How to Get and Keep Respect – 4 Practices

By June 14, 2012Millennial

I believe one thing people want in life is respect. We want to feel valued, listened to, and called upon to do ordinary and extraordinary things. It is about self-worth, and it is about using our talents.

Respect is such a simple thing in concept. In practice, since other people are involved, respect gets more complicated. Self-interests are mixed in, so emotions and actions impact us in unexpected or adverse ways.

We cannot get distracted from who we really are and who we really want to be. After all, respect begins with self-respect, and this is the starting point in how to get and keep respect.

Practice 1: Engage self-respect.

We need to take care of ourselves first, meaning we need to:4 Practices to Gain and Keep Respect

  • Expand our mind through learning and reading
  • Improve our bodies through exercise and healthy eating
  • Refresh our spirit through practices to center our soul and keep us on a purpose-filled path

Self-respect puts substance on our presence. It is not a one-time activity. It is a continuous flow of self-enhancement, self-awareness, and self-empowerment.

The point is self-respect needs to be at the core of how we gain respect in our community, workplace, family, and other places of interaction. Self-respect, however, is not arrogance. Arrogance rarely, if ever, inspires respect.

Practice 2: Exhibit strong humility.

Humility denotes self-confidence coupled with an understanding of place. By place, I mean we are not above others or certain standards. We hold ourselves accountable to a higher calling.

Humility is strength in who we are and what we are called to do while always being aware of how we fit into the world and support others around us. Yes, a long way to simply say “If you want respect, don’t put yourself above others in an inappropriate or superior way.”

Even better, as Kate Nasser recently pointed out in a blog post:

“Consider replacing the weak image of humility with a picture of its authentic strengths. Tapping others’ talents shows your confidence. Hearing others’ opinions expands your view. Celebrating the whole instead of yourself extends your reach.”

Practice 3: Be active in our real life community.

To gain and retain respect, we need to act. Respect is about doing good works and inspiring others. It is not about recognition; it is about helping out and lifting up others. Our actions will really determine what level of respect we have.

Our actions may include:

  • Mentoring others in the workplace or mentor kids who don’t have a father (see The Mentoring Project)
  • Volunteering at school
  • Getting involved in a community project
  • Starting a leadership group to raise insights
  • Smiling and engaging people in conversations
  • Doing something positive often!

Being active translates into doing more than the minimum at home, work, and community. Respect gains more traction and staying power when our work is demonstrated more fully in more places.

Practice 4: Make good, reputable choices in what we say and do.

Our choices reflect an image, and the image is truly us. It may be like a shadow as described by Lolly Daskal, which “lead us back to our purpose…” Our choices need to align with our purpose in living and leading.

The choices we make include the ones illustrating how we approach life and the ones made in the heat of a moment. In both, people will see our character in our life-long and split-second choices. Integrity in our choices will generate deeper respect.

A way to think of these four practices for getting and keeping respect can center on four core questions:

  • Who are we? Leads to self-respect.
  • How do we do things? Embraces humility.
  • What do we do? Incorporates purpose-filled actions.
  • Why do we do things? Inspires solid, positive big and small choices.

Each practice is intertwined. Good choices lead to stronger self-respect. Humility leads to strength in service and a more engaged community. The web of respect begins to extend, capturing the attention of others to weave their own threads of respect.

What practices do you embrace to get and keep respect?

Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz is one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business and highlighted as one of the Leaders to Watch in 2015 by the American Management Association. He also is the author of Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders. Jon serves as vice president of marketing at Corepoint Health. Outside of his professional life, Jon brings together a community to inspire Millennial leaders and close the gap between two generations of leaders.
Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz

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  • […] Mertz, from Thin Difference, picked How to Get and Keep Respect – 4 Practices. “While we work to be productive in what we do, we also want more. We want to feel valued, […]

  • […] and thrive in the organizations of the future.” Jon Mertz, from Thin Difference, picked How to Get and Keep Respect – 4 Practices.  […]

  • rafraf says:

    To earned Respect is to simply understand yourself and others needs. Respect is elusive to people doing politics and religion,

  • Heck says:

    Too vague

  • maina walkley says:

    Jon, thank you for putting together in a simple and concise manner what respect is all about.

  • Arthur says:

    Integrity, self-respect and credibility – on top of my list for being most important in a person’s qualities and character.

  • Berel Dov Lerner says:

    “Who is respected? One who respects others” Rabbi Simon Ben Zoma, 2nd century.

  • Terrific message Jon. One of my favorite quotes on self-respect is by Clint Eastwood – “Respect your efforts, respect yourself.  Self-respect leads to self-discipline.  When you have both firmly under your belt, that’s real power.” Each of your points are right on, but I have to agree that for me #3 has always been a part of who I am. I’m a huge believer in grassroots community projects and as a result have chaired 3 county food drives and served on the boards of a varity of nonprofits. Yes, it’s a great way to make contacts, but more importantly it’s a great way to connect and make a difference in the world.

    • Jon M says:

      Great quote, Marquita! Self-discipline is an essential element to self-respect… 

      It is great that you are very involved in your community. What a great way to set an example as well as make the connections that really mean something. This is an area I am trying to re-engage and do more of as well. I can follow your example, for sure!

      Thanks again. Jon

  • Melanie says:

    Thanks for writing this post, Jon. I think the thing that most of us forget that you highlight is that respect is an active process. First you need to engage yourself then you can engage and earn respect from others. Well done! 

    • Jon M says:

      Spot on point! It is an active process… we need to continue to do the right practices to gain and retain respect. Thanks so much for adding to the conversation, Melanie!

  • Jon, great post and progression of thought.  One thing I’ve learned about self-respect too is that we can “fake it” but that takes a lot of work.  I call self-respect, knowing what you’re good at.  (Our world teaches it a bit differently.) If deep down inside, we know that we aren’t that good or haven’t prepared, then we have to work much harder to maintain the force-field and act like we are better than we know ourselves to be.  Respect became easier for me when I started realizing that I didn’t need to be the best at everything.  If I know what I’m good at, it becomes much easier to acknowledge the greatness in others.

    Thanks for the great post. Mike…

    • Jon M says:

      Very valuable insight, Mike! I agree. We need to know what we are good at and not “fake” it by trying to be something (or someone) we are not. The last part is perfect – “…acknowledge the greatness in others.” I think this not only strengthens our self-respect but fosters our respect in communities. Working together, each bringing their strengths, lifts initiatives and purposes to a higher level of achievement! Thank you for your comments and insights. Jon

  • shawmu says:

    Hi Jon,
    I love how you are right there to encourage and inspire us to show up in this world poised to make a difference. All the practices your mention are key. Right now the one that really resonates with me is #3: Be active in your real community. Nothing like rolling up our sleeves and serving others to learn about respect. Nice message.

    • Jon M says:

      Thanks, Shawn, for your comment. Rolling up our sleeves is a great one… one I am trying to do more of, too. Always appreciate your challenges and insights to us as leaders. Thank you! Jon

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