When your self-esteem is low, others can sense it. And sometimes you may not get a lot of respect as a result.
How do you get respect?
According to professor of counseling Dr. Samuel Gladding, we first have to respect ourselves and be comfortable with who we are in order to win respect from others. You have to start by working on your self-esteem. Once you pull your self-esteem out of the pits, you'll notice other people treating you with more respect.
"Respect is something you earn - it's not something that just happens," said Dr. Gladding. Earning respect takes time and effort, he said. It's something you have to work for, but it's definitely worth striving for.
When I started working at SwRI almost 36 years ago, I had been in the publishing field 7 years, and I considered myself a professional. I knew much more about publishing than most of my new coworkers. When there was a question about fonts, editing, or anything publishing, no one came to me. They went to those of my coworkers who had been here longer.
Here are some strategies to gain the respect of others with some tips from Dr. Gladding:
1. Make direct eye contact with people. People like to be acknowledged in a conversation and one way we can do that is by making eye contact with them. You show that you're involved in the conversation psychologically and physically and it shows that you're confident of yourself. If you're confident of yourself, others will sense that and return respect. Self-confident people will always earn respect.
2. Be appropriate in how you treat other people. Whether is's your boss, your assistant or your buddy, you win respect by treating other people as though they have dignity and worth. From the bottom up or top down, letting people know they count is important.
3. Adopt a personal policy of honesty. Those people we admire most are truthful people, such as Abraham Lincoln, who we call "Honest Abe." Even if we don't like what is said, people like to be told the truth as long as it's done without bludgeoning. Others respect an honest and truthful person. But be sure you're tactful when being honest, of course. Honesty will always earn respect.
4. Be yourself with others. That way, people won't think you're putting on airs and they'll respect you for it. Most people can spot a phony pretty quickly, and phonies get no respect at all.
5. Don't be a know-it-all. If you're starting a new job and don't know something, for example, ask for help from someone who does know. Don't pretend you know something if you don't. And don't pretend you know everything because no one does. It makes you more approachable if you're not a know-it-all. People respect someone they can talk to, rather than someone who talks to them all the time.
6. Stay on top of current events. To be conversational, you need knowledge of what's happening in the world. If you have an opinion on a subject, for example, you're likely to be asked why you hold that opinion. If your answer is, "I don't know," you come across as completely uninformed. People respect someone who is up-to-date on things.
7. Be open to the opinions of others. People aren't enthralled with others who are dogmatic, but they do respect and enjoy the company of those who have some knowledge yet are open to learning more. People who think they are right all the time and everyone else is wrong will never earn any respect. It shows you're narrow-minded and intolerant. Open-mindedness is a quality that earns respect.
8. Be prompt when others are expecting you at a certain time. We respect people who do what they say they're going to do. We admire those who start and end things on time and those who make a point of being somewhere when they say they're going to be. It shows that you have respect for other people's time and you aren't going to keep them sitting around wasting their time, drumming their fingers and waiting for you.
9. Maintain a neat and appropriate appearance. This shows you really do care about yourself. You don't have to wear expensive clothing to win respect, but you do need to have a clean, neat appearance that shows people you respect yourself, your body and your clothes. Appropriate means that you wouldn't want to go to a business meeting in blue jeans, unless your business calls for that. Be aware of what kind of dress different situations call for and respond sensitively and sensibly. Also, be aware of how you carry yourself and do so with pride. When you stand and walk with good posture, you create a positive image that people respond to.
10. Communicate clearly with others. Be specific about what you want or need. That way people know more about you and can, therefore, respond better to you. If you're not clear when you communicate with others, they're left to guess what you're talking about. People aren't mind-readers and expecting them to be doesn't build respect.
11. Do something nice for someone. Do charity work or contribute to a good cause. Help someone who needs help, even if it's something small, like giving directions to a lost out-of-towner or picking up a package someone dropped at the grocery store. This shows you're not self-centered, and it betters your community in the bargain. People aren't enthralled with others who are self-centered.
12. Use humor in your daily life. People respect others who can both laugh at themselves and laugh at a situation. Not everything is dead-serious, so keep a perspective on what really is important and be able to laugh with people and be able to laugh with people and certainly not at them.
As you work on raising your own self-esteem, watch how other people treat you. You'll see a big difference as they sense that you are feeling tip-top about yourself!
The above was excerpted from Why Am I Dancing Alone? by Sue Kovach, published in 2000 by American Media Mini Mags, Inc. Boca Raton, FL