Even before Aretha Franklin had her hit record in 1967, people have been demanding respect. Odd, since respect is something that must be earned more with action and less with words. Some people are naturally respected; others have to work for it. It can often depend on the people you hang around or the environment in which you live or work.

It’s never too late to start earning respect if you feel it's lacking. You should start by taking an honest look at yourself and how you treat the people around you. Then go to work on being respect-worthy. Here is my best tip for gaining respect, and more insights from my Inc. colleagues.

1. Start with them.

 The number-one obstacle to earning respect is narcissism. If the first impression people get is that you are all about you, you will have a tough hill to climb to be respected. Be aware of what is happening in people's lives. Act as an observer before taking action. Show genuine interest and empathy. If you authentically work to improve the environment for the betterment of all, respect will rain down upon you.

2. Find respect for yourself first.

Forget hoping for respect. Some people will respect you, some won’t--you can’t control it. Focus on feeling good about yourself and what you do. Find ways to measure what you do, and evaluate yourself using those standards. If you’re doing what is right, what is best, and what works for you--and those things are helping you achieve your goals--then the people who matter will naturally respect you. But better yet, you’ll respect yourself, and that’s the best respect of all. --Owner's Manual

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3. Follow the golden rule.

To gain respect, you must be worthy of being respected. Be a good person--someone who looks for the best in others and who follows through on his or her promises. Tell the truth, be transparent, and genuinely care about others. Show your gratitude early and often. Respect the people you work with, and they will respect you in return. --The Leadership Guy

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4. Begin with self-confidence.

Gaining the respect of others begins with respecting and believing in yourself. A lack of self-confidence is easily recognized--consciously or subconsciously--by those from whom you wish to earn respect. People who become overly absorbed in their quest for admiration definitely appear lacking in confidence. So just let it go. Live your purpose, help and respect others, and enjoy the process, and then you'll be a magnet for respect. --The Successful Soloist

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5. Understand that respect is reflected.

Respect is a direct reflection of how you treat others. Building respect takes time and is earned as you interact with others. When you don't feel respected, it's easy to overcompensate and start barking orders, micromanaging tasks, bragging about your accomplishments, and demanding attention. This behavior pushes others away and results in less respect. This is a common problem for new managers as they learn how to effectively lead a team. Qualities of the most respected individuals I work with include quietness, thoughtfulness, and inquisitiveness. These traits reflect their desire to respect and listen to others. When these leaders make a decision, no matter how unpopular, their teams are accepting because of the respect they have for the leader. --Lean Forward

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