Judi Light Hopson, Emma H. Hopson and Ted Hagen
Tribune News Service
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) How can you best present yourself to gain respect from the people you encounter each day? There are a few changes you can make (like increasing eye contact) to improve the way people in the world see you.
Do you get upset just thinking about unkind people? Some may ignore you. Others may criticize you behind your back. And worse, some may verbally disrespect you face-to-face.
Gaining respect starts with becoming centered in feeling good about yourself. If you present your best self to the world, it’s easier to ignore those who don’t respect you. You can’t stop them, necessarily, but if you respect yourself, it’s easier to put up a protective “shield.”
Your goal is to become someone you respect in every regard, so it’s easier to stand your ground if trouble comes calling.
“My sister Jeanna got a big promotion at the bank where she works,” says a physician’s assistant we’ll call Jeffrey. “She has spent a lot of time with a career coach, and it’s paid off.”
Jeffrey says Jeanna worked on the following techniques:
— She learned to stop overtalking. Her coach showed her that people who use fewer words are more credible. You don’t have to overexplain all of your ideas. Be confident and deliver your opinion in just a few words.
— She stopped dressing too sexy at work. Jeanna learned that looking professional works better in a job setting. Her coach helped her purchase higher-quality clothes and aim for a conservative look.
— She worked at acting friendly to co-workers and clients. People find it easier to respect you if they know you’re warm and approachable. We all gravitate to those who, we believe, care about our feelings.
— She learned to ask others for their opinions. For example, if a young couple comes in for a loan, Jeanna starts by asking them what outcome they desire. She takes notes about the expectations of her clients. People respect us when we take time to view the world from their perspective.
“I used to think people didn’t give me respect, because I’m a little overweight and over 50,” says a teacher’s aide we’ll call Patricia. “One of my co-workers told me, ‘You have beautiful eyes, but you never make eye contact with anyone.’”
Patricia finally figured out that diverting her gaze in social or business situations messed with her confidence. Looking people in the eye speaks volumes. It says, essentially, “I want to connect with you.”
Practicing confident speech, dressing in a way that denotes confidence and acting friendly can enhance the respect you get. When people start to approach you for your ideas, you’ll know they trust you. You’ll feel they really desire to know what’s on your mind.
“When I first started selling real estate, I was so shaky,” laughs a friend of ours we’ll call Bethany. “I would literally walk up to people sideways, looking like I wanted to run.”
Bethany finally found her calmer, centered self when she began to ask more questions.
“I realized the clients were counting on me to help them find a home,” says Bethany. “I needed to take them seriously by guiding them to good decisions.”
Getting your mind off yourself and becoming interested in others can reduce a lot of tension. For example, if you’re at your spouse’s family reunion, pay a few compliments and take your mind off yourself.
“When I was a young news reporter, I had to cover all kinds of stories,” says a journalist we’ll call Kaylee. “I decided to do a lot of background research before I arrived at a political rally or sporting event. When I was able to ask intelligent questions, my interview subjects opened up and showed me respect.”
(Judi Light Hopson is the Executive Director of the stress management website USA Wellness Café at usawellnesscafe.com. Emma Hopson is an author and a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.)
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