Respect is something that each and every one of us expects. We expect it from our friends. We expect it of our co-workers. We expect it of our children and our parents; our coaches and our players. We even expect respect (usually at the very least) from the people we don’t particularly care for. But do we command respect?
I came across a quote from somebody yesterday that read, “I know how to bow down to authority, if it’s authority I respect.” I think we all echo this sentiment, at some point or on some level. Let’s be real. We’ve all come across a person (any of the above mentioned people, for example), toward whom common sense tells us we need to show respect. But in real time, whether it’s due to their demeanor, their actions, their words, their appearance, it’s been difficult to afford them the respect that they desire or that maybe their title says they deserve. And while I personally feel believe that on some level, everybody deserves respect, I also know that practicing that habit can be one of the most difficult things to do… and I’m sure that I have failed miserably at times.
When I read this quote, I immediately put myself in the shoes of the person that desires/expects respect. I was taught long ago that “you do not demand respect. You command respect.” What are the ways that you command respect? What are the ways that your every day life unquestionably draws a certain level of respect from those around you? Here are 5 things that I came up with, in no particular order. I’m sure there are others.
1) Tone of voice: When you speak to people, is your tone confrontational? Is it demeaning or patronizing? Or does it place the recipient on a level playing field with you?
2) Physical Appearance: Does the way you present yourself, match the way that you expect others to perceive/treat you?
3) Standards vs Action: Yesterday I mentioned setting your own personal standards. Do your actions reinforce your own standards? How can people respect what you say, when what you do conflicts with what you expect of yourself? How can you command respect from people if what you expect of them is contrary to what you expect of yourself?
4) Selflessness: How do you treat people who can do nothing for you?
5) Your word: Do you keep your word? Do you follow through on the things that you say you are going to do?
If you are anything like me, you struggle with one or more of these from time to time. It happens. That’s part of growing. But no matter what you believe you deserve, respect is not simply given. It’s earned. And it must be earned on a regular basis.