light and respond in your favor. A good person is one who chooses to be good, despite having the capacity to do wrong. A weak person is good because they have no option, but to be so – choose to take the mature high ground, even when you are tempted to do the very opposite.
3. You are roughly the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. If you’re surrounded by fools, the chances are that you have some maturing to do. It’s important to realize that some people simply think that they’re above any moral laws. These types of people will do what they want, when they want, and blurt out the thoughts in their mind with total disregard to the emotions of anyone else. These are ‘I have no filter’ or the ‘I speak my mind’ crowd. Yes, there are times where you should speak your mind and take a stand, but if you are always ‘speaking your mind’ it loses all impact and just becomes the same noise you’ve offered time and time again.
- Who are the people in your life? How are they influencing you, and is that a good thing, or a detriment to you? You are your very first priority – if you don’t respect yourself, why should anyone else? If you allow yourself to be treated unfairly by others, you’re broadcasting that it’s okay to treat you like a doormat. Suffer no fools.
4. Conduct yourself with class. There will be times where you are tempted to an emotional response – resist that temptation and keep your mind clear, and calm. Those who can remain calm under pressure, and in conflict cannot help but earn the respect of friend and foe alike. Anger is a secondary emotion that rarely serves you well, even when it is righteous anger.
The class also demands that you resist the urge to gossip or talk ill of others. You’ll be admired as someone who refuses to buy into gossip and win the trust and respect, of those around you. This won’t always be easy, but it will always be classy.
- Make it a point to be aware of your actions and reactions and think before you speak. When you do, you’re indirectly commanding the respect of others.
5. Be realistic. If you’re trying to be on equal footing with your elders, or the higher-ups in your company, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. It’s important to understand that there will always be a group of people that are above you, in a certain sense. Hierarchies exist, and often with good reason if those reasons aren’t immediately apparent; treat them with respect.
- There’s an unspoken rule in social and corporate ranking systems. The older you are, the more respect you deserve from society. The higher you are within the company, the more respect you command. This takes time, as it did for everyone. Your time will come, be patient and diligent, respect takes time to build, and sometimes only an instant to destroy.
6. Nobody respects incompetence. The quality of your work and the manner in which you conduct that work will inevitably warrant the respect of others. Outstanding effort and a commitment to excellence is apparent in anyone worthy of respect.
- Always be learning. This doesn’t mean you need to be constantly seeking a new degree or doctorate, but a deliberate and committed life-long learner. This of course requires you to be humble enough to admit what you don’t know, but that desire for knowledge can’t help but propel you, and the quality of your work. It will also boost your self-esteem, income, and career achievements. Plus, the dedication it requires will inevitably command the respect of those around you.
Remember, the easiest way to command respect from everyone around you is to be the kind of person who you, yourself would respect. Hold yourself, and your actions to a higher standard; treat those around you with respect and dignity.
Be worthy of respect, and the respect you seek will follow.
- The Professionists