13 Meaningful Habits That Make People Instantly Respect You

We all want to command respect, but sometimes it’s tough to know what it even means to be the kind of person other people hold in high esteem. As humans, we’re imperfect and imperfect, and being able to keep your cool and portray yourself as someone who has it all together and who can be counted on to weather pretty much any storm isn’t easy. Luckily, you can easily make people respect you by displaying these seemingly minor but actually very meaningful habits.

1. Being authentic

There’s nothing worse than being around a person who pretends to be someone they’re not, whether because they think it will impress people or because they’re afraid of embracing their authentic self. It reeks of insecurity and fear, and those qualities are inconsistent with someone who’s worthy of respect. By being 100%, unapologetically yourself, you show that you’re comfortable in your own skin and that you accept yourself, flaws and all.

2. Being upfront and honest

Beating around the bush may avoid an awkward situation in the present, but it often snowballs into an even bigger drama in the future. If you want to make people respect you, it’s important that you’re frank, honest, and direct in your communication. Voice your thoughts and opinions clearly but without railroading or speaking over other people. Being able to express yourself — and willing to do so even when speaking to someone you might find intimidating — is an amazing quality to have.

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4. Showing up on time

We all know someone who’s simply always late, and they always have some half-hearted excuse for why it happened. They woke up late, the traffic was bad, they had to stop and buy a latte and the line at Starbucks was horrendous… If everyone else can get places on time, there’s no reason you shouldn’t. By waltzing in when it’s convenient for you, you show a complete lack of regard for other people’s time. You also convey an assumption that everyone will sit around waiting for you, and that’s definitely not the case.

5. Practicing active listening

While communicating clearly is an important way to make people respect you, it works in tandem with active listening. Your voice should never be the only one in a room, and if it is, you’re doing something wrong. It’s important that you hear other people out and that you internalize the things they’re saying. While you may not agree with other people’s opinions, thoughts, or feelings, they’re no less valid because of it.

6. Having integrity

People with true integrity always stand up for what they believe is right. They have a core set of values and beliefs that they never waver on and will always defend. They’re not easily swayed, nor will they stand for injustice. Their dedication to using their voice to protect people who may not be able to speak out on their own behalf makes them admirable, to say the least. If you want to make people respect you, develop a sense of unwavering integrity and don’t let it go.

7. Being respectful

If you want to get respect, you have to give it. Whether it’s the waiter at your local Italian spot, the cleaner at the hotel you’re staying at, or your elderly neighbor, you should treat them with the same level of courtesy and respect that you do your boss or someone in a position of authority. Respect isn’t simply something for the bigwigs. It’s for everyone, so remember that.

8. Being open-minded

Having beliefs and values is important, but so is a willingness to learn new things an adapt your beliefs and perspectives accordingly. No matter how certain you are that a current opinion you have or way of doing something is the correct one, by shutting off any alternatives, you show yourself to be close-minded, short-sighted, and way too stubborn.

9. Showing sympathy and empathy

Being strong, smart, and capable is fantastic, but without the ability to empathize with other people and connect with their humanity, you’ll never make people respect you. You might work hard, but if you can’t give an employee a day off when they’re going through a tough time or offer to help a friend around the house when they’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re showing that you’ve lost sight of one of the most important things: your heart.

10. Being humble

Confidence will take you far in life, but if that crosses over into arrogance, you’re screwed. Humility is an invaluable quality, largely because you’re bound to make mistakes at times — we all do — and refusing to admit them means you’ll never learn or improve. Be willing to hold your hands up when you’ve messed up and say, “My bad!” so that you a) show that you’re accountable for your own actions and don’t need to point the finger at people and b) make room for people to feel more comfortable admitting their own flaws.

11. Showing gratitude

We often get so used to people doing certain things for us that we stop noticing it at all. As a result, they can end up feeling unappreciated and taken for granted, which is not good. If you want people to respect you, make sure to show your appreciation for the things they do, no matter how small. Maybe they grab you coffee on their way into the office or they pick up your dry cleaning because they know you were running late and it’d be closed by the time you got home. These are considerate and thoughtful gestures that deserve recognition.

12. Being reliable

Respectable people are ones that can be counted on. If you say you’ll do something or will be somewhere, you make it happen. You don’t make promises you can’t keep, nor do you take on more responsibility than you know you can actually handle. You should pride yourself on your consistency, being a rock for the people around you, and giving them no reason to doubt you.

13. Being willing to help people

It doesn’t matter how big and important you are or how busy you are — you have to be willing to help other people when they need it. Whether it’s aiding them in brushing up on a new skill, explaining a project that they haven’t quite gotten the hang of, or even volunteering your time to help those less fortunate, doing what you can to make other people’s lives easier is a really commendable quality.

14. Having discipline

You don’t need someone to check in with you and give you a to-do list. If you want to make people respect you, you have to be a self-starter. That means motivating yourself to get up and going, thinking outside the box, and pushing yourself to get things done rather than slacking off. It’s easy to hang around chatting with colleagues when there’s a report due by EOD, but it’s more respectable to get your work done and enjoy socializing once it’s complete and turned in.

Originally from Australia, Emma Mills graduated from the University of Queensland with a dual degree in Philosophy and Applied Linguistics before moving to Los Angeles to become a professional matchmaker (a bit of a shift, obviously). Since 2015, she has helped more than 150 people find lasting love and remains passionate about bringing amazing singletons together.

Emma is also the author of the upcoming Hachette publication, "Off the Beaten Track: Finding Lasting Love in the Least Likely of Places," due out in January 2025.