The 7 Qualities of People Who Are Highly Respected

Leaders are judged on their results and respected for how well they treat people.

learn more about Jacqueline Whitmore

By Jacqueline Whitmore • Mar 15, 2016

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Respect is something not automatically given. It must be earned. When you're in a leadership position, it is imperative that the people with whom you work respect you. They might respect your work habits, your intelligence, or your ability to close a deal. Yet, there's more to respect than that. If you can earn their respect as a person, then you've really won the game.

Here are some tips for earning more respect.

1. Be polite.

Always be polite to everyone you meet during the day, from your family members to your co-workers, to the checkout person at the grocery store. Give others the same respect you'd like to receive yourself. Seek out actions you can take to offer politeness. Open the door at the coffee shop for the person behind you, or let the person with one item go ahead of you in the grocery store. Say please and thank you whenever possible.

2. Act respectfully.

Eliminate disrespectful behaviors such as rolling your eyes, interrupting or talking negatively about someone. Not only are these actions not respectful of the person you're interacting with, they deter or prevent further involvement or resolution of issues, and create a wedge that can become permanent. Instead, foster an environment of respectful listening. Everyone deserves to be heard, even if you don't agree with a person's views or opinions. Consider how you'd like to be treated if you have something to say, especially if there is an important issue at hand.

Related: 7 Ways to Have a Pleasant Conversation With a Negative Person

3. Listen well.

Listening is an active process, not a passive one. Think before you speak. Most often in today's conversations, one person's comments "trigger" thoughts in the listener, who then brings forth their own story along the same lines. Instead of telling your tale, ask questions that encourage the speaker to tell you more. Most people will be flattered that you care.

4. Be helpful.

People earn respect by always being ready to lend a hand or an ear whenever they're needed or notice an opportunity to help. Look for opportunities to help that you might have previously overlooked. Does a co-worker need help with a big project? Can you grab a cup of coffee for someone? Strive to be helpful several times a day.

Related: Listening Is an Art, and Mastering it Will Make You a Great Leader

5. Don't make excuses.

Your actions are based on your choices, and barring some unforeseen circumstance, there is no reason for excuses. Own your actions. For example, if you're constantly late, don't make lame excuses. Own up to your mistakes and instead of dwelling on them, look for opportunities to move past them and do better next time. Instead of focusing on your shortcomings, ask, "How can I rectify my behavior or situation?"

6. Let go of anger.

Holding on to anger or a grudge doesn't hurt anyone but yourself. If you get upset, allow yourself to be angry momentarily, then move on and either rectify the situation or put it behind you. Give yourself and others a break. Forgive, and then forget.

Related: 4 Ways to Defuse Your Anger Before It Blows Up Your Career

7. Be willing to change.

Being intractable won't get you anywhere. Realize that the process of evolution includes change. Make an effort to grow as a person; learn new skills, try new activities, and especially, re-examine your automatic behaviors. And don't forget to congratulate yourself on progress you make along the way to becoming a better person.

Jacqueline Whitmore

Author, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).

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