12 behaviors that immediately make people respect you when you first meet them

First impressions count.

We’ve all heard it before, right?

Whether you’re walking into a job interview, on a first date, or meeting the inlaws, those first few minutes are super important.

In fact, studies show people can form impressions of our character, trustworthiness, and competence in less than a second!

So, how do you get off on the right foot?

Check out these 12 clever behaviors that can help you earn respect from others (when you first meet).

1) Firm handshakes

A handshake (or fist bump) is often the first interaction you have with someone new.

Make it count!

Remember, it’s not so much about the handshake itself, but more about what it represents.

In a word, confidence.

By asserting yourself and leading the greeting, you’re showing that you’re comfortable taking charge. Which in turn, commands respect.

So, decide on a greeting and commit to it.

Because if you offer up a limp handshake, or hesitate between fist-bumping and high-fiving (we’ve all been there), you’ll create an awkward situation right off the bat.

2) Stick to your guns

Another behavior that is incredibly effective at commanding respect, is having conviction.

Say what you think and follow through on your beliefs.

This can be expressed in the decisions you make and the actions you take. But remember, always maintain a respectful tone and try to acknowledge alternative perspectives.

For example, let’s say you arrange to meet a friend at a coffee shop. 

Now, you know this coffee shop is the best in town (they do incredible homemade muffins) but when you meet your friend they suggest an alternative (inferior) place.

It might not seem like a big deal, but if you firmly believe in your decision you should show conviction and push your idea forward.

Your friend will thank you later (and respect your assertive decision-making) once they try those delicious muffins!

But be careful.

Don’t cross the line into narrow-minded stubbornness! 

Conviction only applies when you’re absolutely sure about something (i.e. you have the objective data or experience to back it up).

3) Hold your hands up (when you’re wrong)

What happens when those amazing muffins you recommended aren’t so great?

Don’t sweat it.

We’re all human and mistakes are inevitable.

The important thing here (and the trick to earning respect) is admitting fault.

So always own your mistakes. It takes a certain level of confidence to do so.

Here’s the thing.

When the sh*t hits the fan, most people instinctively try to avoid taking responsibility. 55% of people think they’ll lose respect if they admit to making a mistake.

This is usually because they have deep-rooted insecurities. By shirking blame, they’re trying to protect themselves.

When actually, people would respect you more if you just accepted the fact you messed up, learned from it, and moved on.

This is especially true for those of you in leadership positions.

4) Be yourself

Most people can spot BS a mile off.

And there’s nothing that will kill your respect more than being inauthentic or fake.

I’m talking about everything from blowing your own trumpet with exaggerated embellished tales to straight-up lying.

Putting on a fake persona in an attempt to fit in is also a big no-no. This is playground behavior that you should have grown out of by now.

Instead, be true to yourself.

Authenticity fosters trust and people are much more likely to respect someone who is being themselves.

When you first meet someone, don’t be afraid of expressing your opinions and saying what you really think (within reason). The risk of offending someone is a small price to pay for the respect you’ll earn by being an open book.

5) Actions speak louder than words

So you can talk the talk.

But can you walk the walk?

Because it’s true what they say, actions really do speak louder than words (and earn you a ton of respect in the process).

One of the first things you can do is turn up on time.

Rather than saying “I’m an extremely punctual person.” you’ve just demonstrated it.

Other actions that make a great first impression include getting the bill, driving someone home, or even giving someone a small gift.

Small acts of kindness like this are incredibly effective when you first meet someone. I promise they won’t forget you in a hurry.

subtle ways people reject themselves before others get the chance 12 behaviors that immediately make people respect you when you first meet them

6) Make them laugh

Being a funny guy or gal has a whole heap of benefits.

It not only makes you more attractive to the opposite sex but also (you’ve guessed it) earns you plenty of respect.

Here’s the science.

When we laugh, our brain produces endorphins. These feel-good chemicals relieve pain and reduce stress. We therefore associate funny people with improved well-being (and want to spend more time around them).

Humor also makes us feel at ease and comfortable.

It’s no wonder that professional speakers sprinkle bucketloads of jokes throughout their presentations.

If you can make someone laugh within the first few minutes of meeting them, even better!

This is what ice-breakers are for.

7) Look on the bright side of life (but be realistic)

Positivity goes a long way in gaining respect.

But don’t overdo it.

I don’t mean fake smiling and kumbaya talk, more like genuine optimism and open-mindedness.

It does a couple of powerful things.

First of all, positivity improves your resilience, helps you deal with stress and adversity, boosts your motivation, and even helps you make better decisions.

Secondly (and most importantly), it’s contagious! So your positive outlook will rub off on those you meet (and they’ll respect you for it).

8) Use positive body language

Speaking of positivity, don’t forget non-verbal communication (also known as body language).

It’s a key part of gaining confidence and respect from others.

And is especially important for making a good first impression.

I’m talking about making positive facial expressions, maintaining eye contact, and even sitting (or standing) with an upright posture.

If someone else is talking, you should be giving off a strong vibe that you’re actively listening. So nodding and smiling as they deliver their points.

If you’re talking, don’t remain static. Use appropriate hand gestures to help get your message across.

This leads to our next point.

9) Articulate (and communicate effectively)

Let me ask you a question.

Who are you more likely to listen to (and respect)?

Someone who mumbles quietly and waffles on while staring down towards the floor, or someone who speaks loudly, makes succinct points and engages in eye contact.


If you want to command respect, you need to be an effective communicator.

This also means not interrupting others, being mindful of your tone, and carefully choosing your language.

10) Be present (in the moment)

One slamdunk way to immediately make someone respect you, is to give them your undivided attention.

So put down your phone, stop thinking about what you’re having for dinner tonight, and live in the moment.

Your focus will put them at ease and make them feel special.

Put it this way.

If someone was trying to convey something important to you, but you were looking over their shoulder, watching sport on TV, it would have the complete opposite effect. 

They’d become frustrated, or even angry, and lose all respect for you.

11) Always choose humility

Have you ever been at a party and had to listen to someone go on for hours about how amazing they are?

Usually, after they’ve had a drink (or five).

And whatever you’ve done, they’ve already got the t-shirt (and probably gone one step further).

Well, the opposite of pride is humility.

In other words, remaining humble and modest.

Here’s the thing.

Humility is about being compassionate and demonstrating empathy towards others.

Which in turn helps you earn their respect.

So, always stay grounded and remember that in the grand scheme of things, you’re not really that important. It’ll help you connect with others and build meaningful relationships.

12) Give THEM respect

Finally (and to sum everything up nicely), the biggest secret to making people respect you, is to give them respect first.

Because, when you think about it…

At the end of the day, deep down, it’s what we all want.

To be appreciated, liked, and respected.

The previous 11 points all encapsulate this simple concept. 

But there’s one more important thing you have to understand.

You can’t just wave a magic wand and instantly get respect from others. The best relationships, strongest bonds, and the greatest level of respect takes time.

Sure, we can do our best to make the perfect first impression.

But to truly gain deep-rooted respect you’ll need weeks, months, or even years.

It’s not really something you can rush either. In fact, the harder you try the more your efforts will come across as disingenuous.

Taken from the bible, here’s a perfect quote to end on:

“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”

(In other words, treat others how you’d like to be treated yourself).

Picture of Leila El-Dean

Leila El-Dean

Leila is a passionate writer with a background in photography and art. She has over ten years of experience in branding, marketing, and building websites. She loves travelling and has lived in several countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, Spain, and Malta. When she’s not writing (or ogling cats), Leila loves trying new food and drinking copious amounts of Earl Grey tea.

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