Command Respect; Don’t Demand It

Recently, I came across this quote in reference to the Indian courts of law and it really intrigued me. It made me question how we are and how our thoughts form the foundation of our behaviour. One of my teachers had her own (edited) version of a famous saying which went like this “first impressions are the best impressions, and the lasting impressions also.” Long-term contact with someone can indeed reveal many traits that weren’t visible in the initial interactions but these are rarely different from the theme of the initial traits.

I believe that people’s perception of us lies in our hands. Indeed, perceptions are also created without one-to-one interaction and if created this way, they could be far from the real impression you could have created upon talking to the person. This should not bother us. If someone is gullible enough to believe anything they hear without any verification from their end, does such an opinion even matter?

Our focus should be to get the best out of the things that are in our hands. If we meet someone, the person should leave the conversation feeling loved and respected because of our behaviour with them.

Don’t you think it is in our favour if they have heard something about us that’s totally different from the reality? The interaction will bring out the stark difference more clearly and act as a catalyst in changing the person’s mind.

A person could go around ordering people to look up to him or respect him. The audience might comply out of fear but such abstract emotions of inspiration and respect lie in our hearts, not on our faces. One could simply pretend to follow without feeling this way at all.

On the contrary, you can just keep doing the right things, taking one step at a time, being guided by your ethics and morals. Those who come in close contact with you will automatically find you in good light without you making a conscious effort to get them to feel this way. In this way, the image we create for ourselves is our responsibility. Our focus should be to command respect and not demand it. Respect that is demanded barely has any value and is ephemeral.

This is also the primary quality of a leader which gives him an inherent advantage over a boss or other team members. No one likes to be put down. No matter how competent or polished someone is, he would always like to be included and felt heard and it’s not wrong. Someone might not be the best person in a particular field yet have extremely valuable inputs. A leader knows how to bring these valuable qualities to the forefront. When you treat people how they deserve to be treated, you effortlessly imprint a part of you on their hearts.

Look back in your life and try to identify those teachers, friends, relatives (close or distant ones) who commanded your respect. Can you see that their actions were never actively aimed at gaining your respect? Instead, they just happened to make that mark in your mind. They always looked out for you and pushed you towards getting the best things in life. They made you a better person. Their actions surrounded your well-being yet their personality attracted your love for them.

Let’s learn from our mentors and imbibe the habit of making others’ welfare a priority for us. If we focus on respecting others, we won’t have to worry about demanding respect for ourselves – it will come on its own. After all, what goes around, comes around.