Feeling disrespected can bring you down and make it tough to remember all the amazing qualities you have to offer. While it’s important to keep a positive attitude and give people the benefit of the doubt, understanding the red flags of disrespect will enable you to stand up for yourself and boost your self-esteem. From the subtle cues to the classic warning signs of disrespectful behavior, we’ll show you what to look out for and how you can get the respectful treatment you deserve.
They don’t recognize your effort.
Ask yourself, “Do I feel appreciated?” Disrespectful people ignore the work you’ve put into something. They might even take credit for your effort and success. You have value as a person and deserve to be recognized for your contributions. Create a list of your own successes and positive traits to validate yourself, no matter what anyone else says. Then, talk to the disrespectful person or people about how you’re feeling.
- In the workplace, talk to your boss about what you’ve achieved. Ask for their thoughts on your strengths so they get a chance to think about the value you add: “I’d like to get your input on what you think my strengths are and how I can put them to use for the company. I know in the last three months, my team accomplished…”
- With a partner or friend, use “I” statements to let them know how you’re feeling undervalued: “I feel hurt and a little disappointed when you don’t thank me for making dinner every night.”
They don’t follow through.
Watch out for broken promises, which signal a lack of respect. Sometimes friends, bosses, and partners get swamped with work or other engagements. However, if someone repeatedly flakes on you, it can hurt, and it might be a sign they don’t value your time or relationship enough. Talk to them about the impact their actions have on you, and ask if anything is getting in the way of commitments on their end.
- For a friend/partner: “I’m upset that we had to cancel dinner again the other night. Could you tell me a bit more about why that happened?”
- For a coworker/boss: “Have you gotten a chance to look at that proposal yet? I’d like to move forward with it, but I won’t be able to until it’s approved.”
- As a bonus, act powerful and confident to signal you deserve respect: If you’re soft spoken, speak louder and enunciate. Stand with good posture. If you like to sit in the back of the room or the corner, sit towards the front or the center.
They only reach out when they need something.
Is this person there for you, even when they have nothing to gain? You might show genuine interest in their life, but it’s not a fair relationship if you only receive care and attention back when the other person can benefit. Imbalanced relationships can make you feel frustrated and disappointed. Set boundaries for your time and energy by limiting contact with that person and saying “no” when they ask too much of you.
They give you the silent treatment.
Shunning or “ghosting” signals the person may not value the relationship. You might feel stressed or upset when someone ices you out—and that’s normal, since we’re programmed to be social creatures. Ask them to talk to you about what’s going on. There might be other things going on in their life that make it difficult to talk, or they might be intentionally cutting you out. In that case, confront them directly, since giving the silent treatment back can psychologically add to your stress.
- Avoid escalating the situation by calmly explaining the situation, the behavior, and the impact it has had on you: “I sent you a text the other day to check in. I noticed you haven’t gotten a chance to respond yet. I’m feeling pretty bummed out about that and worried about you.”
They don’t give you their full attention.
Look for multitasking, constantly being on a device, and not making eye contact. Listening makes up a key part of respect! Set expectations for how you’d like to communicate, and let the person or people know you can wait until they’re finished with what they’re doing before talking.
- For a coworker or boss: “I don’t want to interrupt what you’re doing. Should we reschedule?”
- For a friend or partner: “I love you and want to spend quality time with you. How about we do a phone-free dinner?”
They interrupt you.
Verbally cutting you off signals blatant disrespect. Your ideas and what you have to say matter. In a workplace scenario, prevent interruptions by giving the person a preview of what you’re going to say and then letting them know when you’ll take questions or ask for their input. For friends or partners, start a one-on-one conversation somewhere private about what you’ve noticed and how you feel about it.
- For the workplace: “I’d love to walk you through some of the ideas I had for the Park Blvd. project, and then after I go through what I’ve outlined, I’d appreciate your input.”
- For a friend or partner: “I’ve noticed you interrupt me sometimes when I’m talking. I love your enthusiasm, but it makes me feel frustrated when I can’t finish what I’m saying.”
- For a less confrontational approach, you can address a group to create new expectations: “Let’s work to be more mindful when we’re speaking and make sure we give everyone a chance to get their ideas out.”
They dismiss you and your ideas.
Watch out for both verbal and nonverbal dismissive behavior. Someone who doesn’t respect you might frequently reject your ideas or proposals, especially in front of others. They might even roll their eyes or audibly scoff at what you’re saying. That behavior doesn’t mean your ideas aren’t good, and it’s their loss. Speak up for yourself by pushing back when someone dismisses you.
- Stand your ground and repeat your idea with reasoning for why it’s good: “Hear me out. I really think this could work because…”
- Remind the person of your value and qualifications: “The last project I worked on did much better than it was expected to, and so I think we should give this a shot.”
They don’t respect your boundaries.
Respectful people listen when you say “no.” Disrespectful people might push your boundaries in small ways like planning a date—even when you’ve said you don’t want to go out that night—or they might disrespect your boundaries by calling you a derogatory term. Express what you need in the relationship, be clear about what you don’t want, and understand that you have the power to say “no.”
- In the workplace, be clear about your workload or issue and suggest an alternative: “Thanks so much for this opportunity. Unfortunately, I can’t take on another project right now since I’m looking to launch our new line. Could we circle back after the launch next week?”
- In your personal life, be honest but firm about your needs. Look to compromise if it’s possible: “I’d love to spend more time with you, but honestly, I’m so tired by the weekend. Could we set aside time every other week to hang out?”
They put you down.
Look out for insults, name-calling, and demeaning language. Clearly let the person know you don’t like to be spoken about like that. If you’re facing this kind of disrespect at work, school, or in your organization, report any derogatory comments to HR or your supervisor.
- “I don’t feel respected when you use that name for me or speak about me like that. Please stop.”
They get angry with you.
Disrespectful people may not care about your feelings. They may excessively lash out at you or blame you for their problems. While people get angry from time to time, healthy relationships never include physical violence, coercion, or intimidation. Regardless of the nature of the relationship (whether it’s with a supervisor, a significant other, or a friend), you deserve to feel safe and respected, no matter what.
- Remain calm and don’t escalate the situation by yelling.
- Reassure them by telling them you hear what they’re saying: “It sounds like you’d like me to…”
- If you can push back safely, tell them you won’t accept certain behavior: “I can’t talk to you when you yell at me.”
- Leave the job or relationship if the pattern of disrespect continues. You will find other people who value you and truly respect you.
They stop talking when you enter the room.
Excluding others from the conversation is a clear sign of disrespect. It creates a separation between you and the group, intending to make you feel like you don’t belong. But here’s the thing, you do belong! Help the rude people get to know you as a person worthy of respect by making an effort to connect with the people around you. Let your organization or higher-ups know if the disrespectful behavior gets worse or continues, since it might signal a more serious discrimination or bullying issue.
- If you can’t report the negative treatment, find at least one “ally,” someone who treats you with respect and can help you advocate for yourself.
You’re always the first person to apologize.
Pay attention to how often they accept responsibility when you two share the blame. Taking partial ownership of miscommunication or conflict signals respect for the other person because it shows you value preserving the relationship. When you’ve genuinely made a mistake, it’s okay to apologize, but when you notice the other person rarely apologizes, break the habit of taking all blame.
Ask yourself: “What message is my apology sending? Am I sending a message of genuine intention and goodwill? Or am I diminishing my presence and my value by taking on extra responsibility?
13 You feel drained after spending time with them.
Check in with yourself when you get home after seeing the person. How do you feel? Dealing with disrespect can be emotionally exhausting, even if you can’t pinpoint exactly how that person makes you feel so bad. Consider taking a break from the friendship or relationship if it’s gotten toxic. If you can’t leave the situation (especially if it’s at work), spend time with people who bring you up in life and make you feel recharged.
Ask yourself: “Does this person make me feel mostly good about myself or bad about myself?”