11 behaviors that make people respect you less (and what to do instead)

by Lachlan Brown | March 15, 2024, 12:45 pm

If you’ve stumbled upon this article, you’re probably aware that something’s off.

You feel a void, a disconnect between you and those around you. You notice their raised eyebrows, forced smiles, and awkward silences whenever you’re around, leaving you to wonder, “Why don’t people respect me as much as I’d like?”

It’s time to look in the mirror. While the treatment of others is sometimes a projection of how they treat themselves, you might also have been doing things that chip away at their respect.

Let’s see what those things could be. Here are 11 things you might be doing that are making people respect you less. 

1) You Keep Lying and Don’t Keep Promises

Respect isn’t earned overnight; it’s built upon honesty and reliability.

Yet, it’s also fragile. Like a mirror, once shattered, it’s not easily repaired.

The fragments of distrust and disappointment often remain, distorting people’s perception of us.

We’ve all been there – the convenient little white lie that seems harmless at the moment or the unfulfilled promise with good intentions, however seemingly inconsequential, can undermine the trust and respect people have for you.

Keep in mind that being a person of integrity isn’t just about you. You’re also setting an example for others, too.

If you keep lying or not following through with commitments, you’re sending a message that it’s okay for others to do the same.

So strive to be honest, even when it’s tough – people will appreciate you for it.

2) You’re Rude to Others

An unnecessary side comment here, a sarcastic remark there, a careless dismissal elsewhere – and you’ve got the perfect recipe to have people lose respect for you.

The thing about rudeness is that it’s usually habitual. You might not notice that you’ve been causing irreparable damage for quite some time.

Being rude doesn’t just affect the person you’re speaking to. It also impacts the way others perceive you. They might think you’re inconsiderate and disrespectful; thus, you don’t deserve respect.

Start practicing empathy. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

Also, remember that everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.

In a world where you can be anything, I hope you choose to be kind.

3) You Like to Gossip

Sharing juicy and spicy stories might seem harmless at first; however, beneath the intrigue of gossip is actually some judgement and resentment.

Gossip – whether it’s about a celebrity, colleague, or friend – is essentially a conversation that aims to reveal secrets and opinions about someone who’s not present. It’s a breach of trust.

This can make people wary of you, for who knows when they might become the subject of your next gossip session?

I once worked in an office where gossip was as common as coffee breaks. It was a toxic environment.

But to be honest, I was partly to blame – until a colleague called me out. She pulled me aside. With a stern look in her eyes and a firmness in her voice, she said, “You’re better than this.”

The gravity of those four words hit me. It wasn’t about just having a harmless chat anymore. I was hurting my relationships.

Related: 12 signs you’re highly perceptive (you notice things other people don’t)

4) You Have Poor Body Language

Communication goes beyond the spoken word. Poor body language – such as slumped shoulders, crossed arms, avoiding eye contact, and fidgeting – can signal a lack of confidence or interest, both of which can cause others to respect you less.

These little things matter. These are non-verbal ways of showing respect.

When your body language doesn’t align with the words you’re saying, it creates a dissonance that can lead to misunderstanding and doubt.

For instance, if you’re projecting your voice well but your body language is timid and unsure, people will likely trust your body language more than your words.

This can cause them to doubt your capabilities and respect you less.

5) You Don’t Apologize When You’re Wrong

When you don’t admit your mistakes or apologize for them, it shows that you value your ego more than the feelings of others. You lack humility and accountability.

In other words, you haven’t been able to accept your flaws and learn from them.

This kind of stubbornness can result in damaged relationships and a loss of respect from others.

I understand that this can be a complex trait to learn, especially if you weren’t raised in an affectionate and gentle environment.

For now, you can start cultivating a habit of self-reflection; be open to feedback and criticism.

Swallow your pride. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s how we handle them that defines our character and influences how others respect us.

Humility earns more respect than arrogance ever will.

6) You Don’t Listen to Others’ Thoughts and Ideas

The ability to listen, really listen, is an underrated skill.

We’re so consumed with voicing our own thoughts, opinions, our preference for pineapples on pizza, that we forget to lend our ears to the other person.

Doing so is a sign of respect. It’s an unfortunate reality that this skill is seldom taught or recognized, but its impact on earning respect is so profound.

I remember going to a conference, and this one girl caught my eye.

A woman of few words, but when she spoke, people listened.

I realized this was because everyone who has ever had a conversation with her always felt valued and understood. The respect was mutual.

Related: 18 little habits to start doing now to be ahead of everyone else in 10 years

7) You Don’t Value Others’ Personal Space

Personal space isn’t just physical; it extends to personal lives, privacy, and comfort zones.

When you overstep in someone’s personal space, it can make them feel uncomfortable and disrespected.

It shows that you’re the type of person who disregards boundaries – someone who doesn’t take into consideration others’ feelings, even when not explicitly expressed.

Be mindful of the signals others are giving off. If someone has closed-off body language or seems like they want to withdraw from an interaction, they might feel like their personal space has been invaded.

Equally, be sensitive about prying into people’s personal lives unless they’re willing to share that information with you.

Oh, and here’s a pro tip: If you’re at a social gathering, a good rule of thumb is to maintain an arm’s length distance.

8) You’re Too Focused on Material Possessions

Given how saturated our world is with advertisements and social media influencers, it can be so easy to fall into the trap of believing that material possessions equate to self-worth and respect.

Fancy cars. Luxury clothing. Latest gadgets. Who wouldn’t want any of these, right?

Let’s flip the script. Believe it or not, material possessions create the opposite effect: You’re communicating that your values lie more in the superficial than in the meaningful aspects of life.

This obsession masks a deeper insecurity, a fear that without these trappings, we’re less valuable or less worthy of respect.

Well, I’m here to tell you that true respect comes from who you are as a person – your character, values, and actions – not what you own.

9) You’re Too Indecisive

Indecisiveness can be frustrating for those around you. It can come off as a lack of confidence or an inability to take responsibility.

When it leads to delays and inefficiencies – maybe even over time – this can degrade the respect people have for you.

So how can you become more decisive? Start by accepting that not all decisions will be perfect and that’s okay.

There’s nothing wrong with making informed decisions that are mixed with gut feeling.

What matters is that you’re willing to learn from the outcome, whether it’s positive or negative.

During my early 20s, I was the most indecisive person you would ever meet, and I noticed a lot of people were getting irritated with how long it takes me to make a choice.

One day, my dad gave me a piece of advice that stuck with me: “A good decision now is better than a perfect decision in two weeks.”

10) You Always Want to Be the Center of Attention

Craving attention is a natural human tendency. However, if it becomes a constant need, that’s when we have a problem.

You need to understand that being the center of attention and the loudest in the room might get you noticed, but it won’t necessarily earn you respect. You just get a temporary spotlight.

Focus on building deep, meaningful connections. Show genuine interest in others; value their opinions and perspectives; be supportive.

Show that you’re interested in not just being heard but also in hearing others.

This shift in behavior can significantly enhance the respect you receive.

11) You Make Overly Emotional Reactions

While there’s no denying that emotions are part of the human experience, we shouldn’t let these control us.

Overly emotional reactions, especially in inappropriate contexts, can be disruptive and result in a perception of instability or the inability to self-regulate.

It can also push people away as they may feel that they have to tread lightly around you to avoid triggering an emotional outburst.

Mindfulness is key. Whenever you feel intense emotions – be it extreme joy, anger, or sadness, among others – take a breather.

Practice the “5-7-8” technique – breathe in for 5 seconds, hold for 7, and exhale for 8. Take a moment to process the situation.

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