Welcome to your ultimate guide to commanding respect from others in all aspects of your life. Here are 13 tips you can practice to not only improve your confidence but to make others take notice and give you the respect you’ve been searching for. With these tips, you’ll be able to:
- Gain more respect from your friends and peers
- Command respect in your workplace
- Find ways to respect yourself
- Have the confidence to make long-lasting changes in your life
As you can see by the comments on this article, the methods listed here are powerful. You shouldn’t try to take all 13 on at once but instead focus on a single method first. Once you’re comfortable with that new skill, you move on and try another method if you’d like. If you can improve in just one of these areas, you will notice significant changes in how people treat you and how you view yourself.
How to be more respected by others
1. R-E-S-P-E-C-T: What does it mean to you?
Before we can focus on tips on how to make others respect you, we first need to look at self-respect and what effect that has on how others perceive you. (Hint: It’s pretty important.)
Self-respect is defined as “pride and confidence in oneself”. If you’d like others to view you in a certain light, you’ll need to see yourself in that way first. Self-respect is all about a belief in yourself and what you can do and is not dependent on how others view you.
If you’d like to be seen as an authority at work, you’ll want to first see yourself as an authority figure. If you want your family to be less critical and trust you more, you’ll have to trust yourself first. The way that you see yourself will determine how others see you, too.
One professor at Harvard says, “with self-respect, we like ourselves because of who we are and not because of what we can or cannot do. Self-respect… is a given.”
If you’re wondering how to gain more self-respect, you’re in the right place. One way to respect yourself more is to build up your confidence. Before going into any of the exercises below, you’ll need to have enough confidence in yourself to put one of the exercises into place. The more confident you are, the more convincing you’ll be to others.
Once you establish a basis of self-respect and have the confidence to make a few changes in your own life, you can begin making changes with the intention of being more respected by others. Here are some ways to gain respect from your friends, family, colleagues, and strangers in your life:
2. Admit when you’re wrong and be humble about your mistakes
Fredrik was one of my best friends while in college and we made it a habit to study together in a group after class along with some of our other classmates. Whenever he was wrong about anything whatsoever, he immediately said: “You’re right. I agree.” The remarkable part? He really meant it, too. You could hear the sincerity in his voice.
I was so humbled and impressed by his ability to accept his mistakes and move on from them.
Whenever he spoke, everyone listened. From my point of view, he was the most respected person in our group of friends because of his ability to see his own shortcomings. For this and many other reasons, he was the most humble and mature of us all, by far. I learned a lot from him and I still deeply respect him.
It wasn’t until later that I realized exactly why I admire Fredrik so much. According to Elliot Aronson from the University of Santa Cruz, people are hardwired to go to incredible lengths to prove that they are right, even when they are clearly not.
The two-factor theory of emotion shows that when people were injected with a drug and weren’t told about the side effects beforehand, they made up reasons as to why their palms were sweaty. Even if people have no idea what’s happening to them, they have the tendency to come up with reasons to justify their actions, even if those reasons are completely wrong and have no real life basis.
Chances are if you’ve realized you’re wrong, someone else has realized it too. It takes courage and strength to admit that you made a mistake, especially if you’re in a position of power. Being humble and admitting fault shows the strength of your character, and is a trait that many great leaders (especially in business) have. Fredrik knew that admitting fault was more honorable than justifying something that’s incorrect, and he gained the respect of all of his peers for it.
3. Don’t apologize when you’ve done nothing wrong
Have you ever been to a crowded concert and had someone accidentally spill their drink on you? Out of pure habit, you utter an “I’m sorry”, even though you clearly did nothing wrong and are now covered in margarita.
Over-apologizing is a sign that you’re a more submissive rather than a dominant person. If you want to gain respect from others, you’ll need to save your apologies for the times that you’re actually sorry (such as when you’re the person that accidentally spills your margarita on a perfect stranger).
One way to stop saying “I’m sorry” is to replace the phrase with a simple “thank you”. When you say thank you instead of I’m sorry, you’re changing the entire dynamic of the conversation and how the other person will perceive you. Thank you shows appreciation for the other person for their time and switches your mindset from an apologetic one to one of gratitude. The other person will also appreciate not needing to reassure you that you’ve done nothing wrong, too.
Don’t apologize for your mere presence, for stating your opinion, or for disagreeing. You don’t need to apologize if you don’t want to do something, either. Your opinions and presence matter, which means that apologies are not necessary for just being around. By not “sorry-ing” your way through a conversation, you’ll be more respected.
4. Present yourself respectably
You’ll want to dress appropriately according to the situation that you’re in. Clean, well-fitting clothes go a long way when making a good impression on others. While you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) blow through your bank account to do this, it’s important to dress the part.
Clothing not only affects the way that others view you, it affects the way that you view yourself in certain situations. Researchers from Northwestern University coined the term “enclothed cognition” (1), which describes how the clothing that you wear actually changes the way you view yourself. In the study, participants that were wearing lab coats viewed themselves as more careful and attentive than participants that weren’t wearing a lab coat. There was nothing different between the groups of participants other than the clothing they were wearing.
In the book Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashion (2), it’s also been shown that you may adopt characteristics of the clothing that you’re wearing subconsciously. For example, if you’re wearing a suit, you may feel more confident in the same situation than if you were wearing a simple button down.
Overall, these studies show that if you start wearing clothes that are more professional rather than sloppy, you’ll feel more confident. When you feel more confident, others will see your confidence and begin to see you in a position of someone they will respect.
One way to start this process is to practice improving your grooming habits. Make sure you smell great, and that you take special care of your hair, teeth, and nails. Even if this means changing your shampoo to one that you like more than your current one, that’s enough of an improvement for others to start noticing changes. Once you perfect the fundamentals, you can focus on tailoring your clothes and making larger (and more expensive) changes.
I know what you’re thinking: Yes, the world is an incredibly superficial one. No, you shouldn’t need to change the way you present yourself to gain respect. Even though this shouldn’t be something you need to do, making small tweaks will help you increase your own confidence, which means any changes you make will be personally worth it in the long run.
5. Don’t let your negative emotions get the best of you
To earn respect, you absolutely must practice remaining calm and collected in public, regardless of the situation. We’ll all be faced with incredibly difficult situations at times that any person would naturally have an outburst during. If you lose your cool and allow emotions to take over, it can influence the way others view and respect you.
If you happen to accidentally curse out a coworker, be sure to follow our first step and make sure that you admit that you were wrong for losing your cool. Taking out your frustrations in private is an effective way to let your emotions out without lessening the respect that others feel for you.
If you feel that you struggle with keeping calm, here are some tips from our guide how to be a more outgoing person that will help you keep your negative emotions under control:
- You shouldn’t react emotionally when you are in a discussion or an argument. A well-respected person can keep their cool when others cannot when faced with the same task. While another person may raise their voice to accuse you of something, you should respond in a calm manner. When you effectively respond to people that are hot-tempered, you can diffuse an intense situation and earn the respect of others as a byproduct.
- You should also remain calm when placed in tense situations. For example, let’s say your work environment is incredibly stressful and it’s starting to get to you. Given this environment, it would be easy for you to lose your cool when your coworker asks you the same question for the 40th time. However, if you maintain a level head by speaking in a soothing voice and not allowing the negative to take over, you show command over the situation. This can attract others to you because they’ll see you as an office leader rather than someone they’ll want to avoid
6. Show that you are a leader
People will naturally listen to and follow others whom they respect or hold in high regard. With this in mind, having the characteristics of a leader will make it easier for you to earn the respect of others. Here are some qualities that great leaders have:
You possess great communication skills
Great communication skills mean you have the innate ability to speak to others on a wide variety of topics. Even more important than being able to keep up a conversation, you are able to engage the listener with only your words.
To accomplish this, you should refrain from telling dirty jokes and using language that includes cuss words or yelling. Instead, you’ll want to come off as warm, friendly, and speak with knowledge on the conversation topic (even if you don’t actually know much about the topic at hand).
Leaders also don’t speak with uncertainty by using filler words like “uhm” and “erhm”. Filler words distract the listener and can take away from the point that you’re making in your conversation or presentation. Avoiding fillers is a process that takes practice and a lot of self-evaluation, so you uhm, shouldn’t be like discouraged if you don’t, uhh, nail eliminating fillers at first.
Speaking of fillers, great leaders also don’t try to end awkward silences with filler material. They are confident no matter what the situation entails and are experts at embracing silence. Since silence makes less confident individuals nervous, this is a tell-tale sign of a leader.
Your body language commands respect
To be seen as a leader, you’ll want to stand tall when you walk, establish confident eye contact with those you speak to, and maintain a steady voice throughout your conversations. Conversely, if you speak timidly with your shoulders huddled and you have a habit of talking to your shoes, people will not see you as a very confident person.
It is much harder for people to have confidence in you if you don’t show outwardly that you have confidence in yourself. (I reiterate, self-respect is important before gaining respect from others.)
To practice your communication skills and body language, you can tell a trusted friend that you’re working on improving your confidence, and they can give you feedback on how you’re doing and what they see that you can improve on. Having someone other than yourself give you critiques can give you insight on how you’re viewed, which can let you know what you should focus on improving.
Overall, leaders exhibit these skills naturally. This means they don’t try to act confident, they just are. If that seems a bit discouraging, don’t worry. Even the best of leaders have worked on improving their posture and communication skills for years, which means that you can also seem as confident as they are with a bit of intentional practice.
Being more like a leader took me years to master. When I started taking the time to speak to others with the task of improving my communication skills, I was amazed at how much confidence I gained from just practicing. As I got better at seeing myself as a leader, I noticed that my friends would increasingly ask for my feedback when they needed help. Even if you have to take baby steps to improve your communication skills, doing as something as small as watching yourself in the mirror while speaking is a good first step towards gaining confidence.
7. You are a problem solver
One of the best ways to earn the respect of your peers is to master the art of problem-solving. When you become skilled at solving problems, people will start to look to you for advice and start seeing you as an authority figure. When you’re the one others go to for help, that means they are actively seeking out what you have to say to help them; that’s a sure-fire sign you’re respected.
Here is a guide to help you master your problem-solving skills:
- You don’t react negatively or emotionally to problems. (See step 5 for more detail above.) For example, let’s say you’re on a trip with a group of coworkers and your hotel doesn’t have your reservations on file. Certainly, this would be a pretty frustrating problem. If this were to happen, you wouldn’t want to complain about the problem to the bearer of bad news since it’s not their fault. Instead, you’d keep your cool and fix your reservations in the best way possible.
- You address the problem head-on. In our hotel example, one solution could be to show the attendant your work’s travel itinerary and ask them if there are any openings available. Another solution could be to call whoever made the arrangements to see if they have receipts for the deposits. Your goal is to find actionable steps to solve your problems instead of complaining to the void about it.
- You are diplomatic in your responses. Even if the attendant in our example is rude or unhelpful, you take the high road. You treat them with respect and you work together to find a solution, despite any snarky comments made. By doing this, you show your coworkers you are in total control of the situation, which can show them you’re a leader that gets the job done.
8. Earn respect by giving it
As you develop confidence, it’s important that you remain humble. Remember what I said about Fredrik in our first tip? Part of the reason that he was so well respected was that he knew when to step back humbly and admit his faults.
Arrogance does show confidence but in the least attractive of ways. Instead, you’ll want to treat others with kindness. The golden rule applies here: respect others the way you want to be respected.
When you treat others with respect, people will notice and appreciate the kindness you show and will hopefully respond in kind. While you won’t be able to please everyone all of the time, being nice will gain respect from some of your peers.
Of course, you still need to keep clear boundaries when people are disrespectful. The trick to doing this is to remain assertive while not crossing the boundary to aggressive. Aggressive individuals often don’t get their point across well and often feel isolated from others. You’ll want to learn how to assert yourself in a disagreement while keeping calm, remaining respectful, and understanding the other person’s point of view to come up with a solution to the problem (like you learned in step 7).
9. Keep your word
The easiest way to lose respect is to say you’ll do something and don’t follow through on your promises. If you want to earn respect, you must show that you are dependable and that people can count on you to help them when they need it.
When you commit to meetings or obligations, you’ll want to be sure that you follow through on them. When you become someone that others can count on, people will see you as a problem solver (see 7) and will, therefore, view you as a leader (see 6). Keeping to your word will show others that they can trust you enough to help them, which earns respect.
10. Set clear boundaries
What happens if people take your kindness and compassion for granted? What do you do when someone disrespects you and questions your authority? What about if someone is rude or mean towards you or someone else? These situations and patterns show up when you may need to further clarify the boundaries and the relationships between you and others.
So, how does one go about setting boundaries? You’ll want to follow these tips:
- Identify and define your boundary in the relevant situation.
- Use non-emotional language to tell the other person they stepped over your boundary. “When you do X, I feel Y, can you do Z instead?”
- Listen to their point of view.
For example, let’s say you asked someone a question and they rudely and unexpectedly say “F*** off”. Well, obviously that’s not the response that you were expecting. So, what do you do? First, you’ll want to ask yourself, is this something I’m willing to accept? If the answer is no, go on and courteously tell them what they did wasn’t ok. Remember to keep your calm (see 5 above).
The most effective way to set a boundary in a situation like this is to say something along the lines of: “When you say that to me, it makes me feel disrespected. Can you please answer my question seriously instead?” Then, you’d listen to their response and see if you can come to an understanding.
The kind of communication employed in the situation above is called “I messages” or “I statements”. When making an “I statement”, you’re focusing on your values and beliefs instead of focusing on the other person’s faults. These messages are used to make the other person know you’re being assertive without making them feel like they need to be on the defensive. These statements work incredibly well when giving constructive criticism or in dispute resolution, so I highly recommend practicing making these kinds of statements.
But what should you do if the other person still doesn’t listen?
If you have some sort of relationship with the other person that isn’t listening, using “I statements” should work well in getting respect from the other person. As long as you both value the relationship between you in some way and you aim to have a functional relationship together, they will probably listen sooner or later.
However, the other person may not be interested in having a healthy relationship with you (like our random margarita stranger). The method of using “I statements” is more of a throw of the dice in that case. When in chance situations, they may listen, they may not. If they don’t have any desire to listen, it’s more than okay to simply walk away instead of losing your cool.
Common mistakes made when trying to get respect
11. Showing you’re smarter than others
Being smarter than others is genuinely not a problem if you know more about a certain topic or if you have experience in a field as long as you’re respectful of the other person. There will be times that you actually do know more about a certain topic, so this situation is entirely unavoidable.
The difference between knowing something and blatantly showing off to others is a fine line that is important to make sure you don’t cross when gaining respect. If you go out of your way to simply correct others or endlessly lecture them on a certain topic, you may be seen as having an underlying insecurity or you think that you’re just better than others.
If you’re showing off your knowledge with the sole intention of making others respect you, you’re not sharing your knowledge with pure intentions. You’ll want to share what you know in a respectful way that doesn’t insult the other person’s ego or belittle them in any way.
Have you ever respected someone for talking down to you because you didn’t know something obscure that they did? Neither have I. If you’re not intentional about the way you convey information, being a showoff is such an easy trap to fall into. It’s natural to think that if we prove how smart we are, people will like and respect us, however, It’s important to remember how we share information is just as important as what we’re sharing.
12. Showing you’re richer or have something others don’t
If you’re fortunate enough to be wealthier than others, showing it off is not an effective way to gain respect from others. If you flaunt your wealth to impress, you may end up actually sending the wrong message to who you’re wanting respect from.
Studies conducted by University of California at Berkeley show that if you think you’re in a higher social class than someone else, you’ll tend to show less empathy towards other people. The studies also show that if you’re the person with less money, you’ll also view the richer person as having less empathy. The stereotype that richer people have little empathy may not be true in real life, but studies show that the stereotype that richer people may not be as in touch with others’ feelings does have a scientific basis.
Studies by professors at the University of Michigan (3) also show that those who are perceived to have more wealth may act more unethically than others who don’t have wealth. In their studies, those who were told they were wealthy were more likely to lie, make unethical decisions, and take valued possessions from others. That doesn’t sound like a promising way to make your friends respect you.
One way to gain respect through your wealth is by being generous with your money and breaking the greed stereotype. You could buy your friends or coworkers a nice treat from time to time, but you must be careful of making a habit out of paying for stuff. You’ll want to be seen as generous, not as an ATM.
You want your peers to value and respect you for your opinions, not your assets. The same concept that we talked about above in tip 11 applies here. You may have more money, but you don’t want to make others feel less than you because they don’t. Hurting the other person’s ego and belittling them is a huge faux pas.
13. When getting respect takes a turn for the worst
We hope that this section doesn’t apply to you, but if it does, we’re here to talk you through it. If you’ve gained respect in the past by using tactics like:
- Trying to intimidate people.
- Making fun of others
- Teasing someone too much
- Belittling others
- Being mean
you may have gained some “respect” for the moment but at the cost of your lasting relationships with those people. Gaining respect in the long term is about building a relationship between two individuals; it’s not about making another person fear you enough to be your friend.
There have been hundreds of studies conducted on the psychology of bullying. Though there are a variety of reasons that bullies become one, the general idea of why bullies bully is to make others fear them in order to bring them the respect they’re looking for.
When you use tactics like the ones bulleted above to make people respect you, the reality is that people will try to avoid you at any cost. These behaviors make people feel bad about themselves, so why would anyone want to be close to someone who makes them feel scared and insecure?
If you want people to respect you and like you, you need to make them feel good about themselves when they are with you. Support and encourage your friends, protect and stand up for them, use words that will build a culture of respect for you. Recognizing that respect is a two-way street is how you forge deep, lasting relationships with people.
How respect affects different areas of your life
You can get superhero levels of respect by implementing just a few of our tips above. There’s no magic involved (unless hard work and introspection count as magic nowadays). Gaining respect all comes down to the fundamental principles we’ve already outlined.
If you need just a bit more motivation, here are some of the ways that respect can influence the relationships you already have in your life:
Respect can make you happier than money:
Making enough money to make ends meet is obviously still important, but as long as you’re a contributing and respected member of your group, you can feel happier than someone with much more money than you have. In one experiment (4), participants experienced greater happiness when they were respected and admired than if they had a perceived higher socioeconomic status.
Respect can reduce your fear of rejection:
If you’re more respected by your friends and work colleagues, you’ll have an increased self-esteem and will feel less like an outcast (5) in general. You’ll feel less scared when it comes to voicing your opinion, which will subdue your fear of rejection overall.
Respect can increase your confidence:
At the start of the article, it was mentioned that if you increase your confidence, you’ll have more self-respect. The opposite is true, too: If you gain more respect from others, your confidence will also increase. Upkeeping your appearance, improving the way you talk, and learning how to stand tall are all things that you can do in order to gain respect from others. If you’re more confident in areas like this, your stress around people will decrease overall, leaving you with even more confidence to talk to new people and establish new relationships.
What if your friends don’t take you seriously or don’t listen to you?
Of course, changing your habits is much easier said than done. Even with the steps above, the people already in your life may still not take your changes seriously. In that case, what do you do? The above principles are powerful, but depending on your situation, you may need to do something more drastic to break the pattern.
Sometimes we can get “stuck” in a role that we don’t want to be in. Especially in a well established social circle of friends, it can be hard to break out of the role you’ve had for years. In my opinion, the most important principle is to learn how to set clear boundaries (see tactic 9 above). If you’re being mocked, this guide has strategies to help you cope with teasing from your friends.
Ultimately, earning respect starts with your view of yourself. Once you gain a foundation of self-respect, you can start focusing on improving your leadership qualities to gain respect from others. Respect is all about the relationship between you and the others and making sure the relationship is an equally satisfying one. You’ll need to be willing to earn respect by being kind to others and by being dependable when they need you. When you develop these qualities, you’re sure to naturally and effortlessly earn the respect of others.
What are my next steps?
Your first task is to identify why you’re wanting to gain more respect from others and how you can increase your own self-respect before focusing on what others think.
Next, you’ll want to choose one or two tips from our list to focus on to gain more respect from others. Practice, practice, and practice some more.
Leave a comment now letting us know what tip you’re going to work on improving and why you think it will work for you. If you see someone that has a problem you overcame in the past, lend them a helping hand and give them a bit of advice on how you worked through it. SocialPro is here to help, so if you have any concerns or hesitations whatsoever (and we mean whatsoever), don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know how we can better help you.
- Adam, H., & Galinsky, A. D. (2012). Enclothed cognition. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48(4), 918-925. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2012.02.008
- Pine, K. J. (2014). Mind what you wear: The psychology of fashion. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Mind-What-You-Wear-Psychology-ebook/dp/B00KBTB3NS/ref=tmm_kin_title_sr?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1454635783&sr=8-1
- Piff, P. K., Stancato, D. M., Cote, S., Mendoza-Denton, R., & Keltner, D. (2012). Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,109(11), 4086-4091. doi:10.1073/pnas.1118373109
- Anderson, Cameron & Kraus, Michael & D Galinsky, Adam & Keltner, Dacher. (2012). The Local-Ladder Effect: Social Status and Subjective Well-Being. Psychological Science. 23. 764-71. 10.1177/0956797611434537.
- Ellemers, N., Doosje, B., & Spears, R. (2004). Sources of respect: the effects of being liked by ingroups and outgroups. European Journal of Social Psychology, 34(2), 155-172. doi:10.1002/ejsp.196