Respect spelled out on wood blocks.
There is a single quality that is key to success in all facets of life: respect.
Whether you are a stay-at-home parent or a wealthy business owner, you can’t have productive, positive interactions without respect. You could be the most qualified applicant for a job and still be denied it if you show disrespect for your superiors. Even if you’re a grade-A student, you have to respect your teacher’s feedback if you want to succeed.
Respect is a delicate thing. Don’t let these three traits cause others to lose respect for you:
Failure to Listen
Everyone likes to be heard. It’s why we all learned to talk as young kids, and it’s how we get along as adults.
Someone who fails to acknowledge others’ ideas can’t expect their own to be taken seriously. An employee who doesn’t feel like his manager cares about his input is less likely to volunteer innovation ideas. Children who sense their parents don’t listen to them will stop asking them for answers and will instead turn to other sources.
My industry, marketing, is supposed to be great at communication. And yet, I can’t count the number of projects I’ve seen stall simply because someone wasn’t listening to directions. It’s frustrating, and worse, it’s entirely preventable.
Lack of Empathy
Empathy is the ability of someone to share and understand the feelings of another. And it’s just as important, if not more, for leaders than for everyone else.
Gary Vaynerchuk, a best-selling author and a key role model of mine, points to empathy as the secret to his success. One of his favorite sayings is that “being nice is ROI-positive.” In other words, if you’re kind to others, the return you’ll receive will always be greater than the energy you invested.
As social animals, we are drawn to kind, thoughtful people. The reason is so simple it’s easy to forget: They lift us up, emotionally and in our own pursuits. Respect and empathy are intertwined; with one comes the other. Easy ways to show empathy include:
- Give them your full attention.
You can’t get on the same page with someone emotionally if you’re staring at your computer screen while they talk. Be present in the moment rather than worry about what you’ll say next.
- Reflect their feelings back to them.
Let yourself get swept up in the emotions of the person you’re speaking with. Don’t be inauthentic, but do meet them where they are. If they just got engaged, be happy for them. If they just got bad news, show that you’re sad for them.
- Avoid passing judgment.
Someone who shares a mistake with you doesn’t want to be criticized for it. Rather than telling them how to feel or what to do, just listen. Accept that others are in charge of their own lives.
- Say “thank you.”
When someone opens up to you about their emotions, they’re giving you the gift of trust. Don’t take that lightly. Tell them how much you appreciate their candor.
Breaking Your Promises
Our words mean very little if they are not backed by actions. Even leaders make mistakes, but repeat mismatches between what we say and what we do cause others to lose respect for us.
We make little promises here and there every day. Appointments, for example, are commitments we make that others expect us to honor. If we fail to show up without giving advance notice, we’ve wasted their time. Our behavior conveys disrespect for them, which causes them to lose respect for us.
The solution to this is simple: Make good on your promises. People notice when you are true to your word, and they’ll be more likely to trust and respect you because of it.
Yes, life can be unpredictable. If something does come up unexpectedly, it takes just a little time to notify others of your situation. This prevents them from wondering why you would be so inconsiderate of their time.
These are not the only traits that can cause others to lose respect for you, but they’re certainly a start. Treating others respectfully results in reciprocation of that respect. Respect is what builds relationships, and strong relationships produce a better life for you and a better world around you.