Today, I want to discuss respect and how to earn it.

Table of Contents

Why Should You Want Respect?

earned respect | respect your elders bumper sticker

You are not worthy of respect because of your age, race, nationality, or other arbitrary factors. You are respectable because of your character, actions, and virtues.

“If one doesn’t respect oneself one can have neither love nor respect for others.” – Ayn Rand

Respect is “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.”

So, why do we need admiration from others? Primarily, we live in a society. We have to trade, interact, and deal with others. If others respect you, they are more likely to help your growth.

Secondly, respect earned externally will develop internally. If people admire you, then you are more likely to appreciate yourself and vice versa. It’s a feedback loop, and maintaining admiration externally, even as you doubt yourself internally, will inspire you when you are feeling low.

The Four Ways To Earn Respect

earn respect | woman smiling

Competence, emotional control, consistency, and self-respect will help you earn the admiration you want or need.

The four ways outlined below are broad and can apply to all relationships from work to dating to parent/child. You’ll have to labor, but your efforts will pay dividends.

1. Be Competent and Useful

help others | hand holding hand

The more you can help others, the more gratitude they will express.

“Make improvements, not excuses. Seek respect, not attention.” – Roy T. Bennett

Competence and usefulness signal you have the self-discipline to learn a skill, the social awareness to develop the skills needed by others, and the time management to get things done. These are all positive traits, no matter who you are.

Therefore, study what relationships lack appreciation. For example, if you want to improve your marriage, spend more time with the kids and clean up around the house. If you want more approval from your co-workers, then resolve their pain points.

Focus on delivering solutions to your community, and you will earn respect.

2. Control Your Emotions And Eliminate Your Complaining

blm complaining | BLM protest

Emotional immaturity is counter-productive. Complaining accomplishes nothing. To be admired, you must control your emotions and solve problems instead of rattling on about them.

Emotional immaturity signals your lack of discipline. If you cannot control your emotions, then how can anyone depend on you when times toughen? Furthermore, if you’re always complaining, what use are you in delivering concrete, long-term solutions?

To gain admiration from others, stop complaining and letting your emotions run you wild. Start by:

  • Practicing gratitudeGratitude smothers weaknesses and complaining by reminding you of how blessed you are. Remember, comfort is an aberration. Let your myriad of amenities distract you from the inconveniences life produces.
  • Embracing voluntary suffering – The more you suffer, the tougher you get. Take cold showers, fast, and abstain from entertainment, so your mind becomes used to discomforts. If you can handle voluntary suffering, you will be stronger when tragedy inevitably strikes.
  • Removing yourself from what is bothering you Avoid emotionally-charged scenarios, ideas, and people. For example, if politics puts you in a bad mood, then stop watching the news.

3. Keep Your Word

honest reliable parent | parent with child at sunset

Being consistent, honest, and reliable will improve the way others view you.

Reliability is in short supply. Therefore, focus on keeping your word, fulfilling your promises, and overdelivering on what others need of you. The more others can rely on you, the more they will count on and respect you.

To keep your word, seek to under-promise and over-deliver. Does someone want a delivery date on a project? Add a few more days or hours to your first deadline, then work to fulfill your original deadline. Need to meet someone somewhere? Seek to arrive 15 minutes earlier. Want to keep a promise? Remain hyper-focused on fulfilling what you promised.

Further, keep detailed notes of your time. Understand what your limitations and responsibilities are. The deeper your understand what you can do, the better you become at keeping your word as you can make commitments with the full knowledge of what is and is not possible.

4. Respect Yourself

self-respect | woman celebrating

Self-respect comes from the pursuit of virtue. You cannot force yourself to love yourself. If you are someone of character, admiration will naturally follow.

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky

Lastly, if you want respect, you must respect yourself. When you follow your own rules, remain virtuous, and focus on being useful to yourself, others are less likely to disrespect you. Or, at the very least, you will refuse to allow others to disrespect you.

How do you respect yourself? Pursue virtue. Focus on building what is sustainable and not what is expedient. Be modest in both dress and behavior. Minimize your vices and refuse unwarranted and vapid attention-seeking. Remain mindful of your time.

For example, if you respect your time and money, you won’t fall for a scam artist when he makes outlandish promises. You’ll reject him and send him on his way. Such decisive confidence only comes when you admite what you have and who you are.

Your Enemies Should Respect You

respected enemies | boxing match

The greater you are, the more respect you will gain from everyone, including enemies.

“Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners.” – Laurence Sterne

You are under scrutiny. Your beliefs, ideals, and ideas do not matter. Only your actions, behaviors, and words do.

The local bully should regard your courage, fortitude, and willingness to stand up to him. The socialist should admire your persistence, magnanimity, and your pursuit of higher ideals. The consumerist should appreciate your self-restraint, consistency, and ability to enjoy life responsibly.

Life is about overcoming challenges and reaching higher ideals than your immediate comforts. If you are capable of doing this, then everyone, even your enemies, will admire you. Why? Because you’re living what you preach and reaching the ideal makes you stronger and better.

However, you don’t have to act like your enemies to earn their admiration. Focus on reliability, virtue, and competence. Once you accomplish these goals, admiration is all but guaranteed, even from those you don’t admire.

Lastly, some people will not care for you, no matter what you do. Avoid or remove them from your life. Overcome them with wit, if you can. However, never let them see you sweat and never beg them for admiration. They are a lost cause, and you have better things to do, remember?

Respect Is Earned

become an individual respect | flexing

Become an individual and earn your respect.

You cannot will yourself to respect someone who hasn’t earned it. This rule applies to how people view you. If you want respect, then you’ll have to work for it.

But the price is worth it. Being appreciated will open new doors and provide a long list of benefits. No one admires a weak-willed, incapable individual. Thus, focus on competence, emotional control, honesty, and self-respect. Soon, you’ll have more admiration and the power that comes with it.

Reading List


  1. Who is someone you admire? Why? What are the qualities of this person you find respectable?
  2. Who is someone you don’t like? What is it about their behavior, ideas, and actions you find deplorable?
  3. How would your life be if you could earn more respect from the people around you?

Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.

*Image credit to Unsplash.