It is much harder for someone to earn my respect than my like. I like just about everybody, but I definitely don't respect everybody. My respect is reserved for people who I feel are above me in terms of their character or their accomplishments. Liking people is about enjoying their company, respecting someone is about wanting to be like them. The two don't go hand in hand. I like some people I don't respect, and I respect some I don't particularly like.
(Quick disclaimer: This is not referring to the basic respect I should give people on the basis that they are human, or treating people with dignity and respect as a general rule. That's not what I mean. This is the kind of situation where I would think of someone and say, "I have a lot of respect for them.")
What makes me respect someone? These are a few qualities that will always earn my respect:
- The willingness to admit when you are wrong. This is a biggie for me, and I respect it in others even more because I have trouble with this myself. Someone who can admit when they're wrong (and, further, someone who's even willing to consider they might be wrong even if they're not sure), is someone I have a lot of respect for.
- Thoughtfulness. Going out of your way to make others feel welcome, safe, and loved is a huge plus.
- Genuine listening. If I can have a conversation with someone and feel like they are actually listening to me and trying to understand me, it doesn't matter if we agree or disagree at the end, I will respect them.
- A willingness to think well of others. This doesn't mean being stupid or oblivious if someone's being a genuinely awful person, but I have great respect for people who think well of the people around them until proven otherwise. (It was one of the things that first drew me to my fiance.)
Really, these all connect for me. I think, really, most of them have a common thread: humility. A person who is humble can admit when they are wrong, and graciously puts others ahead of themselves, and considers other people's thoughts and opinions as important as their own, and doesn't jump to assumptions that others are bad people.
Those are the people I emulate. They are the people I try to learn from. They are the people I respect. I can only hope that some day I will be able to be like them.
What qualities make you respect people the most?