Updated: May 5, 2022
It is not easy to earn respect. Or trust. Or credibility. Even so, it is possible. We have the respect of our friends and family because they know us, and they know our accomplishments. When we were children, having a brand-new bicycle earned respect. So did being great at a sport or having the ability to do something cool really well. As we got older, things changed a bit. Sporting the latest fashions, having the trendiest hairstyle, having the most boyfriends or girlfriends. If you were the first to get a car, you earned respect big time. You also commanded attention. However, things were a little trickier if you were a poser. People can see through insincerity. In fact, we learn to spot a phony pretty early on. I am trying to make the point that you have to walk the walk and talk the talk, as they say. Here is an example. You are a girl trying to fit in with the cool kids. You dress like them, try to act, and speak like them. However, you merely mirror them, and your mimicry is not well concealed. Instead of respect, you end up with ridicule and embarrassment. It is not right, but on the other hand, it is also not okay to trick people into being your friend.
Now that we are adults, we should be comfortable enough in our skin just to be ourselves. Let's face it, adolescence and the teen years were tough on many kids. Some of those scars might not have completely healed. Listen, I get it. I was teased in grammar school because I was short (okay, really short), skinny, wore glasses, and had crooked teeth. I was a nerd and a geek. I was called "cat lady" for years because I did a school report on cats. A group of boys would meow as I entered the room. You would think this would have made me shy and withdrawn. Oh no, it did not stop me from being different for some reason. I wore a skirt, and wedge pump heals to a barn dance in sixth grade (at least, I think that was the grade.) All the other girls wore jeans; I insisted on the denim skirt and swore I needed the shoes.
There is a point to this story. I got stares, it did not earn me friends, but I had a great time dancing with a boy I liked. He was also a nerd. Years later, one of my former schoolmates told me how impressed they were that I was so daring. Daring? It never occurred to me at the time that it was daring. I was being myself and didn't stop to think about what other people thought of me. Yet, it earned me respect. The reason is that I wasn't trying to impress anyone; I was just dressing the way that made me happy. I am still that way, and I still don't care what other people think. My opinion is our culture is far too concerned with comfort and less concerned about what our appearance says about us. However, that is just my opinion, and no one should change their ways to please me.
Many people want to fit in, to be part of the crowd. The problem is that when you do that, you don't stand out. Maybe that is what you want, but if so, why are you reading this blog post? If you want to be respected and have people listen to your opinion, you must give them a reason to give a damn about what you have to say. This is not very hard to accomplish in the work environment if you follow some steps. Be on time, do your job well, learn the best ways to perform tasks quickly and efficiently, help others, listen to criticism and learn from it. Offer your opinion only when you have something important to share. In other words, don't talk at meetings to hear your own voice. The less you speak, the better the chance people will listen to you when you do.
Another thing that is important to remember. Do not argue a point if you have no idea what you are talking about! I have been shouted at by members of my family who have an opinion based on nonsense. Everyone has the right to have a point of view, but if what they say is not based on facts, it makes the person look ignorant and foolish, especially if they turn it into an argument. What if you did not know it was not factual? It is possible to read something that seems accurate information, but unfortunately, it is not. If you make a point during a discussion and the other person not only disagrees but tells you that what you said is total bunk, don't get mad and start yelling that you are right. Listen to what they say, admit that it is possible that they are right and you are wrong, and tell them that you will look into what they are telling you. You can even thank them for clarifying it and then move on. We all make mistakes; I know that I have. Admit it, and people will respect you, especially since it is hard to admit when you are wrong. It takes a solid ego to do it with grace, which is why it can earn you admiration. If the people in your circle understand that you don't argue unless you are sure you have the facts straight, they will listen to your opinion. If they don't, that is their problem. If they demand proof, you can give it to them, but you are not likely to change their minds. Some people are addicted to "alternative facts," and they will always have a way of dismissing the truth.
The bottom line is, be yourself, listen more than you speak (at least most of the time), be good at what you do (but don't brag about it), admit when you are wrong, and finally, don't be afraid to be different.
I hope you enjoyed reading my words of wisdom. If not, that is okay. If you did, I have some news for you. I am deep in the midst of writing a book! It should be ready for publishing in a few months. I will keep you up to date.
Until the next blog post, be well, be kind, and be happy. Most importantly, be resolved!