In my post about commanding respect vs. demanding respect, I told you all that I would give some more practical tips and advice about how to command respect, and I didn’t. I’m sorry. It is time to remedy that situation by popular demand.
As I said in the original post, expect what you project. What I’ve found in my dealings with the opposite sex especially, I have found that you have to teach people how to treat you. When you try to “stand toe to toe” with a man, demanding respect and to be treated equally, he begins to see you as a man. Men compete with other men. They are aggressive with other men. They don’t always consider another man’s feelings. They get into fights with other men. I don’t want men to treat me how they treat other men; I want to be treated like a woman. So the very first “tip” that I would give any woman is to de-masculinize yourself to a man.
How do you de-masculinize yourself? By changing your speech, appearance and body language. Some of the women that I admire for the way they command respect get more done with a raised eyebrow than most women get done with shoulder pads and page boys. Don’t raise your voice, screech, roll your neck, point in his face, get in his face, make angry gestures with your hands, or otherwise show you aren’t in control of your emotions; you look like a toddler having a temper tantrum, and it causes men to treat you like a kid. It lowers you to the level of a child in the eyes of your child when you respond how they would. Model the behavior that you want to see from the individual. I do the following:
Speak in a clear, well-modulated voice.
Stick as close to logic as possible in a disagreement. Men are logical and feel they have a frame of reference to respond to a logical argument. You can mention your feelings in a logical cause and effect way and get them to understand it if you have to explain. Explanation is your friend, especially initially. (Remember, you are teaching.)
Don’t be afraid to use the gift of touch in personal communication. A gentle hand on the arm, pat on the hand, a firm hand at the back of a child going in the wrong direction–we women have the gift of conveying a lot in a touch. Use it.
Know when to shut up. So many people would benefit from knowing when to shut up. The louder and more emotional someone gets, the softer you should talk. If it is clear that communication is no longer taking place, stop talking. If it is clear someone is agitated or preoccupied and will not be able to engage productively in a conversation you want to have, don’t broach it until they are in a better space. If you have to debate about something, ask yourself if it is worth it to debate.
Stick as close as possible to positive statements. Tell someone what you would like for them to do, not what you don’t like that they do. Express appreciation when someone does what you had asked them to do. Don’t bring attention to petty annoyances whenever possible.
When it comes to teaching someone how to treat you with respect, imagine yourself as a kindergarten teacher. Everything you need to know, you really did learn in kindergarten.
It also doesn’t help to dress too masculine or too sexually; both detract from your femininity and give men the wrong signal, especially when worn in the wrong arenas. A sexy outfit at work makes people take you less seriously. It makes you look like you may have gotten your job for something other than your ability to manage people or collate copies, it makes the other women uncomfortable, and male coworkers may avoid direct interaction with you to avoid the possibility of a sexual harassment suit. Conversely, looking like you are at the helm of a hostile business takeover makes you look like you are ready to play hardball with the big boys–not a look you want at home. I’m not a fashion maven, but I would suggest the following:
Break up a solid color or striped business suit with a fun colored top with a feminine cut. I prefer soft colors and avoid bull’s-eye red. I like cream, mauve, powder blue, that sort of thing. I also prefer a more feminine cut to dress pants or slacks, not hugging or hiding curves. Business suits have come a long way.
Every woman should have these three outfits: cute jeans and a dressy top that can be dressed up with heels for a night out; a little black dress, and some formal “church” attire.
Avoid severe hairstyles where possible, and leave wisps of hair to frame the face or don’t pin/pull hair as tight to give it a more feminine look.
I always accentuate my eyes. You may have a more feminine mouth or pretty cheekbones. Accentuate the positive.
The major take away here is to look like a woman. The bulk of the work of commanding respect is done by setting expectations, modeling respectful behavior, and refusing to engage in disrespectful behavior. It’s about picking your battles.
Does anyone have any other tips on commanding respect?