Respect Is Earned

Who should we give our respect to and how do we earn it?

Often I question what is the one thing that determines how all of our human interactions develop. What really determines how people treat one another, how friendships begin and end, etc. That one thing is respect.

All our relationships must begin with a certain level of respect, whether it be a friendship, a love interest, or basic conversation with an acquaintance. For reference, when you’re in a leadership position, perhaps a group leader, president of a club, captain of a sports team, boss at work, what is the one thing required from you and your peers to allow all interactions to flow smoothly? Correct answer–Respect. In order to develop meaningful relationships you must show and receive respect.

A misconception about the word is that it should be blindly given; that we should blindly respect our elders, the government, etc. because of their position. Granted, no one deserves unwarranted disrespect; however, respect should be earned and given by our peers in order for the word to maintain its power and meaning. If people around us are behaving in a way that does not deserve respect, who is to say that they should receive it. This does not mean that you should aggressively disrespect and mistreat the people who you believe are unworthy of your respect, but there is a sample manner in which you can simply give your respect to those who are deserving.

Respect is not something that is given just because of a position, so as someone in the slightest bit of power you cannot expect respect without earning it, and as someone who must gives respect, you should give it to the people who truly deserve it. Manipulation is prone to any system, so respect must be passed around with purpose. Hence the dictionary definition of the word, “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.”

Now I realize that some people believe that by the morality of your position, whether you are a parent, a boss, a coach, or extremely talented in your craft, that you are automatically deserving of respect. Those people probably stopped reading a while ago. But, if you are someone who wants to be respected because you earned it, and give your respect to people who deserve it, you should remember a few things:

How To Earn Respect

Cruelty Is Weakness

  • Sometimes people are simply cruel to people who they believe are less than, who are beneath them. It seems easy to be mean to someone who cannot fight back. Exerting you power because you are simply in a higher position, does not earn you respect. You must be kind and generous to your peers, especially because the cruelty and mistreatment you are passing out in your power position is most likely unwarranted.

The Way You Treat Someone Is Forever

  • Whether you are the best in the room, receiving endless awards and medals, if people are praising you because of your talent, all of those things may pass. However, the way you treat someone lasts forever, so just simply be kind. If you want to maintain respect, give respect whether you are at the top, the bottom, or in the middle. 

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

  • Whether you say you care for someone, or that you are a kind person, it does not matter if you do not show it. You can say it however many times you want, however you want to say it, but it’s what you do that counts. 

Someone Is Watching

  • Always remember, people are watching. So, maintain an admirable character behind and in front of the curtains. If you never admit your mistakes, or you attempt to defend yourself and others when you know they (or yourself) are wrong, it will only be harder for you to gain respect. Be kind at all times like your every action is open for the entire word to see. 

How To Give Respect

Be Helpful

  • If you find yourself in a position where you can very simply help out a peer, there’s probably no sensible reason why you shouldn’t. You don’t have to do all of someone else’s work, or take on all their problems as your own, but if you can provide just the slightest bit of aid to someone else’s situation, why should you not. Something as simple as advice can go such a long way.

Be Encouraging

  • Everyone has had a bad day one time or another. So, I’m sure you’re aware of what a little encouragement can do to move your day forward. It might not seem like much at the time, but a simple smile and word of encouragement can truly bring some joy to someone’s day.

Be A Good Listener

  • Listening and truly engaging seems like an easy task, but it can be one of the hardest skills to master. When providing someone with your attention and listening ears you can show them some true and honest respect. Tune into what that person is saying. Look them in the eye, put down your phone, and provide feedback when it is needed. Everyone appreciates someone willing to really listen to them. 

Express Gratitude

  • Say “Thank you.” This is something a lot of us are taught at a really young age. As the years go by, do not forget to say thank you. Make sure your thanks is sincere, a thank you without sincerity is worthless. Expressing gratitude can be with a simple two words, or it can be with gifts, or help. No matter what way you decide is the most meaningful, an action of gratitude can go a long way in showing someone respect.


Remember these few tips, and the word “respect” will maintain its worth and power.


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