14 classic traits of people who are respected by everyone they know

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

We all look up to different people for different reasons.

It might be the challenges they’ve surpassed or their incredible contributions to society. It might be because of their unwavering faith in themselves or even in us.

But despite these differences, there are definitely some commonalities.

Here I want to look at 14 classic traits of people who are respected by everyone they know. 

This will help us understand why some people are so respected and, perhaps, even lead us to cultivate these respectable traits in ourselves.

So if you’re ready, let’s dive right into the characteristics that make some humans unquestionably respectable.

1) Respectfulness

The most significant trait that respected people share is their respectfulness for others.

This can encompass respecting other people’s time and contributions, but it also means recognizing people and paying attention to them.

It means not judging others for their faults and even giving them the benefit of the doubt.

This is the classic trait of people who understand and practice the Golden Rule – treat others the way you’d like to be treated.

In other words, respect begets respect.

2) Politeness

What is politeness, really, aside from treating other people with respect?

Being polite is more than just including your P’s and Q’s.

It’s about approaching others with a certain perspective, and that’s one in which you’re careful to let people know you appreciate them.

Think about saying “Excuse me” before asking where the toilets are.

The meaning of your question would be the same without adding this nicety, but the overall message wouldn’t. It would be missing a show of respect for the other person’s personal space and an apology for intruding into it.

People who are respected show they respect and value others by being polite, and this gets them treated well right back. 

3) Authenticity

It’s hard to respect people for being something they’re not – except if they’re actors!

But people who are authentic are easy to feel respect and admiration for.

These are people who have their own characters and opinions, values and preferences, and they stick to them.

They don’t hide them away to fit in with the group or pretend to be something or someone else to fit a situation. 

They’re supremely themselves, and it’s a very admirable quality.

4) Determination

When people try and fail, we still always seem to respect their determination.

Being able to go after something you want or that you believe in, even in the face of almost certain failure, really shows a strength of character that most of us wish we had. 

I know that I almost always wish I had tried harder and not given up so easily every time I ran into resistance, in work, in school, and especially in my love life.

I think that’s why we respect determination so much – people who have it do the things they believe in, even when they’re hard.

5) Grit 

While determination means not giving up, grit is a little bit different.

To me, it means being able to take one on the chin and not waver. People who have grit have battle scars, but they’re not afraid to show them or even to collect more.

These are people who have been beaten down but have gotten right back up and kept fighting.

They’re some of the strongest sports heroes and most popular politicians in the world. 

But they might also be the people right there in your friends and family who are respected by everyone they know.

6) Empathy

Emotional intelligence is so much more important than IQ when it comes to respect.

Think about it – how many times have you heard someone say, “He’s incredibly bright, but he’s a total jerk,” in an admiring way?

Being able to understand other people’s feelings and motivations, their struggles, and the sources of their pride are incredibly admirable.

This empathy helps us to live successfully with others and get by even in the toughest of social situations. And it’s one of the most important qualities a person can have.

7) Helpfulness 

Have you ever made a really big sacrifice to help out someone in need?

Or perhaps you’ve dedicated your time and energy to working for a charity.

The drive to help others is a classic trait that people truly respect and appreciate. 

Life can be tough, and for someone to take the time to come from a comfortable position to lend others a hand when they don’t even need, it really gets my respect.

8) Confidence 

There’s really nothing more classic than confidence.

But it has to be genuine confidence, not misplaced over-confidence.

When people have faith in themselves and their abilities, they can truly inspire others and also be seen as leaders. 

These people are respected because they have high levels of self-respect, and that also means they don’t let others take advantage of them or walk all over them.

Not that they would want to.

Even users respect confident people and know that they aren’t going to be able to use them.

 9) Open-mindedness

It’s hard to respect someone who closes their mind to other people’s ideas and opinions.

If someone is so set in their ways and their thoughts that they can’t let anything new in, they’re definitely going to miss out on new and better perspectives.

But people who are respected by everyone they know don’t shut themselves off.

Even though they may seem fully confident in their ideas, they really operate under the assumption that those are the best ideas until something comes around that can be shown to be better.

So they’re open to change and are confident enough to be able to see when they need to update their thinking.

10) Honesty

No one respects dishonesty, at least not totally.

Even career criminals who might lie, cheat, and steal for a living have a code of honesty amongst themselves, and if that’s ever broken – look out!

And honesty includes two parts: being honest with others and being honest with yourself.

So not only do people respect being outwardly honest, they can also see and respect when someone is inwardly honest.

These people don’t over-extend themselves or over-promise, nor do they exaggerate their abilities.

Their internal and external truths are synched up, making for very robust personalities we can all admire.

11) Calmness / Cool-headedness

We love a person who can stay cool under pressure.

Just look at all those action heroes people revere who walk calmly away while massive explosions go off behind them.


For most of us, though, cool-headedness is demonstrated by the people we see who can perform well under pressure or even in the face of aggression.

Since most of us would lose our cool in these situations, it’s very easy to respect a person who doesn’t.

12) Humility

We all know people who we think are smarter, stronger, more attractive, or more charismatic than pretty much everyone else.

But that doesn’t automatically mean we’ll respect them.

So what if you’re big, strong, handsome, and clever?

If you’re conceited about it, most people are going to feel anything but respect for you!

By contrast, those people who everyone respects are usually very humble about their skills and characters are people we’re happy to see held up on pedestals.

13) Positivity

Who likes a Negative Nellie?

No one, I think.

Negativity is infectious, but most of us feel its pathogens clinging onto us and try to get away before we catch too bad a case of it.

But everyone wants to connect with positivity, so long as it’s realistic.

We don’t really respect people who try to fool themselves or exaggerate by saying things like “Everything’s coming up roses!” in the middle of an earthquake.

But people who can stay appropriately positive even in the face of true struggle are people who are respected by everyone they know.

14) Morality

People who gain our respect almost always have unshakable morals.

I don’t mean that they are moralizers, though, by any means.

Moralizers try to force their moral code onto others, and for most of us, this comes across as a deep sign of disrespect.

I’m talking instead about people with a strong moral code that they stick to and simply never abandon.

They know what they think is right or wrong, and by never wavering from this, they gain lots of respect.

Traits we all respect

These 14 classic traits are held in common by people who are respected by everyone they know, no matter where they go.

Together, they speak to a trueness of character and benevolent behaviors that we all admire in other human beings.

These people become leaders and pillars of society based on the characteristics that build them and everyone around them up.

If someone displays these 18 behaviors, they have a major sense of entitlement

If you’ve already learned these 8 lessons, you’re wiser than you realize