Respect must be earned. In this list we will talk about how to get respect and how that helps bring people to your way of thinking.
1. Never tell somebody they are wrong.
Never, and I mean never tell somebody they are wrong. From the moment you tell somebody they are wrong, you lost all hope of ever winning them to your way of thinking or earning their respect. People do not like being told they are wrong, so much so that even if you provided unquestionable proof that they are wrong, they would still deny it. Once you tell somebody that they are wrong, you are attacking their ego and they will get extremely defensive. As Dale Carnegie said in his book How to Win Friends & Influence People, “If you tell them they are wrong, do you make them want to agree with you? Never! For you have stuck a direct blow at their intelligence, judgement, pride and self-respect. That will make them want to strike back. But it will never make them want to change their mind.”
If a person makes a statement that you know is wrong, instead of calling them out, why not say something like, “I thought otherwise, but I have been known to be wrong in the past, why don’t we check on the facts.” Statements such as this do not attack the person directly so they are never in a defensive position, and because of that, they are much more likely to accept the truth. It is possible, if they have a very big ego, they will deny the truth regardless, but for most people this will work.
2. Admit when you are wrong.
By admitting when you are wrong, you put yourself in a great situation.
Firstly, it allows you to quickly get out of a vulnerable situation. When you are wrong, you go into defensive mode. The longer you defend a wrong position, the less likely people will be willing to follow you in the future. They will think you are wrong about most things and will start to doubt everything you say.
Secondly, you make yourself appear — because indeed you are — more humble. Being humble is a desired trait to have; people respect it. When people respect you, they are much more likely to respect your opinions too and thus you are much more likely to win them to your way of thinking.
(Important note: only admit you are wrong when you are wrong. Sometimes people might not agree with your position and you will have to defend it. Being on the defense is not inherently bad; in fact, standing your ground when everybody is against you can earn you some respect and bring people to your way of thinking. You conviction attracts people to you and your way of thinking. All in all, being defensive, in and of itself is not bad, as long as you truly believe your position is right.)
3. Listen actively to what people have to say.
When you genuinely listen to what somebody has to say, this helps you in two ways. Firstly, it makes the other person feel valuable and respected. By being able to express their opinion and knowing that you genuinely care about what they have to say, they respect you more, and, in turn, are more open to what you have to say and your opinion. Secondly, it provides you with insights that you may not have known and it provides you with the ability to make a better, more informed decision. Let’s use an example to show exactly how this works. Imagine two scenarios: first is a boss that yells commands at his workers and ignore everything they say; second is a boss that has regular meetings with his workers to talk about their work. Out of these two bosses, which one do you think has more productive workers? Which one knows the needs of his workers best? Most importantly, which one has a greater ability to persuade his workers to do something he needs done?
4. Lead people to your way of thinking.
This is a hard one to master, but it is very powerful. People are much more likely to favor your idea if they feel that it is originally theirs or they had some part in its formation. We trust ourselves more than any other person on the planet, so let the person convince themselves of your idea. The key to accomplishing this is to get people involved in forming the idea.
An example would probably help: if you were the manager of a sale team that was underperforming, you could demand that they smile when selling, keep eye contact, etc. However, no matter how good these ideas are, it is unlikely you will see great improvement. That is because the sales team had no involvement in the ideas, so they had no interest in implementing these ideas. Instead, you could hold a meeting and ask all of your sales people what they think would increase sales. As they start suggestion ideas, they will consider the ideas theirs. Once that happens, they will implement these ideas with pride because they came up with them.
5. Be an expert and be decisive.
You can use the above steps to get people to your way of thinking but only if you are knowledgeable about what you are saying. If you are in a leadership position, but always make the wrong choices, never seem sure of yourself, and are indecisive nobody will ever respect your judgment; if they do not respect what you are saying they will not follow what you are saying. So, educate yourself and become a master in your field, then people will naturally follow you.
This article was heavily inspired by the book How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This is a classic book on being persuasive and managing people. The book has much more to offer and if you found this article interesting and if you want to learn more, I highly suggest this book.
Have an questions or comments? Meet me in the comment section to discuss further!