So You Want to Be Respected?

I’m always amazed when I reminisce on the many stupid things I’ve done just to appear cool. I remember when I was a teenager I used to iron the back of my school uniform shirts in a certain way just to have that swagger. Boy, looking back now, that must have been one hell of madness, really!

But when you compare all I did to look cool (I still didn’t look cool, sad!) to what others did or are doing, you will pat me on the back for keeping most of the screws holding my sanity together. Em, you can’t blame me for losing a few.

So which begs the question: why do we desperately want to appear cool? Or what do we want to achieve when we do very outrageous things…to be respected by others?

You want to know what some of us do just to be respected? Here are some:

Lie about who we are
My mum owns the National Theatre or I’m the CEO of Somewhere Limited with interests in oil and gas, properties, etc. I’m also into forwarding and backwarding.

Drop names like it’s hot
Bihari and my dad play draught every weekend and if I don’t call Osinbajo every other day he’s going to throw tantrums, crawl into a little room in Aso Rock and bawl like a child.

Buy things we can’t afford on credit
Social media is replete with car dealers chasing celebrities around on cars not paid for. I know a couple of guys who get first class tickets on credit and then dodge the hapless travel agents for months. Enough said.

Sucking up
Become a lap dog to senior management, celebrities, just to be relevant. They treat you like crap but you take it like blessing all because you want to be seen as part of the hip crowd. You even laugh at their stupid jokes!

Fake it like it’s real
This is pretty common! Buy fake designer bags, shoes and accessories just to look like you’re happening! I once followed a friend into a real Channel store, saw the price tags and left with a profound knowledge that all the Channel brooches I’ve seen in my office are fakes. Walahi!

Date an eye candy
Do all you can to date that super skinny yellow girl with a hip/waist ratio – that can make even a Cardinal lose his faith. It doesn’t matter that she’s emptier than a washed out barrel. Sometimes it is to stick up to the abusive super rich oil tycoon married boyfriend who pounds her with blows better than fufu.

There are many more ways to be a dick head just because we want to be known, seen, respected and be successful. If you think I’m talking about musicians, Nollywood starlets, OAPs, etc. you are so wrong! Their misbehaviors are part of the drama that life gives us as entertainment; their craziness is what defines them. I’m actually referring to the everyday me, you, my cousins and some of your colleagues at work.

Fundamentally somewhere in the deep recess of each of us (especially me) we want to be respected and everything we strive for is to achieve that – money, career, fame, girls, husbands, etc. Since the need to be respected can’t be cured or is innate to us, maybe we should focus our attention on how to be respected in a wholesome manner.

Let me break it down. The best way to be respected is to be good in what you do. No other sustainable way.

I can illustrate this better with two Nigerian women. Dame Patience Jonathan was a favorite punch bag for everyone with her numerous gaffes and poor grammar; she provided a good comic relief. Nothing beats this YouTube performance. Nike Davies Okundaye, on the other hand, represents some of the best things that ever came out of Nigeria. She grew up uneducated but despite that developed herself into a world renown artist.

Both are Nigerian women with poor grammar and don’t speak with phoney but while one is lampooned at every turn, the other is revered. Why? Because everyone knows Nike is good in what she does.

How to get real respect
Understand that the need to be respected isn’t bad. Like the need to get Coldstone Ice Cream or to Netflix, it’s part of every one of us.

Real and enduring respect comes from competence. When you are very good at what you do, and you are smart and consistent, trust me, even your haters will give you sadankata. I don’t like Cristiano Ronaldo and it’s from pure jealousy; he’s rich and I’m not. He has a six-pack but I’ve just a large one. He’s popular but nobody even knows me on my street. Beef aside though, I respect him because he’s good and not from luck; he’s good because he works hard at being good. How do you explain scoring more than 50 goals consistently for 6 straight seasons, na yam?

So put in real efforts into what you do and after a while, everyone will give you the required praise and attention you need. Don’t look for a shortcut, real competence takes a while to have.

Be yourself and don’t try to be others. After all you weren’t born a clone so why become one? You will be surprised that the fancy people you want to be like aren’t even half as good as you are!

Don’t buy what you can’t afford, fake your accent or wear stuff just because it’s the in-thing. Be comfortable in your own skin. By the way, this doesn’t give you liberty to dress like an idiot. Being cultured is part of competence.

Don’t suck up to politicians, celebrities, supervisors, the happening guys in your office, bla bla. It’s just a sad display and will definitely embarrass your kids in the future. You can’t imagine how much I cringe at the sickening display of loyalty in different offices – you call someone young enough to be your child oga or madam etc. just because you want to be relevant, seriously? Dude, do your job!

Understand the fact that being popular wouldn’t last forever so why kill for it? Even if you are the trending item on Twitter today or the most sought after speaker on the talk circuit, after a while everyone would be naturally bored and move on to the next thing. It doesn’t mean you ain’t respected, so don’t sweat it. Continue to do what you are good at. It will most certainly speak for you in the long run.

This brings me to talk about supervisors, managers and other random senior people in random offices. If you want your subordinates or colleagues to respect you, it won’t be by politics or being the boss from hell. Be a leader and be competent. Leadership means you provide your team with vision and you lead them on a mission of towards greatness. Of course discipline is needed and if butts need whopping, please apply whatever whopping is prescribed in the company handbook. But you need to be good and knowledgeable on the job to be respected so preaching leadership alone is – meh! When things are tough, they expect you to reach into your endless wealth of experience to solve whatever problem the team or your subordinate is facing at that time.


This article has also been published at www.bellanaija.com.

Comments 4

  1. Tobi wrote:

    This, as usual, is another awesome piece from you Deji. I’ve always thought sucking up to superiors is just bull…

    My motto is “if you cannot beat them, be different. Stand out, no matter what”, and the best way to stand out, as you have explained, is being the best at what you do. Only the diligent ones have seats with Kings, and not mean men.

    The paragraph in this article on Leadership tho…PRICELESS!!!…

    I’m most definitely joining your league of mentees, and hopefully soon would put a face to the name 🙂

    Posted 17 May 2016 at 9:42 am
  2. Tobi wrote:

    This, as usual, is another awesome piece from you Deji. I’ve always thought sucking up to superiors is just bull…

    My motto is “if you cannot beat them, be different. Stand out, no matter what”, and the best way to stand out, as you have explained, is being the best at what you do. Only the diligent ones have seats with Kings, and not mean men.

    The paragraph in this article on Leadership tho…PRICELESS!!!…

    Posted 17 May 2016 at 12:41 pm
  3. Anon wrote:

    “If you want your subordinates or colleagues to respect you, it won’t be by politics or being the boss from hell”. A random senior someone is looking into the mirror .

    Posted 22 May 2016 at 4:37 pm
  4. akin wrote:

    “Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be.”
    so don’t lets take it for granted..
    Thanks Deji for sharing this piece!

    Posted 21 Feb 2017 at 4:03 pm

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