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50 Examples of Social Respect

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Social respect is the degree to which others admire you and demonstrate this admiration with their treatment of you. People strongly desire respect such that it can be viewed as a fundamental type of social need. For example, the pursuit of social status such as wealth, coolness, youth and power is arguably all about respect.

Earning Respect

I'm sick of just liking people. I wish to God I could meet somebody I could respect.
~ J. D. Salinger
If respect is about admiration then in theory you can earn respect by being admirable. But what does this mean? Being admirable is more than being good and following the rules. In fact, it may involve breaking rules, taking risks, engaging in struggle and owning your imperfection. This is why audiences will invariably respect the reluctant hero and likable villain over the smug do-gooder. The following are behaviors that may earn respect.
Dignity - upholding yourself no matter the situation such that you can't be easily put down by others.
Humility - the strength not to have to promote yourself.
Charisma - a magnetic quality whereby people are draw to you.
Charm - making others feel good.
Code of Honor - living up to your principles or those of a society, institution or culture.
Complexity - being difficult to figure out.
Confidence - some element of confidence such as creative, social or intellectual confidence.
Conflicting Traits - conflicting traits can be respectable such as being a charming loner.
Consistency - sustaining your positive traits over time.
Effort - trying hard even if you may fail.
Emotional Depth - a great depth of feeling for things.
Imperfection - flaws that are likable or attractive.
Owning It - owning your failures and flaws such that you don't try to hide them.
Humanity - being a real human being.
Humor - a respected social ability only where you get it right.
Intelligence - a respected social ability if you aren't smug or boring about it.
Morality - demonstrating a strong sense of right and wrong.
Mystery - the strong silent type gets respect as do all truly mysterious characters.
Physicality - a formidable physical presence.
Failure - failing and recovering is a compelling type of human experience that gets respect.
Redemption - righting a wrong.
Showing Respect - holding admirable things in high regard makes you admirable if you're not smug about it.
Resilience - people admire those who overcome adversity.
Accomplishment - doing something with your life.
Competition - the ability to thrive in competition and win much of the time.
Presence - a formidable personal presence such that people notice you.
Facing Fear - doing things that other people fear.
Feats of Strength - doing things others doubt they could do.
Kindness - having a kind side to you whereby you are good people.
Integrity - doing what you think is right.
Bias for Action - doing something even if it's wrong.
Self-respect - taking your life seriously and trying hard to develop.

Loss of Respect

As respect can be earned it can also be lost. It is often argued that it takes a lifetime to build up respect and only a moment to lose it. This is perhaps a productive way to think but in reality we can quickly earn respect and can also recover from its loss. The following are behaviors that may cause an individual to lose respect.
Being Unkind
Being Unreliable
Breaking Promises
Disrespecting Others
Neglecting Personal Hygiene
Passive Aggressiveness
Poor Moral Judgement
Violating Norms and Rules People Value

Showing Respect

As people strongly desire respect they will often demand it such that not showing respect can literally be dangerous. This is such a common phenomenon that societies and cultures put in place a large number of norms that help people to show respect to each other by demonstrating basic courtesies. This is cultural whereby individualistic societies tend to view honesty as respectful and collectivist societies tend to view politeness, even if it's not completely honest, as respectful. This includes a sense of saving face whereby people help others to avoid embarrassment for fear of triggering a sense that they have no respect.


Just as it's possible to show respect it is possible to show disrespect. This can involve direct insults or a lack of courtesy and politeness towards someone. It is also possible to disrespect others by ignoring them, not showing respect where it is expected or strongly criticizing them. Disrespect and perceived disrespect are perhaps the most common source of social conflict.

Seeking Validation

People commonly look for social information to validate their self-worth. This often takes the form of looking for signs that others respect you. Cultures typically call for regular gestures of respect that are designed to continually demonstrate that you still respect someone. For example, the expectation and norm that you greet neighbors every time you see them in some friendly and polite way. Likewise, celebrations of recognition such as birthdays or rites of passage are designed to show respect for others.

Social Status

Social status is the perceived status of a person in a group based on factors such as popularity, power, position, role, wealth, youth, coolness, altruism and intelligence. This is all about respect as people feel that if they achieve some status that others will have to respect them. It doesn't always work out this way. Those pursuing social status want respect but they may be disappointed to find that status such as wealth or position doesn't always bring respect. This can make people with status unhappy if they go around demanding that everyone respect them all the time.

Commodification of Respect

Strangely, modern societies have commodified social status with brands, products and services that are designed to represent different types of status such as wealth, youth, coolness and altruism. As such, you could argue that consumer spending is often driven by a need for respect. This feels like an illusion whereby you can't really buy respect.

Respect vs Likability

Respect means that people admire you. This always stems from your strengths. Likability means that people find you pleasant and enjoy your company. This can stem from strengths but often also stems from weaknesses. These aren't opposites as you can be both respected and liked but it is perhaps important to note the difference. For example, people may view you as childish or foolish but still like you. However, respect would require that people view you as accomplished and capable.


Self-respect is not an admiration for oneself. It is rather a type of dignity whereby you take your life seriously and try to live with integrity and grace. This involves aligning your behavior and thinking to your principles whereby you try to do the things that will make you proud of yourself.

Social Status

This is the complete list of articles we have written about social status.
Achieved Status
Ascribed Status
Creative Class
Economic Opportunity
Low Culture
Needs & Wants
Personal Brand
Personal Branding
Social Acceptance
Social Class
Social Comparison
Social Exclusion
Social Hierarchy
Social Identity
Social Imagination
Social Norms
Social Position
Social Reality
Social Respect
Social Trust
Socioeconomic Factors
Socioeconomic Status
Upper Class
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