What makes a person respect someone else?

Why do we respect certain people?  How do we earn the respect of others?  These are interesting questions.  There are a million different scenarios that could directly lead to one person gaining the respect of another, but each one of these scenarios probably has one of a few underlying characteristics.  First, allow me to define what I mean by “respect for someone else”.  I define this respect as a feeling of social approval and high regard for another individual.

showing respectWithout being excessively long winded on a topic that could cross numerous boundaries of personal opinion and debate, I’m going to keep it simple and just state why I believe that I respect certain people.  Notice my use of the expression “I believe”.  I use this expression because I am aware that there are certain public personalities in this world whom I’ve gained respect for through mass media, but have never actually met.

The distribution of respect is probably more of an art than it is a science.  It depends on the individual persona of each character involved.  I’d be curious to know how other people feel about this subject.  Here are five general qualities a person can hold that I believe motivates an increase in other people’s feelings of respect toward them:

  1. Confidence and pride in oneself while simultaneously being considerate of others
  2. Aiding someone in need without expectation of reward
  3. Honesty at all times, but especially in a moment of tension
  4. Achieving a goal or holding a societal status that the individual desires
  5. Holding the respect of a third party that the individual admires (following the masses)


  1. K says

    Okay, so do you believe that an employer-employee relationship can be one where respect can be transfered to a relationship of respect after said relationship changes in regard to dynamics?

  2. says

    In a confusing sort of way, that is exactly what I am saying. You don’t have to respect your boss. Many people take orders from corporate managers and bosses on a daily basis. But they don’t respect them… they fear for their job security, so they do as they’re told.

    Respect is an emotional feeling of high regard. Employee-employer relationships can easily evolve into a state of mutual respect, but unfortunately it doesn’t always happen that way.

  3. Katie says

    I myself have a problem. I have known a girl for 3 years. She has helped me a lot every step of the way and has provided me with a home. She does everything you listed but one thing. When she does aid someone, she expects something out of you. She wants a lot in return. I respect her a lot then suddenly she complains about how I don’t respect her at all. When in reality, she does not respect me at all. As you can see… we have a lot of problems on our plate. How can I fix this “respect” issue?

  4. says

    Katie, it sounds to me like you and your friend are experiencing a complete breakdown in communication. If you truly respect her the way you say you do, make sure she knows it. Take her out to dinner, have a couple drinks, and let her know how much you appreciate her friendship and the assistance she has provided you. At this point you could ask her if there is anything you can assist her with.

    In my opinion, if two rational people are in a dispute over a subjective topic like “mutual respect”, proper communication is the missing link. Best of luck to you.

  5. Sari says

    I think the only thing “respected people” have in common is charisma. People who are respected in any circle are those who seem to pull people to them. They laugh easy and appear to have a way about them that makes anything they say –whether it’s undeniably right or absolutely wrong– taken seriously.

    The way you’re talking about respect makes me (and probably me alone) think of an ideal person; someone who has perfection. Personally, I think having respect for someone has nothing to do with honesty or integrity of that person. It has nothing to do with accomplishments. And, trust me when I say, you can respect someone even if they lie through their smiling teeth.

    Rather, when I think of respectable people I think of those who have charisma. They may be accomplished or not, but for some inexplicable reason they are the ones you’d follow out of a burning building. Whether you should follow them, well, that’s another matter entirely.

  6. says

    While I certainly agree that charisma is a factor, I think it’s just one more element of the bigger picture. I would be more inclined to trust someone with outstanding charisma, but I wouldn’t trust them solely because of it.

    Either way, charisma is a great addition to the list. Thanks for the insight. 😉

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