Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

Respect: The Cornerstone of Success

To gain respect, openly and sincerely bring yourself to the table.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

is your most powerful tool in business, as in all of . If people don't respect you, you're pretty much done. That holds true if you're a boss, an employee or a freelancer. If you make a mistake, but people respect you, they will be . But the converse is also true: If you make a mistake and they do not respect you, they will use it as further validation of their disrespect. So, what are the ingredients of respect? How do you gain another person's respect? And perhaps even more importantly, how do you lose people's respect?

Tom Werner | Getty Images

1. Infallibility.

First of all, nobody is always right. If you demand of yourself that you always be right or if you have to convince others you are always right, you continually place yourself in a no-win situation.

People immediately see through your mask if you present yourself as always being right or are unable to acknowledge that you made a mistake. They will lose respect for you. How ironic it is that so many people feel they cannot possibly make such an acknowledgement, for fear of losing another's respect. They can't even admit it to themselves, for fear of loss of self-respect.

Related: Here's How to Gain Respect Instead of Making an Enemy

One of the first things you have to do in life is to cultivate a healthy relationship with being wrong. If you can develop that and direct it toward yourself and others, life will work much better for you.

2. Superficiality.

Trying to gain respect by upholding some superficial image doesn't work. There are, of course, certain rules of etiquette that we adhere to, but that's not how you gain respect. People perceive and sense things far more deeply than they are often aware of. They can sense if you're sincere, truthful, disingenuous or conflicted within yourself, etc. You can go a long way towards gaining respect when you realize that undesirable qualities cannot be hidden and desirable qualities cannot be faked. Coming from a deeper, more authentic place within you is something that has to be practiced. It's an attribute that can be cultivated.

For help with this, reflect upon your awkward teenage years. Some kids try to be cool, while others are shy, introverted, and can hardly speak out at all. Some act tough to hide their own sense of inferiority, and others behave cocky or flippant for the same reason. Seeing all that in teens is pretty easy to do. Unfortunately, adults putting up a front are better at disguising it. But, going through life not understanding how you undermine being respected is a waste. People would do very well to reflect upon their behavior to see how superficial or deep it is.

3. Inauthenticity.

Certainly the surface matters, but its value is exponentially diluted and undermined if it is used to mask the depth. Given half a chance, people will look to what lies deeper inside other people, and they will respect that. Innumerable superficial flaws are forgiven when people can see more deeply within you. For example, on the surface, a person may be shy and awkward. But at depth, their goodness and can still shine through. People respond to that goodness and humility.

Related: Want a More Creative Team? Start by Taming Your Own Ego.

You would do well to look for those deeper values in other people. You would do even better to feel them within yourself and share those deeper qualities with others. Those deeper qualities inform an understanding of life. We are all human. We all have our flaws and idiosyncrasies. But if we come from a genuine place inside, our authenticity will be responded to positively.

It's essential to understand that what dwells deep within is good and cherished by others. Thinking one's value lies on the surface of life is a grave error. One's greatest asset is to understand how to allow the goodness which dwells within to shine forth, through to the surface.

4. Miscommunication.

True is the most challenging aspect of business. Lack of communication is a great cause of conflict and financial loss. Of course, to communicate means to commune. There is nothing more refreshing, respected and inspiring, than people who maturely, wisely, and effectively bring themselves to the table. To do that is to commune-icate.

Gaining respect in business is really simple. Understanding respect is the gateway to self-confidence. To know yourself is to have an awareness of the goodness which dwells within. To know yourself is to respect yourself and to be self-confident. It comes naturally. Otherwise, you are selling yourself the lie that the surface is what matters.

Related: 10 Qualities of Authentic People

Gaining respect is just about openly and sincerely bringing yourself to the table -- for all to see. What skills, assets, and talents you have on the surface must stand on that foundation. Otherwise, relationships have no solid base and as a result, the corporate setting becomes nothing more than a house of cards ready to crumble, at great expense. A company built of people sharing mutual respect has unlimited power. Challenges, conflicts and obstacles of all sorts can be overcome. As in all of life, business is about people. It's all about relationships. Constructive relationships are founded upon mutual respect.

Entrepreneur Editors' Picks