You know what they say, ‘respect is earned, not given’.
Rightly or wrongly, we usually end up treating people with the respect we think they deserve.
Unfortunately, sometimes we give off signals that diminish other people’s regard for us.
You may not even realize you’re doing it. Some are very subtle!
So if you worry that people don’t respect you, say goodbye to these behaviors…
1) “Sorry to bother you” statements
I hold my hands up and admit, I’m terrible for this one!
Sometimes we can be overly groveling in the way we approach others.
We intend it to be polite and humble. But we can go overboard and subtly undermine ourselves in the process.
We’re talking about phrases like:
- “Does that make sense?!”
- “If you know what I mean?!”
- “Sorry to bother you”
Yes, it’s always important to be courteous and respectful towards us.
But we also need to be mindful of the impression we are giving with the language we chose.
How we present ourselves to others impacts how they end up viewing us.
Sometimes we lower our own status in the eyes of others when we appear too meek or lacking in self-assurance.
2) Sucking up
Nobody likes a kiss ass. Well, not for long anyway.
Whilst intense flattery can seem like an effective tool to win favor, it loses us respect in the process.
Because it lacks sincerity.
We cannot respect inauthenticity. And so a compliment loses its impact as soon as we don’t believe it’s genuine.
And we’re usually pretty good at sniffing it out.
When someone tries too hard to get us to like them, they lose all credibility.
That’s why the next behavior on our list is also doomed to fail.
3) Being intentionally agreeable
We all want to be liked. It’s only natural.
In fact, social rejection is felt in the brain in the same way we feel physical pain.
The problem is that certain tactics to get people to like us actually decrease our social status.
For example, whilst we all like nice people, there are limits.
Having no opinions or thoughts of your own loses you respect, as you may just seem docile or even quite bland.
Nice isn’t the same as timid. Nice people still have their own beliefs and values.
When you don’t know your own mind, then you can come across as a bit wishy-washy.
Of course, you can go too far the other way, as we’ll see next
4) Being rude
Rude people lose our respect for the simple fact that they aren’t displaying it themselves.
We’re hardly going to treat someone with courtesy when they are lacking in any basic manners.
But here’s the thing about rude people:
They don’t necessarily have to be rude to us for us to lose respect for them.
It can be just as much of a turn-off when we see them giving other people a dressing down.
It smacks of arrogance and superiority.
It suggests they either:
- Lack the self-awareness to observe their own behavior
- Or, simply don’t care enough about the feelings of others
So no wonder we don’t exactly admire them!
5) Overly apologizing
Buy now, you may have seen a pattern start to emerge.
It seems that we lose respect for people who are overly demanding or overly demure.
That’s why overly apologizing can unwittingly lose us approval.
Let’s be clear, owning up to your errors and mistakes is admirable. Holding your hands up in many circumstances earns you respect.
But many of us have a habit of apologizing when there is no need.
And much like the “sorry to bother you” type statements from earlier — it’s self-sabotage.
As highlighted by Entrepreneur:
“Starting every sentence with “I’m sorry” tells others your estimate of your self-worth. Don’t apologize for your existence. Beginning every sentence with “I’m sorry but…” tells people you expect disapproval before you have even communicated your need, opinion or idea.”
6) Avoiding rocking the boat at all costs
…Aka having weak boundaries.
If you let people get away with whatever they like, you put yourself below them.
You tell them that your needs, wants, and feelings are less important than theirs.
Avoiding conflict is great. But sometimes it is impossible.
We all need to stick up for ourselves in order to maintain our self-esteem and sense of self-worth.
If we are always letting people walk all over us it signals to them that they can.
In an ideal world, people wouldn’t take advantage.
But sadly, drawing a line in the sand is important when we want to command the respect we are due.
7) People pleasing
People pleasing is one of those afflictions that many of us suffer from.
We convince ourselves that we are being kind. But we are confusing kindness for weakness.
Feeling unable to say “no” isn’t the same thing as being genuinely happy to say “yes”.
Kindness should be equally applied to yourself as much as others.
That doesn’t create selfish behavior. It simply means you approach yourself with as much consideration as you do others.
Many people-pleasing behaviors are a sign of low confidence. And the fact is that we respect self-confidence in people.
8) Putting yourself down
Self-deprecating behavior can sometimes elicit some sympathy. But at the same time, it strips away your respect.
If you are very critical of yourself — you are diminishing yourself in the eyes of others.
It’s like being a salesman who doesn’t like what they have to sell.
So many of us do this without even noticing.
That’s why becoming more mindful of your inner critic and your internal dialogue can be a game changer!
9) Saying one thing, but doing another
It’s almost impossible to trust someone who doesn’t stand by their word.
They present themselves as unreliable. Disappointing others is obviously never going to win favor!
So as soon as your words and behavior fail to match up you start to erode your own credibility.
After all, we all know that actions speak louder than words.
You may get away with it once or twice. But consistently do it and you’ll start to lose people’s estimation.
10) Playing the fool
Sometimes playing the class clown has a similar effect as putting yourself down.
People stop taking you seriously.
That’s not to say having a sense of humor is a bad thing — quite the opposite. Plenty of research has highlighted just how much we value it in others.
Being funny is a character strength that makes you more attractive and popular.
As explained in Quartz:
“Humor can be used to make others feel good, to gain intimacy, or to help buffer stress. Along with gratitude, hope, and spirituality, a sense of humor belongs to the set of strengths positive psychologists call transcendence; together they help us forge connections to the world and provide meaning to life.”
The subtle but important difference here is if you are always making yourself the butt of the joke or engaging in extreme attention-seeking.
It becomes another self-deprecating or insecure behavior masquerading under the guise of humor.
11) Giving in to peer pressure
Going along with the crowd, even when you would rather not doesn’t win you popularity in the long run.
I know at the time it can seem like you are making others happy.
But it’s another one of those instances that over time hints to people that you have no backbone.
Sadly, so-called “Yes people” tend to come across as a bit of a pushover.
We respect people who stand their ground and stay true to themselves.
Nobody respects the sheep who is blindly following along.
12) Showing off
Here’s the funny thing about trying too hard to impress:
It usually backfires on you.
Because it smacks of desperation.
It comes across that you need attention or approval, and so you actually lose respect in the process.
When you have to be in the spotlight it becomes demanding and draining to those around you.
13) Telling lies
Actually, this one needs to come with a caveat.
Because the real truth is that all of us tell lies…and we do it quite a lot. In fact, studies say we may do it in up to one-fifth of all our interactions.
But perhaps the saving grace is that most (90%) are so-called “white lies”.
Sparing someone’s feelings by saying you enjoyed the meal they cooked for you isn’t quite the same as cheating on your partner.
Habitual lying — whether it’s to get out of something, big yourself up, or avoid getting caught out for bad behavior — erodes your trustworthiness.
If you get a reputation for being full of sh*t, people understandably lose respect for you.
14) Making a scene
Yesterday when I was taking a walk around my neighbourhood I noticed a few onlookers watching a couple having a spat.
They were stood in the middle of the street engaged in a blazing row. And human nature being what it is, it caught people’s attention.
Now you may say that emotions do occasionally run high and it can’t be helped. It’s true. Feelings can be powerful.
But keeping a handle on ourselves is essential when we want people to respect us.
- Outbursts of anger
…They all instantly compromise your integrity.
Inappropriate behavior always makes your respect level take an instant nosedive.