Have you ever noticed how some people seem to command a room without uttering a single word?
I don’t know about you, but it’s always been fascinating to me. It’s as if they have an invisible aura that demands respect.
Not so long ago, it seemed elusive, but through reading, mentors, and experience, I’ve realized it’s a skill everyone can learn.
With this in mind, today, we dive into seven powerful ways we can all command respect without uttering a word.
How many of these are you already using?
Let’s find out.
1) Stand up straight
Let’s start with the obvious: we need to be mindful of our posture.
When was the last time you saw someone of influence, a mentor, or a leader that you respect slouching?
I can’t recall a single time. I’d be willing to bet you can’t either.
Good posture is something almost all respected people have.
Standing tall with our shoulders back projects confidence to those around us. Not only that, but it can help us feel more self-assured, which enables us to make a better impression when we do speak.
Don’t just take my word for it, though. The importance of good posture is also widely acknowledged by authors and studies.
Psychologist Jordan Peterson’s very first rule in his bestseller 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos is as follows:
“Stand up straight with your shoulders back.”
So, as cliche as it sounds, chin up, chest out, shoulders back.
2) Make eye contact (but not too much)
Think about a time when you met someone, and they completely avoided eye contact with you. How did that feel?
Not so good, right? You probably weren’t filled with respect for them. More than that, you might have wanted to move on to talking to someone else.
Making deliberate eye contact communicates assuredness in yourself and interest in those around you. This simple act makes people feel valued and more willing to respect you in return.
What’s more, research has shown that eye contact can even make us more resistant to persuasion.
This silent yet powerful gesture can transform interactions, commanding respect and presence without saying a single word,
But of course, don’t take it too far; there’s a big difference between natural, confident eye contact and weird, uninterrupted staring.
3) Give a firm handshake
Think for a moment…would you place your faith in someone whose palm slides limply out of your grasp?
Of course not.
A strong grip accompanied by good eye contact and a friendly smile demonstrates assertiveness and confidence.
You already knew this.
I’ve known it for a long time, too. My father constantly told me this when I was in my early teens. I viewed it with youthful skepticism, but, like parents often are, he was right.
Anyway, the point is that in every walk of life, from informal catchups with friends to boardrooms, a firm handshake sets the tone for the interaction. It’s a non-verbal cue that can have a drastic effect on how people perceive us.
This is also backed up by science; a study at Ohio Wesleyan University found that firm handshakes correlate with perceptions of extroversion and confidence, whereas weak handshakes relate to insecurity and shyness. Which do you think gets us more respect?
Don’t go right out and start crushing hands, though. The strength of your grip should convey assurance but not aggression, striking a balance that respects the other person’s space and dignity.
This next one is something that people seem to be rebelling against these days, possibly to their own detriment. Are you one of those people?
4) Dress for the occasion
We’ve all heard, “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”
Yeah, it’s a bit tired, but there’s truth to it – our image does influence assumptions about our competence and professionalism.
If I showed up to a formal boardroom meeting wearing flip-flops and shorts, how much respect do you think I’d get?
Now, that’s an extreme example, I know. But whether we want to admit it or not, people doubt our competence if we don’t dress appropriately.
Wearing well-fitting, clean, and environment-appropriate clothes, however, shows that we respect ourselves and the people around us.
Adding to how others perceive us, studies have shown that what we wear impacts our own psychological processes, like self-image and confidence, which can influence how we hold ourselves.
“But what about all the respected tech rebels breaking down dress code barriers?” You might ask.
Is your name Mark Zuckerberg?
No? Mine either. Sticking to accepted norms will serve us better.
If that means a suit, it means a suit. If it means business casual, it means business casual. Take cues from respected people around you.
Of course, if the accepted norm is a pair of levis and a tee, go ahead and do that, but do it well. Launder those jeans, iron that tee, and put your best trainer-clad foot forward. You’ll appear more authoritative and competent, and you might also feel more self-assured.
5) Be on time
This is a simple one.
If you don’t respect others’ most valuable asset (time), why would they respect you?
In a world where time is the scarcest commodity, being punctual is more than just a measure of timekeeping; it’s a non-verbal commitment to reliability and respect.
It shows that you value and manage your commitments seriously, an attribute admired in almost all personal and professional spheres.
Just be on time. Period.
6) Leave your phone in your pocket
Let’s face it: screens have become addictive for most of us. When we hear that familiar ping, it takes serious willpower not to tear our attention away from others to check it.
However, constantly glancing at our devices signals distractedness and a lack of control. These are hardly characteristics to be respected.
Worse yet, looking at a phone when engaged with others is a clear-cut sign that we don’t respect the people we are talking to. This is so common nowadays that we have the term “Phubbing” (phone snubbing).
Next time you’re mid-conversation, resist the urge to check your phone no matter how persistently it pings for attention. Instead, focus on listening fully and making thoughtful eye contact.
Avoiding distraction demonstrates respect for those interacting with you. There’s no surer path to reciprocal appreciation.
7) Take care of your grooming
Okay, picture someone successful, someone widely respected – take a minute to really visualize the details of their appearance.
Are they sporting dirty fingernails or an overgrown haircut? Doubtful.
A well-styled haircut, facial hair that’s neatly kept, and overall personal hygiene are not just superficial traits; they communicate respect for oneself and others.
Reflect on your grooming routine: Does it enhance your professional and personal image and help form positive impressions?
It should. If it doesn’t, it might be time to upgrade your grooming habits.
Be careful not to go overboard, though; excessive makeup or hair gel is not the way forward. It’s about being presentable and put together in a manner appropriate for your environment.
The bottom line
Actions often speak louder than words.
From the power of a firm handshake to the understated influence of a well-groomed appearance, these silent cues are essential in commanding respect.
As you have probably gathered, it often simply comes down to showing respect for ourselves and those around us.
I hope you found this post useful and that it has given you some food for thought.
Until next time.