5 non-obvious signs that people admire you, according to psychology

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There’s a fine line between admiration and simple politeness. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell if someone genuinely admires you or they’re just being nice.

Psychology, however, reveals some non-obvious signs that people might just be looking up to you, even if they don’t plainly show it.

Today, we dive into five such subtle indicators.

As you will see, it’s not always about grand gestures or big compliments. These are signs that often fly under the radar, so keep your eyes open!

Let’s get to ‘em.

1) Others mirror your actions, body language, or tone

Think back; have you ever noticed someone subconsciously picking up your mannerisms or using the same phrases as you?

It might be more than just a coincidence. It could be a sign that they admire you.

This concept is known as the “Chameleon Effect.” It’s a psychological phenomenon in which individuals unconsciously imitate the person they’re interacting with.

You may have heard the phrase, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” and that’s often what’s going on here, usually subconsciously.

This is well backed up by experts in their field.

Researchers of a 2013 study, for instance, acknowledged that imitation is closely related to admiration. Greater Good Berkley echoes this, telling us that more and more psychological researchers agree that we are especially prone to imitating those whom we respect.

Also, it seems that the more we admire, the more we might imitate. Other research has shown that when people are trying to establish an affiliation with someone, their mirroring increases.

However, keep in mind that it’s all about subtlety here.

Obvious and over-the-top mimicking might not be admiration – it could just be teasing or mockery. So, keep your senses sharp and observe those small details!

2) You inspire people to take action

Elon Musk, Warren Buffet, Michelle Obama. What do they have in common?

Well, they were all admired, sure.

But they also inspire people to take significant action. This has been recognized by psychological researchers as another sign of admiration.

Basically, they suggest that when people admire us, they are motivated to do better. One study even found that admiration can be  “experienced physically as an energizing sensation that motivates modeling and working harder towards one’s success.”

Are you one of these people who inspires change and improvement?

Ask yourself:

  • Have people ever told you that your actions motivated them to start something new or improve themselves?
  • Have you noticed someone changing their habits or behaviors after observing yours?
  • Do people seem energized or more driven after conversations with you?
  • Are you often mentioned as an example in discussions about success or positive habits?

These questions can help you gauge whether you are not just a participant in your community or work but a catalyst for change and improvement.

3) Others seek your opinion

How often do you voluntarily ask for the opinions of someone you don’t respect or admire?

Not often, I’d bet. Why would you?

As noted by the experts, we often want to learn from those whom we admire.

When it’s the other way around, however—when people seek our point of view on an important issue to them—we often fail to acknowledge that it can be a powerful sign of admiration.

When someone values your thoughts and perspectives, it shows they see you as a person of influence and wisdom.

They’re not just asking for the sake of conversation. They genuinely want to know what you think because they believe your views hold weight and significance.

Whether it’s about a book, a current event, or a personal decision, if they’re frequently seeking your opinion, chances are high that they admire you.

They see you as someone whose insights are worth considering.

4) You are seen as competent

A few years ago, I had the privilege of working with a leader in the finance industry who was widely admired.

But why?

Despite a demanding schedule and high-pressure decisions, he always displayed an exceptional grasp of complex financial strategies and market dynamics. His advice was sought after not only within our company but also in broader financial circles.

Admittedly, he wasn’t always the friendliest person, but his competence earned him immense respect and admiration.

The point?

Being competent can help us be admired, but being admired and being liked can be two very different things.

Science backs this up. Researchers have noted that people are often admired based on perceived competence—or the ability to effectively perform and excel in specific areas—regardless of whether they are perceived as warm or not.

But how can we know if we are seen as competent?

Well, if you can answer “yes” to the following statements, it’s likely you are:

  • Others frequently turn to you for advice in your area of expertise.
  • You are often entrusted with responsibilities that require a high level of skill or knowledge.
  • Your suggestions and opinions are taken seriously during meetings and discussions.
  • You find yourself at the center of decision-making processes.
  • Colleagues and peers often cite you as an example when discussing professional success or expertise.

These indicators suggest that others view you as a competent and capable individual, qualities that can foster deep-seated admiration.

5) …but you are not overly aggressive or dominant

This is perhaps the most interesting one.

We often assume people of competence to be a bit aggressive and threatening. We think of that CEO or director who takes over conversations and doesn’t listen to his or her employees’ suggestions.

And while some people admire this sort of “strength”, research would suggest that this is not usually the case.

Basically, people who manage to be effective without being overly aggressive or threatening tend to be more genuinely admired. They maintain their influence and status but do so in a way that is inclusive and considerate.

The lesson?

Someone who is competent but listens and considers others’ input, who guides rather than dictates, is more likely to be admired. Are you one of those people?

The bottom line

Recognizing admiration isn’t always straightforward, but tuning in to these subtle cues can reveal how much others truly value and respect you.

Keep an eye out for these signs—they’re telling of the significant impact you have on those around you.

As always, I hope you found this post helpful.

Until next time.

Mal James

Mal James

Originally from Ireland, Mal is a content writer, entrepreneur, and teacher with a passion for self-development, productivity, relationships, and business.

As an avid reader, Mal delves into a diverse range of genres, expanding his knowledge and honing his writing skills to empower readers to embark on their own transformative journeys.

In his downtime, Mal can be found on the golf course or exploring the beautiful landscapes and diverse culture of Vietnam, where he is now based.

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