10 Ways to Show Respect: Master the Art of Conversation

This post was modified from the original published on the Harvest Performance blog.


Think of someone that you are uncomfortable talking to (could be your co-worker, child, employee, or spouse).

  • Why are they so difficult to talk to?
  • Do you feel defensive?
  • Do they feel listened to?
  • Do you avoid this person?

These are signs that the relationship is lacking trust and respect.

One way to help you have successful, meaningful conversations and relationships is to show respect.

If you would know strength and patience, welcome the company of trees.  ~Hal Borland

When we plant a tree, do we expect it to grow overnight? The same is true for building trust and respect in relationships. Through the ups and downs and over time, trust will grow.

Now, think about someone you trust.

  • How does this person make you feel?
  • Do you look forward to talking to this person?
  • Do great things happen when you are together?

Next time you have a conversation with your trusted friend, observe them. Which of the actions below do they practice?

As a leader, how many of these do you use successfully?

  1. Listen, really listen without interrupting.
  2. Make eye contact (not piercing eye contact… make sure it’s comfortable for the other person).
  3. Validate what was said by repeating back in your own words.
  4. Focus on what is being said: Don’t think of what you will say next.
  5. If you need to take notes, ask for permission (if I want to take notes to remember what you said, would that make you feel respected?)
  6. Find an item that you agree with and tell them you agree with them.
  7. When you don’t agree, ask questions to help clarify or validate your intuition.
  8. Show interest in what is being said (nod, make eye contact, smile, ask questions).
  9. Present your point of view as “another way of looking at things”.
  10. Ask their opinion.

These 10 tips for showing respect can be effective both in your personal and professional life. The key is to practice. Which ones will you try today? What other actions show respect during a conversation?

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