What to Do When People Don’t Respect You

WhatToGetMy Instructional Article

  • Wanting to be respected is a normal and natural human feeling and there is nothing wrong with you wanting to be respected.
  • When people disrespect you, it is either because they are the problem or you are the problem.
  • Read on to find out what you should do when they are the problem and what you should do when you are the problem.
  • In the final analysis, you cannot force people to respect you. You cannot demand respect. You can only earn respect. And if they are not willing to give it even after you do all that is in this article, walk away from them.
  • And remember, never let other people’s disrespectfulness change you and make you disrespectful too. A person’s level of maturity must never dictate your level of maturity.

Why don’t people respect me?” “How can I gain respect from people?” If these questions and more are plaguing you, you have come to the right place. By the time you finish reading this article, you will be equipped with knowing what to do when people don’t respect you.


Everyone wants to be respected and feel respected. It’s a natural human want because it is inbuilt into our DNA. And so, your wanting to find a solution to being disrespected by people is natural and normal. 

If you’re feeling disrespected, chances are that you are being disrespected. But don’t worry too much, it’s not just you that feels that way. Rudeness in American seems to have become a deep-rooted problem in recent times, with an increasing number of Americans complaining about the level of rudeness in present-day America. Two studies, almost 10 years apart (one in 2009, and the other in 2016) consistently affirmed the increasing level of rudeness in American culture.

Rudeness in America (2009) Source: Today.com

Rudeness in America (2009)

Compared to 20 or 30 years ago, do you think people are more rude, less rude, or about the same? (U.S. 2016) Source: Statista

Compared to 20 or 30 years ago, do you think people are more rude, less rude, or about the same (U.S. 2016)

Standards of what constitutes rude and unacceptable behavior versus what constitutes acceptable behavior also show what is largely considered inappropriate and rude in American culture, at least as of 2016. Although those standards have not changed much four years on.

Do you think the following behavior is generally acceptable, unacceptable or neither? (U.S. 2016) Source: Statista

Do you think the following behavior is generally acceptable, unacceptable or neither (U.S. 2016)

And what these stats show and confirm is that as human beings (in this case Americans), we value respect and would consider anything that attacks our dignity and self-worth as rude and disrespectful. And this is natural and important because, by being a human being, your dignity and self-worth must be respected by all and sundry.

This basic, natural and inbuilt need for respect notwithstanding, respect is on the decline and disrespect on the rise. Why does this happen to be the case? Why do people disrespect other people? And specifically to your question, “why do people disrespect me?” Let’s answer that question first because knowing the “why” would help in finding the answer to the “how” and specifically how to make people respect you.


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There are several reasons why people disrespect other people. Here are the chief 2 reasons why people may be disrespecting you:

1. The problem isn’t with you but with them.

This one is the main reason and chief culprit for people’s general rudeness. Most often people are rude and disrespectful because of several reasons very peculiar to them. In this category, you have the people who no matter how much you do for them, or how kind and respectful you are to them, they either don’t appreciate it or they just outrightly always disrespect you.

Sometimes it could be that they don’t know better or they are going through some personal issues and you caught them on a bad day. Sometimes it could just be the other person deliberately choosing downright to be a jerk just because they can, and want to assert some form of dominance. And even that desire to want to be a jerk and assert some form of dominance is a symptom of a much deeper personal issue that the person is dealing with or failing to deal with.

Whatever the case, understand that their being rude has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them. And sometimes how you see or know this is by the following displays:

  • They snap at you for no reason even when you’ve done nothing to provoke an outburst;
  • They may blow an issue out of proportion;
  • Even when the issue at hand is of their doing, they find a way to still point you out as the bad guy;
  • They somehow manage to make the issue to be about something that it is not.

The above list isn’t exhaustive but just to give a few examples of when it could very well be that you are dealing with someone’s rudeness because of an issue peculiar to them.

2. You may be the problem.

This is the other chief reason why people may disrespect you. It may be that you are the one doing the disrespecting. And when this is the case, you can be sure that people will respond in kind and return the disrespect. It is said that respect is reciprocal. And this means that you have to give respect to get respect. The law of reciprocity is an all-encompassing natural law in human relations. You only get out what you give, and the same also applies when it comes to respecting. The unspoken rule when it comes to respecting is thus – “respect me and I will respect you”  and humans are very adept at enforcing this unspoken rule.

Now, while standards of respect are relative and subjective, the following conduct seems universally acceptable as rude and disrespectful, especially when you are interacting with other people:

  • Being dismissive of people and what they have to say.

If in a conversation you tend to cut people off just to get your point across, or you continue the conversation as though they said nothing, you won’t have respect for too long.

  • Making everything about you.

If you are always making every conversation and interaction about you, people will start to see you as a self-centered and self-absorbed person, and before long they’ll stop giving you respect.

  • Butting into every conversation. 

Not every conversation needs your input or needs you to say something. If you’re always getting into conversations that have nothing to do with you, people may start to look down on you and disrespect you.

  • Not listening to people when they talk. 

Even if you feign interest in a conversation and act as though you are listening, people can tell when you’re faking it. And no one likes not being listened to. If you gain a reputation for not listening to people, you can rest assured that your respect will diminish even as your reputation for not being a good listener rises.

  • Putting people down. 

If you’re that person that is always putting others down, you won’t keep people’s respect for too long.

And so, you need to thoroughly introspect and be sure that you are not being rude and disrespectful to people because if you are, then you should not be surprised at being disrespected.

The other side of the coin on this aspect could be that there is a deep-rooted personal problem that you are dealing with, and which is making you feel like you are being disrespected or taken for granted. It could very well be that what the person said or did acted as a trigger for a past wound that was long buried and which you thought you’d forgotten about. Maybe the person saying a word to you or speaking in a particular tone triggered what you felt from a bad experience in the past. And where this is the case, you should seek help because then it would continue to affect you in other areas and would affect your ability to have successful interpersonal social interactions with others. And good social interactions are very necessary for day-to-day living.


Now that we know why people disrespect you (and others), let us find solutions of what to do when people don’t respect you. Before we do so, this brutal truth needs to be said. And this brutal truth is that you cannot force people to respect you. When all is said and done, and even after you follow all the steps in this article, ultimately it is for the person to decide whether or not to respect you or continue disrespecting you. And the reality is that they will be within their right to make that choice. 

Now we are not saying this to excuse people choosing to continue to hurt others by being disrespectful. But just to prepare you for the worst and to let you know that following these steps would be helpful but they are by no means magic potions. And to also make you know in advance not to take anything to heart whatever happens.

The bitter truth notwithstanding, taking these steps will, all things being equal, make people respect you.

What To Do When The Problem Isn’t With You.

When the problem is with the other person, the following steps are important –

a. First, determine who this person is to you. 

And there are two reasons why you do this. The first is so that you know whether you can do anything about it. So for example, say the person is your boss at work and you feel he’s not respecting you. Chances are that because he is the boss, there isn’t much you can do about it unless you don’t mind taking the bulls by the horn and being out of a job as a result.

The second reason why you should determine who the person is to you is so that you know how to approach them and the problem. For example, if this is someone you don’t have much of a close relationship with, it could just be a matter of removing yourself from their space and vice versa.

b. Talk to them.

This would depend on the nature of your relationship with them and how close you are to them. If this is someone you have a close relationship with and value your relationship with them, sit down with them, and have a heartfelt talk with them. Explain to them how you feel about their disrespectful actions towards you. Explain to them how they hurt you and your desire that they stop their hurtful action.

They may not know that they are hurting you and the conversation would help in smoothing things out. We give additional tips on how to go about the conversation in our earlier article on What to do when someone won’t apologize. Be sure to read it; it offers very useful additional insights. In having the conversation, be sure not to be on the offensive because if you go on the offensive, they will become defensive and you may both leave the conversation unhappy.

c. Keep your distance from them.

If your relationship with them is such that you cannot have the conversation with them for whatever reason, then consider keeping your distance with them and limiting your interaction with them. And you are not doing this because you’re being a snub. You are doing it to protect yourself from constantly being hurt by their disrespectful actions.

d. Also, keep your distance if after you’ve had the conversation they persist with their disrespectful action.

The only difference between keeping distance here and the keeping distance we earlier spoke of is this. You should make it clear to this person that given their refusal to change, you will have to reconsider your continued interaction with them and would keep it to a minimum. And that you are doing this for your own mental and emotional sanity and peace of mind. If you are having a hard time keeping a distance, read our article on When You Should Give Up on A Relationship to understand more, why it is in your best interest to keep a distance.

e. Let it go.

Once you’ve done all of the above, just let the issue go. Remember that this has nothing to do with you. You are not the problem, the other person is. And so walk away and let the issue go. Nothing is worth your peace of mind, and a disrespect however great is no different.

What To Do When The Problem Is With You.

When you are the problem then the solution seems simple. You need to work on yourself and change whatever disrespectful attitude you have towards people. You can do so by trying the following:

a. Be more considerate of other people.

Always think of other people and their interests first before taking any action towards them. It would help you in the manner in which you approach them. When people get the sense that you care about their feelings and are considerate of it, they will just naturally gravitate towards respecting you.

b. Apologize when you are in the wrong.

It takes a mature person to apologize when they are wrong because it is not a natural human trait. And people who swallow their pride and apologize when they are wrong always get respect. And so for that person you feel is disrespecting you, if you have hurt them it would be prudent to first apologize to them. You will be surprised how your apology will soften them and smoothen things between both of you.

c. Exercise discretion.

This principle is important in all human dealings. We know when we should approach people and when may not be a good time. We know instinctively sometimes when we ought to exercise restraint. In your interactions exercise discretion and restraint in how you approach people and come into their space. Don’t be too invasive. 

(If the person you are annoying is your girlfriend, be sure to read our article on How To Stop Being Annoying to Your Girlfriend for more pointed ways of how to stop annoying your girlfriend and making her disrespect you)

d. Treat everyone with respect.

This may seem obvious but isn’t. Treat people with respect in the way you address them, in the way you approach them and in the way you treat them. It is only by giving them their respect that you will receive respect from them.

Other Ways To Handle People Being Disrespectful To You and What You Should Not Do.

In addition to the above steps, there are other things we can do to just generally be respected and arouse people’s respect and admiration even without asking for it. Here are other things to do and not do:

1. Be proactive in establishing a rapport.

Sometimes we want people to give us respect but we act aloof and keep our distance from them. That distance is exactly what creates any tension we perceive. As human beings, we are social animals. And this means we respond to the friendliness and friendly gestures and overtures.

Why not bridge that gap and cross over to the other side and say a friendly hello or just be nice. Warmth and kindness are very disarming. And even if they don’t want to respect you, they cannot maintain hostility towards you. And when you slowly build rapport and show people that you can interact with them, they on their own will respect you.

2. Be kind to them.

That person especially who makes it a point to be rude and disrespectful to you, go out of your way to do something kind for them. Go out of your way to say something nice to them. And if they say something unkind, respond with the kindest answer. Your acting the exact opposite will completely throw them off and you know why? He/she was expecting you to respond to them in kind. Doing the exact opposite of what is expected always throws the other side off, and it is no less when you practice kindness especially when not expected.

3. Don’t demand respect.

When you demand respect is in fact when people will make it a point to start being disrespectful because for some reason as human beings we just enjoy doing the exact opposite of what we are told not to do. And the other reason why demanding respect is a no-no is because demanding respect is to an extent disrespectful in and of itself. Respect is earned and not demanded. If you act in a manner deserving of respect you will get it.

4. Never stop respecting others.

Finally, no matter what happens, never let people’s disrespectful approach and conduct make you someone you’re not. People’s immaturities must never water down our maturity and make us people we are not. Always be the bigger person no matter what. Always accord people respect even if they choose to be otherwise. An eye for an eye they say would make the world go blind.

The law of reciprocity doesn’t always solve problems, and in the particular area of respect it won’t, and here’s why. Respect is not an absolute principle. It is very relative and subjective. As a result of this relativity, we cannot apply reciprocity because the other side may have valid reasons for taking the position they did. And the only way to know that is by taking the neutral approach and maintaining our respectfulness.


What you now need to do from here is the following:

  • Make a list of everything you have found disrespectful. Note down why you found it disrespectful. Ask yourself whether or not you may not be overreacting. 
  • Then in that list, honestly assess which of the underlying causes is attributable to you, and which is attributable to the other person.
  • For those attributable to you, take the steps outlined above, and for those attributable to the other person, take the steps highlighted above. And then practice the additional steps we also outlined above.
  • And finally, be sure that the reason why you are taking offense isn’t more a deep-seated personal problem that you have to deal with, rather than meaning that you are being disrespected. If it is a deep-rooted problem, then deal with it early on before it jeopardizes your continued interpersonal and social relationships.


Always remember though that standards of respect are very relative and subjective. What you may consider rude, offensive, and disrespectful, may not seem so with the other person. And it’s always important to bear this in mind when choosing to take offense at something someone may have done to you that you considered disrespectful.

This is not to at all excuse people’s rudeness or behavior. But rather to point out that in the same way you want your perspective to be considered in understanding why you feel disrespected, you should also consider the other person’s perspective. They may very well have thought there is nothing wrong with what they did. Or maybe the timing of your interaction with them was just bad and you caught them on their worst day.

As humans, we should be understanding and accommodating of one another. The best thing to do would be to have a frank conversation about it with them. Let them know that what they did hurt and offended you, and that you felt disrespected by it. And hopefully, it gets better from them.

But even if it doesn’t always remember nothing is worth your peace of mind. If people still choose not to respect you, don’t lose your sleep over it. Play your part, keep your distance from them and move on with your life, and living it to the fullest because they sure are living their lives to the fullest.


  • Why don’t people respect me? 

As we have shown you in this article, it can either be because the problem is with them or is with you. Carefully analyze the situation to find where the problem lies and then take the steps we have outlined in solving the problem.

  • How to be treated with respect? 

As said earlier, you can’t force respect, you can only earn it. The first thing to remember is that in order to get respect you have to give it. And if after you’ve given respect and followed all the steps in this article they still disrespect you, keep your distance from them.

  • What do you do when your family doesn’t respect you? 

Have a heartfelt conversation with them about it. Let them know how you feel and what it is they do that disrespects you. If after the conversation it persists, tell them you will need to keep your distance for your peace of mind and sanity. At the end of the day, you need to look out for yourself and your well being because your wellbeing is crucial for your quality of life.


Wanting respect is natural and okay. There is nothing wrong with you for wanting to be respected. People disrespect others for two main reasons – either because the problem is with them or the problem is with the other person.

When the problem is with the other person you can follow the steps outlined in this article, and when the problem is with you, also follow the steps outlined in this article.

In the final analysis, though, it is for the person to decide whether they will respect you. And if they decide they won’t, you cannot force them. The best you can do is to walk away and keep your distance from them, for your peace of mind.





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