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How to Recieve Respect

Here is a common question that I receive: “Dave, how do I engender the respect of _______. It may be their boss, employees, spouse, customers, vendors, even themselves!

The short answer is if you want to receive respect, give it. It’s called the law of reciprocity. What you sow, you reap. Respect is something that you can choose to give or withhold. You can’t force or demand another person’s respect. Though you can’t force another person respect you, you can choose to respect or disrespect them. Herein lies the key. This is how the principle works. When you choose to sincerely respect others, they will typically respect you.

How does this look in practical terms? Answer this question. When do you feel respect from others? For me, it is when they truly demonstrate a sincere interest in me. They care. It is often expressed when they give me their undivided attention and listen deeply. It is the way they listen; intensely, but with acceptance, openness and a sincere desire to understand my situation and point of view. I feel most respected when they truly just want to understand where I am coming from and withhold criticism and judgement.

How do you feel when truly listens and understands you? My guess is that you want to listen to understand them. In the words of Steven Covey, effective leaders seek first to understand before being understood. Such leaders know that great agreement is created in the context of mutual understanding.

Many questions will arise when you begin to shift unconditionally offer respect to others. “Dave, if I freely give respect, won’t people take advantage of me? Don’t you think respect must be earned before it is given?” I do not. I encourage those I coach to be the first to respect. As they sow seeds of sincere kindness by listening, they break the downward spiral of rudeness, disrespect, apathy and resentment by giving respect before receiving it.

My challenge is for you to demonstrate respect and kindness today by deeply listening to someone without judgment and criticism. Your sole purpose is to listen to understand. You will be amazed at what is returned.

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