Leader at work asking for collaboration from her team
When Aretha Franklin sang those iconic lyrics 56 years ago, she was singing something that should serve as an anthem for all of us as humans: “All I’m askin’ is for a little respect…”
In fact, a lot of respect is a good thing too—for instance, according to the American Psychological Association’s 2023 Work in America Survey, 95% of respondents said that it’s very or somewhat important to them to feel respected at work, which makes respect a top of mind priority in our work lives.
It's only natural that our need to be respected easily creeps its way into other aspects of our lives. Parents want their children to respect them, partners want to have mutual respect for one another and a basic level of respect should exist among friends and even strangers.
In other words, it’s safe to say respect is something that every person desires. But how do you get people to respect you more? And at its core, why is it important that people respect others?
Why Is It Important That People Respect Others?
Reena B. Patel, parenting expert, positive psychologist and licensed educational board certified behavior analyst, defines respect as showing regard for someone's abilities and worth, while also valuing their feelings and their views—even if you don’t necessarily agree with them. She adds that respect also includes accepting that person on an equal basis and giving them the same consideration you would expect others to treat you.
Dr. Charissa Chamorro, licensed clinical psychologist, shares a similar view, saying that respect is genuine and involves treating others with courtesy.
“If there is respect, there is a likelihood of compliance, the ability to be heard, collaborate, have peace and make progress,” Patel says. “It's so important for you to show and have respect back. Respect in your relationships builds feelings of trust, safety and overall positive wellbeing.”
Dr. Chamorro makes the point that when someone wants more respect from someone, they are often yearning to be valued and treated with positive regard.
“It’s a natural human desire to be understood, valued and to feel important. The desire to be respected is universal,” she says.
Signs That Someone Isn’t Respecting You
Whether it’s a friendship, a relationship with a colleague or even your own marriage, perhaps you’ve sensed that at times, you’re not being respected. If you’re feeling unsure whether or not you’ve been disrespected, our experts share clear signs that someone isn’t showing you respect. They include:
A lack of empathy
Raising their voice
Diminishing feelings, skills or traits
Interrupting during conversation or not listening
Using sarcasm or mockery
Acting like they know better than you
Although these aren’t great traits (these are clearly things that a person should work on—and it’s not up to you to better them), there are behavior tweaks you can adapt so you generally garner more respect from others.
“Respecting others generates respect,” Dr. Chamorro says. “Respect is also earned through responsible and consistent actions. Through mutual respect, consistency and responsible actions, you can generate genuine respect from others.”
And remember—even if you adopt these habits and the person still continues to disrespect you, it might be time to move on from the relationship and/or chalk it up to a person refusing to change.
Note: Keep in mind that these habit recommendations are for situations in which you want people to generally respect you more or if there’s a person in your life who occasionally disrespects you. These do not apply to toxic or even dangerous levels of disrespect (i.e. a person is physically, verbally or emotionally abusive toward you).
In abusive situations, help is available through the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 800-799-7233.
How To Gain Respect: 14 Tiny Behavior Tweaks That Make People Respect You More
1. Use confident body language.
To inspire respect in others, Patel recommends using body language and acting as though you are confident (i.e. a positive posture).
“How you carry yourself speaks volumes!” she says. “Your body language is key and commands respect without having to say a word.”
2. Avoid gossip.
Dr. Chamorro says that it can be helpful to avoid gossip if you want people to respect you more.
“People who are confident in themselves don’t feel the need to bring others down,” she says. “Respectfully speaking about others shows that you have integrity and generates respect.”
3. Give your full attention.
Dr. Chamorro also suggests providing your full attention when you’re speaking with someone. This includes making eye contact and asking meaningful questions to show engagement.
“These actions convey respect for the other person, and when people feel respected, they tend to respect the other person as well,” she says.
4. Be mindful of people’s boundaries.
When looking for more respect, Dr. Chamorro emphasizes being mindful of people’s personal boundaries and their personal space. She says, “When you demonstrate respect for other people’s boundaries, they will often admire the effort, and admiration leads to respect.”
5. Speak positively.
“Often when you speak negatively, it raises red flags and questions, but having a positive outlook makes people feel drawn to you and respect you,” Patel observes.
6. Express gratitude.
Dr. Chamorro says that expressing gratitude shows that you are appreciative of other people. This makes people feel good and appreciated. “When you generate positive feelings of respect in others, their respect for you will often grow,” she says.
7. Be punctual.
Although it seems a bit old-school, good manners will still get you a long way in today’s world, especially when it comes to respect. One way to practice good manners? Try your best to always be on time.
“Be on time for meetings, appointments and social gatherings,” Dr. Chamorro says. “This reflects responsibility and respect for other people’s time. People tend to respect those who are responsible and thoughtful of others.”
8. Be honest.
“When you are consistently honest, people learn that they can trust you and your word, and this can generate respect,” Dr. Chamorro says.
9. Surround yourself with supportive people.
Patel says that in order to garner more respect, it can help to surround yourself with individuals who are positive and supportive of your best interests. She says, “Who you associate yourself with is really important and has an impact on you and how people see you.”
10. Do some practicing.
“Practice your way to a more confident self,” Patel says. “Picture yourself in the typical kinds of situations or conversations that make you feel undervalued and disrespected. Imagine how you’d like to respond if you were brave, confident and assertive. Then begin to use those responses in real situations. You might be tentative and anxious at first, but work toward that image of calm assertiveness that you’ve envisaged for yourself.”
11. Focus on self-control.
Patel also stresses the importance of self-control.
“Don't be irrational and think before doing,” she says. “Being intentional is really important when gaining respect because it shows that you have thought the situation through and have the knowledge that people will want to follow.”
12. Express empathy.
Empathy is key when you want others to respect you more. Dr. Chamorro says that when you empathize with another person’s feelings, it creates trust and connection, and this can lead the other person to feel greater respect for you.
13. Celebrate others’ successes.
“Celebrate the successes of others,” Dr. Chamorro says. “When you share genuine happiness for the success of others, it shows consideration for others and that you are secure enough in yourself to be happy for others. This also demonstrates that you have self-confidence. People respect those who are confident in themselves.”
14. Be authentic.
“Be authentic and be you!” Patel says. “People love you for you, so be just that! If you are trying to be someone else, you will not come across as real or relatable.”
American Psychological Association: “2023 Work in America Survey”
Reena B. Patel, parenting expert, positive psychologist and licensed educational board certified behavior analyst
Dr. Charissa Chamorro, licensed clinical psychologist