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Have you ever been in a room with someone who commanded respect? They spoke in a self-assured way, and held themselves with confidence. When this person said something, people listened and took their ideas seriously. They seemed to be the very embodiment of confidence.

That self-assured person was probably able to command the respect of others because they respected themselves. When you show yourself a bit of self-love and appreciation, you demonstrate that you’re worthy of respect.

In short, respect starts with YOU. Before you can earn respect from other people, you need to learn to respect yourself. Respect is about understanding your own worth and appreciating your own values. This doesn’t mean you’re perfect. Everyone has flaws, but the way you handle those flaws clearly demonstrates whether you respect yourself or not.

An insecure or anxious person will dwell on their personal faults, but a person who respects themselves will simply acknowledge their shortcomings (if necessary) and move on.

To start building personal respect, try any or all of the following 6 steps:

1. Start improving your self-esteem.

Take some time to recognize your good qualities and accomplishments. Think of how capable you are of achieving your goals, and how you can use your strengths to benefit yourself and others.

Once you’ve built up your self-respect, you can work on expressing it outwardly. Speak positively about yourself and show gratitude for the successes and accomplishments you’ve achieved. Be proud of who you are!

2. Know your limits.

Respect yourself by recognizing your limitations and being honest about your capabilities. If you know you don’t have the time or capacity to take on a project, say “no.” If you’re tired of answering emails after hours, draw a line in the sand and stick to your policy. (Read more about setting healthy boundaries.)

3. Seek meaningful relationships.

Prioritize relationships that are supportive, positive, and beneficial. Respect yourself by rejecting interactions that don’t serve you emotionally.

4. Find your own happiness.

People who respect themselves don’t rely on the approval of others. Instead, they seek out their own sources of happiness and satisfaction. Define your own values and work to live according to them.

5. Make healthy choices.

Respect yourself by making choices that are in your best interest. You don’t always have to say “yes” to be liked, and you don’t have to please everyone. Reject things that aren’t in alignment with your objectives, values, or vision.

6. Forgive your mistakes.

Nobody’s perfect, and that’s okay! Respect yourself by not getting too bogged down by mistakes or failures. An essential part of respecting yourself is being kind to your mistakes and being willing to learn from them.

In conclusion, respect starts with YOU. Show yourself respect, and others will follow suit. Learn to accept yourself, practice self-love, and set boundaries that protect your own well-being. When you start to respect yourself, others will take notice and show you the same respect in turn.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 

HER NEW EBOOK IS CALLED A QUICK GUIDE TO COURAGE.

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You might be immersed in holiday stress right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a few minutes to ponder the year ahead. After all, it is right around the corner, and it’s better to be at least a little prepared than to have it sneak up on you. By putting in even 10 minutes of planning, you can add a little focus and direction to your year, rather than having it lead you around by the nose!

Take charge of your year by sitting down (perhaps with a nice cup of tea or a glass of wine), pondering the year ahead, and going through the following 8 steps. You could undertake this activity in about 10 minutes, but I encourage you to take all the time you need.

1. Write down all your goals

Jot down whatever comes to mind. Don’t edit; don’t pause. Just write down everything (big and small, personal and professional) you would like to accomplish next year.

2. Rate your goals

Once you have your list, go through it and consider which items are the most crucial and which are not. You could give each entry a 1, 2, or 3 rating with 1 representing your most important goals/aspirations, 2 being goals of middling importance, and 3 representing less important goals.

3. Focus on your “1” goals

Take a look at your most important goals (i.e., the “1s”). Hopefully you only have two or three “1” goals (if you have much more than that, consider relabeling some of them) so you can place your focus on these particular objectives. You can still accomplish your 2s and 3s, but they might not be the center of your focus.

4. Work backwards

For each of your top goals, set a specific date for when you’d like to accomplish them. From there, work backwards on your calendar. How can you break up your goal into bite-sized pieces? What are some of the major milestones you need to accomplish? Fill in your calendar accordingly, working backwards from your deadline.

5. Highlight important milestones

Once you’ve completed step 4, consider your important milestones. What needs to be done by certain dates to accomplish each milestone? Starting thinking about the support/resources you’ll need, the tasks you’ll have to accomplish, and the time you’ll devote to reaching each milestone.

6. Create a derailment plan

Life happens. If you don’t happen to meet one of the deadlines for your milestones, what will you do? What’s your derailment plan? Will you sit down and rethink your schedule? Will you commit to working one evening each week (or part of the weekend) until you get back on track?

7. Think of an accountability partner (or several)

List a few people who would make good accountability partners—people who could occasionally check in to help keep you on track. Be sure to list people who will not necessarily let you off the hook if you miss a deadline or are getting sidetracked. Rather, choose people whom you respect and do not want to let down. Once you have your list, reach out to one person at a time until someone agrees to be your accountability partner for the year. If they ask, be sure to return the favor.

8. Set a “go” date!

You have a plan. You’re ready to blast off into the New Year. Now, all you need is a “go” date—a time to begin your launch. This could be the first of the year, or it might be a date further down the road—whatever makes sense with your plan.

Too many people get bogged down by day-to-day life instead of stepping back and taking a bird’s eye view of their work or personal life. It can be immensely helpful to see the forest, instead of staring at the trees. By planning the year ahead, you partake in big-picture planning. You chart your course through the forest, instead of getting tripped up by the roots and brambles that everyday life tends to deliver.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 

HER NEW EBOOK IS CALLED A QUICK GUIDE TO COURAGE.

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No one likes to receive negative feedback. We’d all like to skate through life and have people tell us, “That was perfect! No changes necessary.” Or, “I love your ideas. Let’s adopt every single one of them.” Or, “Your report was impeccable. Don’t change a thing.”

If only.

The truth is, you will receive negative feedback at times, whether in a meeting, during an annual review, or from co-workers (in a more casual sense). Negative feedback can sting. You might feel defensive, you may dread the work that the feedback might create, or you might even feel some animosity toward the person who delivered the critique.

Those feelings are normal, and you can work through them. Let’s talk about 3 ways to deal with negative feedback.

1. Delay Your Reaction

When you or your work is criticized, your kneejerk reaction may be to bite back. You might say something snappy, blow off the criticism, or even attack the speaker. None of these are productive responses, and they may end up damaging relationships or your reputation.

Instead, take time to internalize the criticism. You might ask a clarifying question or two (or gently correct something the speaker misstated), but do your best to not be defensive. Even if you don’t entirely agree with the feedback, there may be a kernel of truth in it. Let your anger or disappointment subside before you respond.

2. Examine the Heart of the Feedback

How often do you latch onto a criticism, even when someone has given you several compliments? When dealing with negative feedback, sit down and think about everything that was said. Was the negative component the most important part of the feedback? Or simply the part that stuck with you?

Even if the negative portion of the feedback wasn’t the central focus, it’s worth addressing it. Now that you’re in a more neutral state (hopefully!), consider ways to course correct. Will this be a major undertaking? Will it involve other people or various resources? Start planning, but don’t get too far until you do Step 3…

3. Circle Back to the Critiquer

After you’ve had some time to digest the negative feedback, it’s a good idea to reach out to the person who delivered it. It could be that they didn’t state their case clearly, were confused, or overstated the problem. Or maybe they meant every word of their critique.

Whatever the case, I encourage you to contact this person and address their criticism head-on. You might start the conversation like this:

“I’ve been giving what you said about X a lot of thought, and I want to ask you some clarifying questions before diving in to make corrections. Can we chat?”

If they agree to talk, keep things civil and professional. You should have a genuine desire to make things better and improve! The goal of this conversation is to capture more information AND demonstrate to the other person that you hear them, respect their opinion, and are willing to put in the leg work to make things right.

No one loves negative feedback, but we can all learn from it. At times, this feedback may be exaggerated or just plain wrong, but don’t dismiss it outright. We can learn from others’ thoughts and perspectives, and it’s helpful to keep a humble, always-improving attitude. Besides, the more you deal with criticism, the easier it will be to take it.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 

HER NEW EBOOK IS CALLED A QUICK GUIDE TO COURAGE.

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