Before people can respect you, you have to respect yourself first.
This is something a lot of us are familiar with, but it’s so abstract that it can be hard to apply in our day-to-day life.
So how do you carry yourself with respect then?
In this article, I will give you 10 ways to do just that and you will be amazed at how easy and straightforward it can be.
1) Look respectable
This is one of the simplest and easiest things you can do that has almost instant results.
I don’t mean that you should wear a tuxedo even if you’re only going to Starbucks (although if that’s your thing, go for it!).
I mean, you don’t have to go crazy. Just be presentable enough that people won’t find you off-putting.
Trust me, even something as small as making sure you’re wearing well-ironed clothes and have deodorant on can do quite a lot.
I know appearances aren’t everything, but you can’t look and smell like a caveman and demand respect from others.
So take a good, long bath and dress well. Be extra hygienic and if you want, you can even put on some perfume.
Here’s a pro tip: If you’re feeling down, wear something nice even if you’re just at home and you’d feel like a VIP!
2) Stand tall even when you feel small
People aren’t always as confident as they seem to be at a glance. The large majority of us just try to pretend that we are.
But hey, that usually works!
“Fake it til you make it” is a good motto you can apply in life, especially if you have some insecurities (we all do).
So even if you’re intimidated by someone—say, a new boss or a hot date—then just don’t let it show.
Instead, show them that you’re chill…that you’re equally important as them (because you are)!
Stand tall, try not to fidget, and look at them straight in the eye. Besides, in the grand scheme of things, we’re all more or less the same.
3) Acknowledge your needs
If you feel like you need to pee in the middle of a meeting, then don’t hold it. Excuse yourself and go pee!
If you feel like you can’t handle your assignments alone, then ask others for help or tell your boss about it so that they can make some adjustments.
If you’re too tired and sleepy to think, then go take a nap. Just make sure you inform those who might be affected.
You should pay attention to your needs, and find a way to fulfill them.
Care for yourself like a loving mother cares for her child. Don’t feel guilty. Practicing self-care doesn’t make you unreasonably entitled. If anything, we all have the right to care for ourselves.
Think of how machines need regular maintenance every now and then. Self-care is just like maintenance, and if you don’t take the time to mind it, then it will force you to do so at some point.
4) Don’t try too hard to please others
A good rule of thumb is to prioritize yourself first whenever you have to choose between yourself and others.
There is no need for you to bend over backwards until your back breaks simply to please a teacher, a superior, or a date—you’re good enough simply as you are!
Every single one of us deserves respect from others, and if you must bend your knee to earn someone’s “respect”, then what they want from you is not respect but submission. And you don’t need that manipulation!
You’re already respectable as you are, so don’t kiss anyone’s ass to get approval.
5) Set boundaries and stick to them
If you don’t want others to touch your stuff without your permission, tell them. It doesn’t matter if you’re just a new trainee at your job—your stuff is yours!
If you don’t want someone borrowing more money from you because you already gave them a week ago, tell them you have nothing to give anymore and that you request them not to ask again.
Sometimes, people just keep pushing you until you set your limits and demand respect… so do just that. And keep reminding them of your boundaries (as nicely as possible) so they’ll learn to respect them.
Look, boundaries are necessary.
It doesn’t mean you’re selfish or rude for having them. You’re doing this to protect yourself. You respect yourself enough not to let others take advantage of you…which should be one of your primary duties to yourself.
6) Demand for your time to be respected
You know those people who show up one hour late? Or those who promise to submit on time and yet they do it a week later? Yeah, I hate them, too.
I don’t know how they have the audacity to even show up smiling as if everything is fine and dandy…as if it’s nothing because YOU have no other use of your time, anyway.
Time, as we know, is something that cannot be retrieved. Ever. And letting people wait is one of the cruelest offenses of mankind.
So when this happens, please tell them off. It’s disrespectful to you and they should not make it a habit.
You do your part to show up on time, and they should too.
7) Don’t let someone cut you mid-sentence
You really find it offensive when someone cuts you mid-sentence… and how could you not, when you do your best to listen when it’s their turn to speak?
If it keeps on happening, you should assert yourself and kindly request that they let you finish first and not interrupt you over and over again.
Give them another warning if they do it again, but if it happens a third time, don’t be afraid to stop listening or even walk away.
Respect is all give and take. You give people respect, so you might as well be respected yourself in turn, right?
8) Be assertive (but don’t forget to stay polite)
The examples above already allude to assertiveness, but I’d like to explore that more in its own section.
You see, most of the time, we think that being assertive means being demanding, high-strung, or—in the case of women—bitchy.
This is far from the truth, of course.
Assertiveness is about being firm in expressing what you want, and you can be as nice or mean as you need to be. And if you want to present yourself as a respectable person, you’d be polite about it.
There will be some people who will find the very fact that you dare be firm scandalous, but that’s their problem and not yours.
9) Don’t chase attention
We sometimes equate attention to respect. But that’s not necessarily true. Sure, some respectable people are famous, but it’s because of what they actually DO.
And if you try too hard to earn other people’s attention and approval to gain respect, you’ll never get it. They will feel it and they’ll likely find you annoying or suspicious because of it.
Instead, you should turn inward and focus on living the kind of life that makes you fulfilled—the kind that adds VALUE to the people around you. Then attention and respect might follow.
10) Go for what you want
If you truly respect yourself, you aren’t going to settle for less, especially if you’re already sure of what you want in life.
When it comes to important stuff like “when are you getting married?” or “you’re too old to not have a “real” job!”, you should be willing to fight for the kind of life you want…even if it means disappointing some people and turning down some “grand” opportunities.
And when it comes to life purpose, you shouldn’t care if people say that your dreams are impossible…you must go for it!
Going for what you want is probably the highest form of self-respect—it’s honoring your unique self and your unique potential. It’s saying “this is what I’m put here on earth for and I will live my life doing it.”
And people can sense this…that you’re willing to fight the good fight even if you’re trembling. This kind of courage is something truly admirable and demands respect.
Our personalities and upbringing can sometimes make it especially hard for us to practice self-respect. Sometimes doing so means having to act in a way that can make us look selfish or entitled.
But we only have one life…so why spend it feeling like we’re inferior beings who don’t deserve to take up space in this world?
You must strive to be your own best advocate. Each person is worthy of respect, and everyone should know that—especially you.