Earning Respect from Everyone You Know

“I get no respect!”

Most of Rodney Dangerfield’s one-liner stand-up comedy zingers were some form of self-deprecation that ended in that catchphrase.

No respect.

I think all of us, deep down, want respect. Psychologists, in fact, say that while women want love and affection more than anything, what men chiefly desire is to be respected. Being respected is what makes them feel loved and valued.

All men want to be respected.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the reality. We’re not always in the position where we have the respect we believe we deserve. It might be in a relationship, or it might be in a job. Regardless, not having the respect of the people in our lives can be a serious issue for men. So what can we do about it?

These are my top tips for getting respect: from your boss, your mother-in-law, and everyone in between.

7 Tips for Earning the Respect You Deserve

1) Dress the part.

As much as we want to believe that appearances don’t play a part in these things, they do. It’s not so much about your physical appearance as it is about your presentation. Get clothes that fit you right. Have at least one well-tailored suit. Stay up-to-date on your haircuts. While you don’t want to show up in a three-piece suit if your office is business casual, you can still elevate your ensemble if everyone else tends to slouch. Opt for a tie. Spring for a great blazer.

You might be surprised how much kicking your wardrobe up a notch can change people’s perceptions of you.

2) Respect yourself.

One of the biggest obstacles to earning the respect of others is a lack of respect for yourself. If you lack confidence, if you’re beating yourself up, or if you don’t actually have feelings of self-worth...how is anyone else going to give it to you? You have to learn to respect yourself first. Demand it of yourself. It might start with daily self-affirmation. It might sound silly at first, but give yourself a pep talk in the mirror.

Stop bending over backward to accommodate other people because you believe you’re less valuable than they are. Don’t make the mistake of making yourself invisible.

3) Respect dates and deadlines.

The number one way you lose people’s respect is to disrespect their time. Missing appointments, missing deadlines, holding them late, whatever it is—if you don’t respect their time and reasonable expectations, it’s hard to earn their respect.

4) Treat everyone well.

How you treat others is always telling. Whether it’s an employee lower than you on the food chain, a waitress at a restaurant, or other drivers in bad traffic, they matter. People are always watching to see how you treat other people, and they will respect or not respect you based on your response. Are kind or rude? Hot-headed or calm?

When in doubt, be kind. Be personable. There’s nothing worse than an over-inflated ego who mistreats someone just because he’s higher on the totem pole.

5) Practice discretion.

Discretion, as they say, is a virtue. It also takes many forms. Discretion in some ways is just learning when not to say anything. When not to crack a joke or tease someone you don’t need to tease. When not to reveal information that isn’t yours to reveal. Discretion might also just be your own good judgment: just don’t involve yourself in a potentially bad or compromising situation that could tarnish your reputation.

If you want respect, be discreet and think before you speak and act.

6) Think outside yourself.

People who are respected tend to put others before themselves. Have you noticed that? If you want respect, start looking around you for ways you can help others. Your wife will respect you more if you take initiative to help around the house, especially when you know she’s exhausted. What about taking initiative at the office? Participating in volunteer work and charities?

These are not things to do just to earn respect, but you will find it comes with the territory.

7) Take the higher road.

Lastly, if you want respect, take the high road. When it comes to quarrels and disagreements, but the first to try to make peace. Never be the one to escalate or retaliate and never give anyone reason to believe a bad word said about you. If you refuse to engage and instead hold your head high, you’ll find that, even if you don’t win the fight, you will have won something far more important.

At the end of the day, it may be impossible to win over everyone in your life. That said, if you do everything in your power to live with integrity, honor, and aiming for greatness, you can rest easy knowing that if someone doesn't respect you...it's their problem, not yours.