Why Is Being Respectful Important? (It’s Not What You Might Think!)


You might consider it obvious to show respect to people in business and relationships. And yet, so often we find it so difficult to be respectful! I wanted to go deep on this topic, to find out exactly why it’s so important in all of our lives. So I’ve done some reading. The following article is a summary of all of the ideas I have come across in my research.

I will try to answer the question from a business, a relational, and a spiritual perspective. Hopefully, what I have found can help you to better understand why respect is such a crucial component of living an awesome life.

Why is being respectful important?

Being respectful is a hugely important skill to master for your business, your relationships and for your own mental health. This is because when people feel respected, they are far more likely to reciprocate that respect back to you; People appreciate being seen and heard. Contrastingly, when people don’t feel like you respect their perspective, it can be very hard to coexist and maintain a positive relationship. 

Read also: The 12 characteristics of a virtuous person!

How being respectful helps your business

funny picture of a business man

Being respectful helps sales and negotiation

“Respect is a two way street: If you want to get it, you’ve got to give it”

R.G Risch

When you think about it, sales is one person feeling good about handing their cash over to another person. You have to sell something of value, sure. 

But people also need to trust your integrity and feel that you can back up the claims you have made. 

If you want to get people to trust you, think about what kind of attitude the people that you trust have. How do they talk to people?

We all like people who deal with us respectfully. We can all pick up on even the most subtle disrespect when it comes our way, and it tends to leave us with a sour taste in our mouths!

Don’t get me wrong. If your main reason to be respectful is to get better at sales,

You want to see someone about that.

But it’s a nice bonus at least!

Being respectful prevents you from burning bridges

“Don’t burn bridges. You’ll be surprised how many times you have to cross the same river”

There is mixed advice out there about whether to burn bridges. Honestly, I wouldn’t say you should ever rule it out. At the end of the day,

Some people are like crabs in a bucket.

These people only hinder your own progress and have to go, but otherwise you should be careful about which bridges you burn. This is where the idea of respect comes in. 

When you are respectful in your dealings with people, you can leave people with a good impression of who you are and what you are about. This is worth pursuing for its own sake, but it can also pay in the long run as you are more likely to get help from those people if you ever do need it. 

If you Dont respect people, people won’t like you and you’ll be limited in your choice of who you can work with.

This isn’t a great long term strategy!

Read also: 9 people who stood up for what they believed in!

Being respectful leads to better collaboration

two people collaborating on a project

“It is the long history of humankind that those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed”

Charles Darwin

Collaboration is absolutely fundamental to success in most realms of human endeavor. 

Business is no different. 

By showing respect to your employees and work colleagues, They are much more likely to feel valued and trusted.

This makes them far more likely to bring their best to the table.

Here’s Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, sharing his thoughts about the power of collaboration:

How being respectful helps your relationships

John Gottman might be the most respected relationship and parenting therapist in the world. In the seven principles for making marriage work, Gottman speaks about the emotional bank account- a powerful analogy for explaining why some marriages fail, whilst others flourish. 

This animated video explains the emotional bank account:

Being respectful helps people feel seen and heard

When you are respectful in a relationship, your partner feels seen and heard. To use the above analogy, small acts of respect and appreciation are like positive deposits into the emotional bank account. 

The thing to consider is that, these positive deposits don’t have to be buying something for your partner or some over the top romantic display. 

Really listening to what they have to say, making them feel like you understand their pain and showing them respect despite their flaws; these are all things that will hugely benefit your relationship over time. 

Read also: The Bitcoin Standard (review/summary!)

Being respectful makes you more likable

How much easier is it to like someone when we feel respected by them? 

Sometimes in a relationship, there are difficult conversations that need to be had. Two people will always disagree about certain things, and the day will come where you are both going to have to figure out compromises and sacrifices that have to be made. 

This process will always be hard. There’s really no two ways about it.

That being said, it sure is easier when you and your partner genuinely like and respect each other. With that mutual respect, these conversations will only be as hard as they need to be. 

Being respectful means you can ask for what you need more openly

woman having a really difficult conversation on the phone

To best explain this idea, let’s go back to the emotional bank account analogy.

It’s inevitable that sometimes in a relationship, you are going to have to ask your partner to either do something they really don’t want to do, or stop doing something in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. 

This is really unavoidable, and is essentially taking an amount from your emotional bank account.

If you live together respectfully and keep showing each other love and affection, this is no problem. You will still be net positive, and your partner is likely to be understanding and complying with your request.

How being respectful helps you spiritually

“You harm yourself, as dust against the wind comes back to the thrower”


We are all familiar with the concept of karma. When you put good energy out into the world, it will always come back to you in some form or another. I am not just talking about material rewards here, either; People who genuinely respect and do well by others can build genuine self respect and have genuine peace. 

Check out this in depth guide by actualized.org, about what karma is and how it really works:

A practical guide to being respectful

Hopefully by now you’re on board with being respectful! Here’s 5 actionable steps that you can take, to make people feel more respected around you today.

  1. Really listen to what people say.

When someone is talking to you, are you waiting for them to stop so that you can speak? Or are you really hearing what it is they are saying? 

It’s easy for us to think we know best, but people can always tell whether or not you are actually listening to them. Learn to listen before you speak, and often people will reciprocate the respect you have given them.

  1. Readily admit when you make mistakes.
woman admiting she's wrong gif

The thing about mistakes, is that we all make them. By trying to hide errors, or trying to cover up where we have gone wrong, it actually makes people respect you less.

By openly admitting mistakes that you’ve made, the person that you are talking to now feels better about sharing their own flaws. The fact that you’ve trusted them in that small way, suggests to them that you are not trying to deceive anyone and that you can be trusted.

  1. Don’t assume you know what’s best for people

There are always times in life where we feel compelled to give advice to people. Maybe we think the person is making a serious error, or maybe they have come to us for our take on things.

In these situations, there are two ways that you can go about giving advice. 

The first way is to tell someone what they should do.

“You should do this. 

You would be crazy to do that. 

Why would you do what you are doing? 

This doesn’t make any sense.”

The second way is to ask questions and share your perspective, with the understanding that it is limited.

“From what you’ve told me, this approach looks like the best.

Would it be possible for you to make more progress if you did it like this instead?

Is there a reason why you can’t do this?

What do you think is the main reason why this isnt working?”

When you tell people what they shouldn’t do, you are interfering into their business and assuming the role of a judge. 

When you ask open questions and treat your own opinions as one perspective rather than “the right answer”, you are helping people to work their way through their own problems and genuinely supporting someone’s development. 

  1. Pay people genuine compliments

Maybe this sounds like an obvious point, but most compliments have little effect due to their lack of authenticity.

At parties and and during small talk, people will always tell you things like

“You look great!

Have you lost weight?

I like your haircut!”

This is fine for building rapport and breaking the ice, but it doesn’t do a whole lot besides that.

Next time you want to show someone real heartfelt respect, think of something that you genuinely admire about their character. At an appropriate time, share this with them in an authentic way. It can be just the two of you, and it also works great if you do it in front of peers. 

  1. Express gratitude

“The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated”

William James

We all want to feel like our efforts have made a difference to people. When someone goes out of their way to do something for you, To not thank them can really feel like a slap in the face. 

What better way to show respect to people than to satisfy the deepest craving of human desire!

Closing thoughts

So there you have it! I hope that you can take what I have learned about the importance of respect, and use it to find more success and fulfillment in your own life

To learn more about living a fulfilling and worthwhile life, check out the 12 characteristics of a virtuous person

This article goes into detail what makes up a person of real depth.

Everything from patience, to judgment, to letting your actions speak, to keeping your house in order. 

You can check out the full post here. 

For those who like self development books, check out the 5 most transformative books that I have read.

Too cheap for therapy? Read these books!

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