10 Creative Ways To Communicate Respectfully


10 Creative Ways To Communicate Respectfully

I have learnt that just as there are ways of destroying potential relationships, there are equally ways you can maximize them; and it all starts with how the communication happens. This realization came during a point in my life wherein I was losing a lot of friends and relationships for seemingly no concrete reason.

The truth is people hate to be disrespected.  When you disrespect someone, you make them feel unimportant. You smash their ego and what would naturally be on their minds at that point is how to smash yours. Tell me how you will build lasting friendships that way.

Do you want to build exceptional habits that will take you farther than you can ever imagine? Learn how to communicate respectfully.

Communicating respectfully does not only apply to when you are talking to someone older than you. It also applies when communicating with your age mates or younger ones. In fact, that is exactly what would make your listener like you the more.

Want to know more? Join me as I introduce you to 10 ways to communicate respectfully in any situation.

1. Start the conversation with greetings

Every conversation that would go far must first have a soft starting point wherein both parties give their best first impressions. That soft starting point usually starts with greetings and may continue on to the exchange of pleasantries depending on the situation.

Greetings give people a good feeling about you. Saying “good morning” to older people needing psychosocial support makes them feel admired. Add a broad grin to that and they will feel obliged to be open with you. Greet a person younger than you and he or she would feel loved.

Greetings make people feel you appreciate their existence, are happy to see them and are friendly. Imagine making someone feel so special just at the starting of the conversation. It creates a soothing pace for every other thing to follow. Expert salesmen understand this tactic.

Also, greeting a stranger gives you some time to study the person especially if you know what to say but not how to say it. I have been in situations where I was so shy to meet a stranger and then I just said ‘Hello”. What usually follows is a rush of relief, confidence and friendliness.

Endeavour to say some greetings whenever you meet someone and want to start a conversation. It could be ” hello”,” hi” or any of their equivalents in your local language. Do not forget to say “bye” when you end your conversation.

2. Speak clearly

I have a really deep voice so whenever I speak, I ensure I do not speak softly like Michael Jackson because people would hardly differentiate the sounds I’m making then.

I try my best to speak up as much as possible because if I don’t, someone might hear “f**k you” when in fact I’m saying, ” for you”. You need to learn how to speak louder sometimes so that people get to hear the exact words you are saying effortlessly.

It does not matter what language you speak. What matters is that, as you speak, I understand what you are saying. Many problems in marriage and relationship come from a lack of clarity of words.

Also, speaking clearly involves communicating your message with the right words. You want to express your feelings and opinions in a way that people get what exactly you want them to know and not something else.

Imagine this scenario below:

Mr. A, an entrepreneur, spends most of his time at home on his phone while his mates are running 9-5 jobs and seem to be doing better than him. His son notices this and feels like his father is lazy. He walks up to his dad and says, “Dad, you are not motivating me. You should be doing something better with your life”. Do you know how much damage this statement could cause?

The son could have just said: “Daddy, is there a reason you don’t like rushing around like other men do”. Notice the difference between the two statements.

With the first one, the father would feel attacked. He will be given the impression that his son is calling him a failure when, in fact, he may not be one. The boy may just be curious. However, with the second statement, the father will clearly see the reason for the question and would be so glad to explain.

Being audible would require you to speak slower, open your mouth wider, breathe deeper, expand your diaphragm more and maintain a good posture (suitably an erect one). I also advise laying emphasis on the last syllable of each word as you speak.

Using the right words also means not being vague. Compliment clearly in an encouraging manner. If you enjoyed a meal and you want to communicate that, you could say “That food was delicious. I enjoyed it. Well done”. Be clear. Use the right adjectives. If your critiques are not asked for, do not go-ahead to talk about the negatives, especially if you got the amazing food for free.

3. Listen attentively

Listening is a communication skill that is invaluable to relationships. Teenagers feel validated when parents are calm enough to listen to them. They may appear rebellious on the outside.

But deep inside, they want to tell you something and have you respect their opinions. The moment you do not, they are likely to get offensive. It is the same thing with everyone else.

When people talk, they want you to digest what they are saying by trying to understand their feelings and opinion. The reason many of us do not listen often is that we do not think we can be wrong. However, if you think deeply, you will realize there were times you were wrong.

When people think listening to others means being wrong or being embarrassed, they try to keep talking to win the argument or conversation. The truth is that when you do such, you are actually losing. When you fail to listen to the views or opinions of others, you become too narrow-minded. People who take time to listen are accorded more respect than those who do not.

Being emphatic is what listening is all about. It is one of the psychosocial needs that everyone longs for.  Listening does not mean your opinion is of no value. You can still say it when you are given the opportunity to and not when the other person is still talking. No parent will feel respected if their child keeps talking back at them and vice versa.

Some listening techniques include maintaining eye contact, asking people questions, having an agreeable attitude, and avoiding the urge to interrupt people as they speak.

4. Watch your gestures

People notice gestures faster than sounds. Making nonverbal cues is not a problem. In fact, it is natural and even advised by public speaking experts. The problem with a gesture arises when a gesture you make indicates disrespect.

We all know how bad gestures like giving someone the middle finger can be. But do know there are some specious gestures you could make without knowing?

For instance, if, as a student, I walk into my HOD’s office for the first time to ask for a favour and I sit lazily in front of him as I begin to pick my nose and rub the mucus with my fingers, such a gesture could depict complacency. My helper could lose interest in helping me without any word of insult from me.

Whenever you speak with people, have it in mind that they are watching your behaviour and comportment, even the movement of your eyes and the expression on your face. Yes! be careful.

Let your gestures be respectful enough and not, in any way, mock the other person. For example, crossing your hands in Finland is considered offensive so don’t forget to check your travel guide before you land in a foreign country and end up beaten to a pulp on your first day.

In the Philippines, giving someone a ” come over here” gesture with your hand is sure to put you in jail. In the Middle East, handshaking someone of the opposite sex or giving someone a thumbs up is considered an offence. So, gestures matter!

5. Be polite when seeking permission

Do you know that saying ” sir, I want you to sign this document” is a command and not a request?  Do you think commanding someone who is not validly a subordinate to you would make them feel respected? I don’t think so.

“Could you sign this document please?” would be more polite.

What is the whole essence of being polite?

Being polite caresses people’s ego and makes them feel respected. People don’t like feeling like they are being forced to do something. So, do as much as you can to ensure you are gentlemanly and respectful to a fault.

Don’t forget to say “please”. It may be difficult to say that, but remember stampeding your self-centeredness is the little price you need to make to communicate respectfully.

6. Don’t be meddlesome

We all love it when we have friends that feel emphatic about our lives and are concerned about helping us become better. However, you know there are limits to how much space you want people to have in your life.

Yet, some friends can be just so meddlesome, they just won’t get it. They want to know your house, your family, your relationship – everything. They want to open you up.

I am not disputing the fact that you might need some help from friends but you love it when your privacy is respected. When you are talking with someone, the last thing you want to do is to broach a topic they don’t want to talk about.

It could be the death of a loved one, sickness or even their sexuality. Some of their private information could be things that they are ashamed of.

In order to communicate respectfully, you must get to identify how much open a person wants to be with you and stick to that so that you don’t disrespect them by seeking too much information that they won’t feel good about.

As time goes on, the person would definitely give you more space once trust is established. But in the meantime, keep your distance or just say “It’s fine if you don’t want to share”

7. Don’t be rude

Being rude involves what is said and how it’s said. You need to be less of a proud cock in order to communicate respectfully, period. Drop your ego.

Put the importance and feelings of others ahead of yours. Insulting people is bad. It can take away the respect they have for you and ultimately annoy them bitterly. Insulting people could also lead to a lack of trust and you might have to work harder to regain that trust.

There are several ways to practise being less rude. Address people properly. I almost got into trouble lately when someone heard me refer to my Head Of Department as “Mr.” instead of “Dr”.  

  1. Be kind with your words.
  2. Communicate without hurting people’s feelings.
  3. Think before you talk.
  4. Don’t react or respond when you’re still angry about the situation.
  5. And only say with you’ll want someone to say to you.

8. Get to know them better

There are certain things a tribe find disrespectful and another tribe may care less about it. What am I trying to say? People have different levels of respect they accord to things.

It helps to get to know people better before talking to them so as to know their preferences and avoid their dislikes.

Once you get to know them better, you’d be in a better position to speak respectfully. For instance, it might be respectful to walk up to a lady and downplay her pain over a relationship that isn’t working.

That won’t be received well because women are naturally relational beings. However, if you have bonded with such a person e.g your husband, it will be easier to make a joke out of serious matters and end up making him laugh without sounding rude.

So endeavour to study people for some time before you approach them. Getting to know their culture and general attitude towards life could really be of help.

9. Communicate with a selfless attitude

The basis of any friendship should be how that friendship can contribute and empower the other person.

If you view every conversation as an opportunity to help the other person, you won’t be disrespectful because you won’t want to waste that opportunity.

Make up your mind to be the first to help. Be the first to say nice things about the person. If you can’t help in any other way, put a smile on his/ her face.

10. Practise

A friend of mine sounds sweet when talking to people. Everyone who meets him loves him and feels respected by him. I used to wonder whether he was born with all the communication skills working at full throttle until he told me how a lecturer got really angry with him because of the way he said something.

Much to my surprise, my friend didn’t say a word of insult as the lecturer claimed. He didn’t even make a rude gesture. All he did was ask the man for something personal in the presence of someone else.

Because he learnt his lesson, the next time I was with him when he visited our Vice Dean, he practically took the Vice Dean far away from me just to ask for the man’s spare flash drive. You see how mastery can become wisdom.

I learnt that very moment that my friend’s supposed sweetness was as a result of a bitter experience he learnt from. We grow to learn every day.

But there will be no learning without action. You mustn’t be afraid to fail. Make sure you don’t remain on the low rungs of communication skills because you’ll need people and if you can’t communicate with them respectfully, you won’t get the best from them. So, it’s worth the trouble to learn these things.

Communicating respectfully would help you to maximise the opportunities and potentials friendships life has to offer. It’s up to you!


There you have it. The above 10 points would be very instrumental if you put them to work. So, make sure you do.

Practice being respectful from now on. How? Well, there are about 8 billion people on the planet today. A good percentage of them are in your neighbourhood, your school, your workplace, etc. So, get off your bed and do some practice.

We all know the basic way of using our mouths to communicate but there is so much proper communication to do that you had better unlearn and relearn every time you have a chance like this one.

If we all could communicate respectfully, we would become better at keeping and maintaining our relationships with people. This world will also be a less violent place.

Many people think you only communicate respectfully when you don’t use swear words like “idiot”. Well, there are several ways of disrespecting someone and the ways you comport yourself could be disrespectful as well.

Start with the ones on the list you feel are the easiest for you and work your way up. Congratulations as you work on yourself.

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