October 26, 2020

Confucius said it best: “Respect yourself and others will respect you.” But in this day and age, respect may be harder to earn than money. Why? Because it is not automatically given to anyone and it takes years of demonstrating good character before people hold you in high esteem. However, there are ways to command more respect in the workplace—and it doesn’t involve being nice. Start by changing your attitude and behaviour, it’s all about how you present yourself to others. Here are five useful tips that you can do:

Dress appropriately with care

Editor-in-chief of ELLE Nina García once said, “Style is a deeply personal expression of who you are, and every time you dress, you are asserting a part of yourself.” If you want to win the approbation of others, dress in a way that shows you take pride in your appearance. As superficial as it may seem, people form an impression of a person within the seven seconds of meeting, and the first thing they notice is how attractive he or she is. So ditch the sloppy, ill-fitting threads and wear something more elegant and presentable. Choose clothing that flatters your figure and make sartorial choices that make you feel confident. Don’t be afraid to dress up. There is something about knowing you look put together to give you that additional boost in confidence.  

Use the power of body language

Studies have proven that touch is more versatile than other modalities of expression. It is also a vital part in building human connections as it creates trust and intimacy. However, be aware of what constitutes an “appropriate” touch. Psychologists have noted that a simple touch on someone’s arm at the right moment can increase compliance and make you appear more persuasive. However, do be mindful that your touch does not linger for more than five seconds. Observe how people react to your touch and adjust accordingly if there are signs of discomfort. You can also use physical space to your advantage if you are looking to command more respect. Take up more space by standing tall and rolling your shoulders back when you walk into a room. When communicating, maintain direct eye contact, have a straight posture and speak firmly (but not aggressively). Utilise outstretched gestures such as the open palm to build trust and rapport with your audience. It is a psychological trick that shows people you are honest and trustworthy. Avoiding eye contact, slouching or bending your head down makes you appear meek and passive.

Hold firm to your values

People will treat us the way we allow them to. If someone is trying to usurp your authority or manipulate you, don’t stoop to their level. It’s entirely possible to win them over with your warmth and don’t be afraid to address it directly (publicly or privately). If you feel that it’s not worth your energy or time, then try your best to ignore it. Never allow their comments to get under your skin, as they are trying to get a reaction out of you. Most of all, always hold true to your values and never compromise your integrity. When people see that you stick to your guns, they will respect you even if they might disagree with your stance. Being excessively nice or pliable all the time won’t do you any good, conversely, people might even think you’re a poor leader with no backbone.

Speak positively about others

Choose your words wisely as they can help you to gain respect. Learn how to speak in a positive yet authoritative manner, without being boastful. You want to come across as eloquent and self-assured. Be inspiring and uplifting, rather than negative and critical. Never belittle or demean others, as it only shows your lack of confidence, no matter how justified you may be. Give a compliment where it is due, even if it’s your competitor for a job well done; this will gain the respect of your team and industry peers. Remember to show consideration towards others—even if you dislike them. Avoid gossiping about them as you will only end up with a mean-spirited reputation.

Always aim to add value in whatever you do

Prominent entrepreneurs like the late Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are well-respected because they find ways to offer value to people—be it a product or a service. Although the concept of value is subjective, it’s about creating something that can help to improve lives or solve existing problems. Notice how well-regarded people are always brimming with ideas on how to raise the bar and are constantly looking to improve the status quo? Part of adding value is also being relentlessly proactive and keeping to your promises when you say that you are going to deliver. When you are smart, resourceful and lead by action instead of talking about how great you are (like Trump), others will want to work for you.