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In 1978, Rodney Dangerfield burst onto the comedy scene claiming he “got no respect.” That theme earned him millions of laughs, and millions of dollars. The reason is the theme resonated with his audience, many of whom also got no respect. No respect from their employer, family members, or customers. Rodney was their champion, their anti-hero.
How respected are you?
How respectful are you?
How well do you believe you command the respect of others?
Respect is not defined in a dictionary. It’s intangible. It’s a feeling. And it’s an earned position. Contrary to popular belief, bosses do not command respect; they earn respect. And bosses who do not earn the respect of their people, have a high employee turnover rate and wonder why.
Respect is earned by words, and by actions. Things like keeping your promises or proactively providing service. Things like becoming more personally involved with the success of your customer, or taking responsibility when responsibility is not really yours.
It’s the extra effort. It’s the extra mile. It’s the extra measure of sincere effort that you put into your dialogue or your process. Others can sense that you care about them, and will respect that effort. Very few people will actually say, “I respect you.” Rather, they will do things that prove their respect without ever having to say the word. Things like placing an order, placing a second order, or giving you a referral. Even things like taking your phone call, or returning your phone call, show respect.
One of the keys to respect is the word personal. How personal are you in your actions? How personal are you in your communication? The more personal you are with others, the more respect you will earn.
But there is a secret to respect. If you master this secret you will be able to create respectful atmospheres in any environment you encounter. The secret is: In order to earn the respect of others, you must first respect yourself.
This means you have to have confidence in yourself. You have to like what you do. You have to be willing to serve. You have to like yourself. And you have to love yourself. Like and love are two separate issues. You may like yourself for how you look, or how you sell, or how you communicate, but you love yourself for who you are, what you believe in, and what or who you seek to become.
Loving yourself gives you the ultimate opportunity to respect yourself. I’m not saying that you have to be a goody two-shoes, I’m certainly not, and I have a TON of respect for myself. What it means is doing the right things for yourself, taking the right actions for yourself, and loving yourself enough that its evident when you enter a room, evident that your expressions come as much from your heart as they do from your mind, and the same with your actions.
I challenge you to spend one day in retrospect. Take a flip chart and begin to document all the good things that you’ve done for yourself, and all the good things that you’ve done for others. Be real enough with yourself to admit what you like about yourself, and what you love about yourself.
Then document what you need to change about yourself that will make you better and stronger. Maybe your self-respect suffers from the way you see yourself in the mirror, or some of the personal choices that you make. Maybe it’s your environment. But whatever it is, if you don’t acknowledge it, you will never be able to change it or enhance it. You’ll never be able to grow in earning respect from others until you grow in respecting yourself.
One of the most interesting parts of respect is there’s no measuring tool, there’s no “How much do you respect me?” Respect begins with an opportunity, and ends with reality. You can only get it by earning it, and it can only grow slowly over time.
The secret is easy. Do the right thing all the time and respect will be yours. Say the right words, take the right actions, and believe in your heart that you’re doing the best you can do — for yourself first, and for others second.
Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Little Red Book of Selling and The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on sales and customer service at He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to

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