be respectful

The Ultimate Guide to Being Respectful

If you want to be respectful, you have to be able to put yourself in other people’s shoes and make them feel important to you. At its core, being respectful is showing others that you value their views, time, and space. If you want to know more about how to apply this theory in practice, read on.

Show basic respect

Be kind and considerate.

First, being respectful means showing a basic understanding of other people’s feelings. Ask yourself how you would like to be treated in a certain situation, and then try to treat other people the same way. Treat everyone you meet—strangers on the street, co-workers, classmates, and family members—as individuals worthy of your kindness and attention. Treating people with respect makes the world a nicer place for everyone! Here are a few ways you can treat other people kindly: Honor the presence of others. Make eye contact and nod or smile! Offer your place to older or handicapped people. Hold the door open for people with full hands. Greet people in the morning when you come to work. Thank the people who helped you throughout the day, such as the bus driver, the restaurant waitress, the porter, the cashier, and the postman. Offer people food, water, or something else when you see they need it.

Be polite.

The concept of etiquette and good manners may seem meaningless as a child, but as you grow older, you realize that these customs help keep a society running smoothly. Showing good manners is a way of being respectful of others’ time and space. If no one cared about pleasantries, everyday situations like eating at a restaurant, standing in line at the post office, or dealing with traffic jams would degenerate into unbearable situations. Here are a few ways you can be polite: Don’t use your cell phone while you’re in a coffee shop, store, restaurant, or another public place where it might disturb other people. Don’t push yourself. Don’t cut others in traffic. Say please and thank you. Follow the rules designed to make everyone’s life more comfortable, such as limiting your time on a public computer so others can have their turn. Do not eat or drink in places where eating and drinking is prohibited. Stop talking when the lights go out in the theater. Throw away or recycle your trash instead of leaving it for someone else to clean up.

Don’t discriminate against anyone.

Be respectful of everyone – not just the people you know or who you think has a higher status than you. Many people only show respect to people of the higher status to make a good impression and are rude to everyone towards others. A proverb says, “You can tell a person’s true character by how they treat you when they don’t need you (anymore)!”. That means you should also be kind to those who aren’t as “cool” as the popular people you know. Also, be kind to the people who are not always treated with respect. For example, homeless people are often overlooked or treated rudely, but they deserve the same respect and courtesy as everyone else.

Respect differences.

Be respectful of people who are different from you, even though you may not be able to understand them very well. The differences between us make life interesting and, by the way, you probably have a lot more in common with these people than you might think. Even if you absolutely cannot understand someone, be courteous. You don’t have to love everyone you meet, and you certainly don’t have to agree with everyone, but you should still show them respect. Be respectful of people with cultural differences. Be respectful of people with different religious beliefs. Be respectful of people with political views that differ from yours. Be respectful of people who belong to a different team than you (and fans of other teams).

Respect spaces.

Any space you share with other people should be treated with respect. Your home (if you live with other people), your school, your street, your bus route – these familiar “spaces” are also familiar to other people. You wouldn’t like it if other people clutter up the places you go to every day, so you should clean up behind you and do your part to keep the place nice for others. Don’t leave packaging or other rubbish around – pick it up and throw it away. If you make a mess, clean up afterward. Do not spray graffiti on public property (unless you are an artist and have permission).

Respect the earth and all who live on it.

Respect is more than just being nice to everyone. Also, show respect for animals, plants and the earth itself. We all live here together, and each of us deserves respect. Treat every living being as an individual worthy of being treated with kindness. Never hit or otherwise abuse an animal. Use humane methods to get rid of mice or other vermin. Keep natural areas untouched. Adhere to the “leave no trace” philosophy when you go camping. Do your part to avoid polluting the environment. Understand how your actions affect the rest of the world. For example, the pesticide you use can contaminate groundwater and hurt your environment. Try to make conscientious lifestyle choices.

Respect the property of others.

It is considered rude and inconsiderate to take things that do not belong to you on your own. Ask permission first if you want to use someone else’s property. If you don’t do this, you can be accused of theft.

Communicate respectfully

Listen when someone is talking to you.

When you’re having a conversation, being a good listener is a fundamental show of respect. If you seem bored or interrupt the person, you show that you don’t care what he or she has to say. Try to listen carefully and wait for the person to finish before responding. Making eye contact is a good way to show that you respect what someone else has to say. Other signals through body language can also help. Look at the person as they talk to you and try not to fidget. Process what the person said instead of just nodding your head absently.

Think before you speak.

When it’s your turn to speak, try to formulate a respectful response. Pay attention to what the person said and clarify your opinion without undermining the other person’s opinion. Avoid offending the other person by saying something rude or callous. Try not to be condescending. Don’t over-explain a concept that the other person already understands. For example, don’t teach an accomplished athlete how to hit a baseball. Don’t be patronizing. Talking down to someone can make them feel disrespected. Avoid statements like, “Don’t rack your little brain over it” or “That’s a boy thing; you don’t get it.” Be aware of things you shouldn’t bring up. When you don’t know someone that well, there are certain questions you shouldn’t ask. For example, if you’ve just met someone, you shouldn’t confront them directly about the long scar on their forehead.

Respond respectfully.

You can respect someone’s point of view even if you wholeheartedly disagree. The key is to contradict the person without undermining their dignity. For example, you can strongly disagree with a person’s political opinions, but you can still value that person as a human being, which should be reflected in your statements. You should never resort to insults when arguing with someone. Never let “I disagree with you on that” escalate into “You’re an idiot.” If necessary, stop the discussion before saying something you later regret. Disrespecting the other person will not get you anywhere; you’re just making a new enemy.

Don’t pigeonhole other people.

Do not make assumptions about another’s opinion or background based solely on their race, gender, religion, national origin or other factors. Every person is an individual with their own life experiences and wisdom. Don’t make the disrespectful mistake of assuming you know someone before you’ve taken the time to get to know him or her as a person in their own right.

Don’t gossip.

It’s a common form of disrespect that people can usually get away with, but backbiting is a bad habit. This allows you to see people as characters who are open to discussion rather than individuals with feelings of their own who can be deeply hurt. Even the strongest, most annoying, or particularly obnoxious people should not be talked about regularly as if they exist only as a form of entertainment for others. If you don’t have anything good to say about someone, it’s best not to say anything. Protect those weaker than you and try to hide the faults of others.

Be respectful of even those who aren’t respectful of you.

As difficult as it may be, try to show patience and humility. The other person might learn something from you. If the person is rude and mean, try to defend yourself without dropping to their level.

Go further

Show respect to those in legitimate authority.

Some people deserve special marks of respect because of the position they hold. The principal of your school, your boss, your minister/leader, the mayor, the Queen of England – all individuals who have attained leadership positions through special abilities that deserve respect in society. Show authority figures the respect their position deserves by addressing them by their title or by bowing to the queen, for example. Elders also deserve special respect. Respect your parents, grandparents, and other elders in the community for the valuable life wisdom they share with others. Sometimes, it is also important to recognize when an authority figure does not deserve special respect and esteem. When someone betrays your trust and you feel like you can’t respect them anymore, that’s your personal choice, and you have every right to make it. When you stand up to authority, you show respect for yourself and those affected by the authority figure’s power.

Don’t abuse your power.

If you are in a position of power yourself, respect those who trust you by being genuine and kind to them. Don’t ever expect them to “just like that” submit to you. Be the kind of leader people like to follow and not the kind they’re too scared not to follow.

Have empathy.

To understand how to respect others, you must put yourself in their shoes and try to see things from their perspective. You can be polite to others without really caring much about them, but true respect comes from empathy, from a deep sense of mutual understanding. Try to see the connections that bind us all together and the fact that we all share the same planet. Respecting each other is a way of getting along and making the world a better place to live and more enjoyable for everyone.

Final Words

Don’t fight them if they’re mean to you. Just keep calm and be nice to them. Treating others with respect is a necessity in life. Empathizing with or connecting with the other person is a great technique to show respect. Listen carefully and answer intelligently, seriously, and positively; this shows you much respect. Everyone wants what they say to be heard and taken seriously. When you’re talking to someone, look them in the eye steadily but in a friendly way. Be kind as long as your self-esteem and confidence allow. Being respectful not only shows people that you care about other people but also that you care about yourself. The key to being respectful is respecting yourself; If you don’t, other people won’t respect you either.


About the Author

Fernando James

James has offered expert financial insight at CouponAnnie since 2020. As a freelance writer, he has been published in a variety of prominent publications. He's been featured on the Washington Post and Financial Planning Magazine, and has been quoted by Money Magazine, Retailmenot, and more.