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How to get and give respect

You’ve got a basic grasp of what I mean by being respectful and you also know the basic ways to behave which will secure you a fair level of respect.

Remember to be kind to everyone;

Encourage others whenever possible;

Stand firm in your principles and what you believe;

Play by the rules but keep your wits about you;

Extend a helping hand to those in need;

Cause no harm to others;

Think twice before you speak, three times before you act.


I wish the acronym was good enough, but it’s not. I want you to ace this big time.

So here’s a list of things you can start doing, right now, today, which will give you an unfair advantage over those who still think respect doesn’t matter.

Make any of these things a habit and you’ll not only earn the respect of others—you’ll grow to respect yourself as well.


Learn good manners. Don’t take this for granted! For the longest time I’ve watched society shift, people stumbling over themselves, trying to invent ways to stand out and be original. What they wear, the style of their hair, the piercings and tattoos…all int he name of individuality.

Now they all look the same. Yeah, that’s a shocker.

You want to stand out? Want to be original and unique? Learn manners. No I’m not going to list them, lazy butt, look ‘em up yourself!

Learn to listen. This is a skill I still struggle with, but I can tell you that when I do listen, I’m considered exceptional and my wife, daughters and friends appreciate it. My boys don’t care, we just smack one another on the shoulder—we’re done. Listening shows respect because it shows you find value in others. They matter enough for you to spend the time and effort to listen and even I have to yield that point—when my wife listens to me, I cannot help but respect her and feel grateful.

Learn how and when to apologize. Accepting responsibility is important, taking accountability even more so…but apologizing, well, that takes a certain level of finesse. It’s not just about admitting what you’ve done and saying sorry—it’s also about restitution (making amends).

Keep it simple. Strange as it may sound, people appreciate when you don’t share everything on your mind. It’s a mercy, really. Keeping it simple and to the point is one of the ways you can sho respect for another’s time as well as mental and emotional state.

Authentic is the only way to be. There’s a great deal to be said about living life on your terms. Being unapologetically you is a powerful way to earn the respect of friends, family and colleagues.

Go the extra mile, including grace. No matter what you do, strive to do it well and be the best you can be. That includes defending your principles, standing your ground on important issues and when you find yourself face to face with those who may oppose your perspective, show class and grace by being collegial and kind.

Play to your strengths. If life opens an opportunity for you to shine, use your strengths to win the respect of others. This is especially effective when you are working with others as part of a team effort. Give the project all you’ve got and if possible, use those strengths to uplift and encourage others along the way.

No is a complete sentence. There are few things I personally respect more than a person who can speak their mind and not have to offer an excuse. Not that they are rude or unkind, but they have the strength of character to say ‘no’ when they cannot (or will not) commit.

Listen to perspectives which are not your own. Much of the worlds problems stem from communication issues. We bring feelings and validity into conversations when we shouldn’t. Just because someone has a different view than your own doesn’t invalidate you or make you wrong, nor does it make them right. Part of being respectful and gaining respect comes from understanding and communicating with others.

Take the time to ask why someone thinks the way they do, or ask them how they came to the very conclusion they hold to. Doing so will gain you a measure of respect, a better understanding of the person, their thinking process and heaven forbid…you just may turn out to agree with them as well.

Keep yourself on lockdown. This means know who you are and what your triggers are. What provokes you? What subjects are you touchy about? Do you have certain places or people you should avoid to keep your cool? Avoid volatile people and situations whenever possible.

It’s okay not to know. One of the most challenging aspects of being a true Adult is to know and admit when you don’t know or understand something. Our first inclination, usually because of pride and/or fear of looking stupid, try to play the intelligence card, when in reality, admitting ignorance will gain respect. It’s okay not to know something. It’s a completely different matter to pretend you know something when you don’t have a clue.

Just be honest with yourself and others and ask questions! Once you know the answer to something, you own it. Like I teach my kids—it doesn’t matter if it takes a day, week, month or year to learn something. When you’ve got it, you’ve got it…and then it’s yours forever.

Devote time to increase. Don’t forget to spend time on yourself and self-improvement. Devote time to meditation, prayer, exercise, relationships and I’d throw in one more: reading. The more time you read, the more you’ll know. The more you know, the more you can do. the more you can do, the more you can help, uplift, inspire and change the world around you for the better.

[insert Rocky theme song here…]

Pay it forward. It’s amazing what you learn and how much you grow from helping others. teachers tend to get the most from the lessons they have to prepare and mentors grow personally when they help another find themselves and blossom. Take what you learn and reach out to someone who needs help. Not only will you gain their respect, you’ll have the opportunity to show another the path you’ve walked and help change a life for the better.

Do good where good can be done. This is probably my favorite because performing small acts of kindness not only feeds the soul…it keeps us grounded in reality, and the now.

Be the kind of hero you had or wish you had growing up. Be the friend, sibling or spouse people brag about. Be the exception. Be the miracle of the day by doing something small, kind and unexpected.

Buy a cup of coffee for someone. Pay for the drive-in meal of the car in back of you. leave a bigger tip for the waitress who’s having a bad day. Say thank you to the offer you meet on the street.

Smile at people.

Over a decade I sat with a gun in my mouth…and someone reached out to me. Told me that I mattered.

That comment penetrated my heart.

…and it saved my life.

Not only will you turn heads by being unexpectedly kind, you just might change a life.

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