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5 Ways to Show Respect to Others (and Why You Should!)


Think back to kindergarten when you first learned that you couldn’t always be in your classmate’s personal bubble and that you had to share. From a very young age, we’re taught the basics of how to respect others. Yet as we age, we seem to forget these fundamental lessons.

Respecting others is a key ingredient to forming strong relationships and helping you succeed in all areas of life. Without respecting others, you open the door to being disrespected yourself and you may lose your personal sense of integrity.

This article is here to help you re-learn the fundamentals of respecting others no matter the circumstance to help you thrive in all your interactions.

What does it mean to show respect to others?

It seems that defining respect should be straightforward. And while I’m sure you can look up a dictionary definition, the research indicates that respect has a highly individualized meaning for each of us.

Respect varies based on your culture, your upbringing, and what you value as an individual.

This in part gives me insight as to why some people don’t understand how they disrespected you in a given situation. Perhaps their definition of respect is quite different from yours.

While we may argue the exact ins and outs of what respect means, studies have found that everyone is deserving of respect simply because they are human.

This gives me hope that society is inherently full of people who mostly want to do right by others, even if their definition of “doing right” is not the same as mine.

Why does respect even matter?

But why should we even care about respect to begin with? Well, in part the golden rule answers that one for you.

Here’s a quick refresher in case you have forgotten the timeless golden rule.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

I like the golden rule and agree that it has value. But I also like seeing the hard data about why we should be behaving in a certain manner.

When it comes to research on showing respect to others, a study in 2002 found satisfaction in relationships directly correlated with respect.

In fact, the amount of respect demonstrated was more important than loving or liking a partner when it came to relational satisfaction.   

Beyond your personal relationships, respect plays a large role in the workplace as well.

Research found that employees were more likely to stay at their current employer and felt a greater sense of belonging in the company when they felt respected.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that you’re probably more likely to enjoy being around people who show you respect.

Knowing that, it only makes sense that it’s important to learn how to show others respect so both parties can enjoy the relationship.

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5 ways to show respect to others

If you’re ready to show others a little respect, then let’s jump into these action-packed tips to help you do just that!

1. Listen well

Do you remember the last time someone interrupted you mid-sentence? At that moment, did you feel respected?

Odds are you didn’t feel respected. One of the most basic forms of respect is active listening.

This means being attentive to what the other person is saying and not barging in with your thoughts while they are talking.

As someone who loves to talk way more than they should, this is something I have to actively work on in my workplace. It’s easy when a patient is telling me about their symptoms to want to jump in with my clinical thoughts.

But if I’m constantly interjecting my opinions, it’s sending a signal that I don’t respect what they are trying to communicate.

You would not believe how many patients tell me they’ve never been able to get through their whole history about an injury or health condition because the practitioner stops them midstory.

Start showing others respect by learning to say less and listen more.

2. Show your appreciation

Another simple and free way to show others respect is to directly communicate your appreciation for them.

When someone takes the time to do something kind or help you out, communicate your appreciation. It literally only takes saying thank you.

I make a point of this when I go out for coffee. Those baristas are busy as all get out, especially with it being pumpkin season. Yes, sadly I am that girl who likes pumpkin-flavored coffee.

Instead of just grabbing my coffee and rushing away, I make it a point to look the barista in the eye and say thank you.

Maybe that sounds silly to you, but this little gesture has helped to foster a relationship between me and the local baristas that makes the interaction more enjoyable for both of us.

Showing others appreciation for a job well done is a simple form of respect that transforms the interaction.

3. Be on time

In my humble opinion, there is nothing more disrespectful than showing up insanely late to an appointment or dinner. Now I understand that life happens and sometimes you can’t get there right on time.

But if you are consistently 30 minutes to 1 hour late to gatherings or your workplace, you are not showing others respect.

By being late, you are indirectly communicating that you do not value the other person’s time.

I have a friend who I love dearly, but she will show up 1 to 2 hours late to a dinner date. My group of friends finally confronted her about how rude we thought this was because it essentially shifted our plans back by a few hours each time.

Don’t be a rude friend or rude co-worker. Be there when you say you’re going to be there.

And if you can’t be on time,  be sure to show respect by communicating promptly with the other party.

4. Say sorry

Sometimes showing other people respect means knowing when to say you are sorry. When you apologize, you are respecting the other person’s emotions and rights.

Saying sorry isn’t always fun and can at times be one of the most challenging ways to show another person respect. This is also why I think it may be one of the most important things you can do though.

Recently, I said something that offended one of my husband’s relatives. Now I didn’t think what I said was wrong personally.

However, it was communicated to me that what I said visibly hurt the feelings of the other person. Knowing that my words hurt someone else, I immediately wanted to make reparations regardless of whether I thought what I said was a big deal.

I apologized and the other person was very kind and accepting of my apology. By admitting that I was sorry for offending the person, I communicated that I respected and valued their emotional well-being.

It’s so simple, yet sometimes it’s so darn hard. But say sorry when appropriate. You won’t regret it.

5. Consider others’ thoughts and feelings

This tip goes right along with the last tip. Part of respecting others is considering their feelings.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own wants and desires. This generally leads to us not always being mindful of the needs of others.

This tip is particularly handy for group settings and group work. For example, I started working on a group project the other day regarding creating a fall prevention class for the community. I was assigned to be the lead on this project.

I already had a whole outline in my mind of how we could best set up the class. However, it became apparent quickly that my colleagues had their own ideas about how it should work.

I chose to respect them and collaborate with them regarding their ideas instead of shutting them down as the group leader. This is because I respect my colleagues and want them to feel appreciated and motivated to work on this project.

The same applies to relationships. If I never considered my husband’s feelings when it came to relationship dynamics, I can guarantee you that I would be on the fast track towards a dysfunctional relationship.

Being respectful means you often need to be intentional about looking beyond yourself.

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Wrapping up

Showing others respect as an adult doesn’t have to be any more complicated than it was as a 5-year-old in the classroom. With the tips from this article, you can integrate respectful habits into your life to help you create meaningful bonds with those around you. And with a bit of practice, you’re sure to make both your kindergarten teacher and Aretha proud!

How do you show respect to others? Is there a tip that I missed today? Let me know in the comments below!

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Ashley Kaiser

Writer

Physical therapist, writer, and outdoor enthusiast from Arizona. Self-proclaimed dark chocolate addict and full-time adrenaline junkie. Obsessed with my dog and depending on the day my husband, too.

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