Would you rather be liked or respected?

Liked vs. Respected

This question came to mind last week when I took over a college class halfway through the semester.

I know how tough it is for students to have 2 professors over the course of a 12 week semester. 2 sets of rules. 2 sets of expectations.

So it’s more important than ever that I play my “first impression” card right.

Students are more likely to “test the limits with the “new teacher”. Accordingly, I use a more strict than usual demeanour at the start of summer semester.

It usually works well. As my tough love approach becomes more on the love side, and less on the tough side as the weeks roll by.

However, this time I knew my first class authoritarian approach was not going to work.

Suddenly I had my hands full right off the bat. One of my students was not impressed in any way.

After laying down the law, the student looked up at me and said: “I’m not going to like you very much.”

And I said: “Good, because I’m not here to be liked, I’m here to teach you something.”

The student loudly responded: “Good, because I just learned something!

To this day I am grateful for how much this student underscored my purpose in the classroom. 

I am not here to be liked. I am here to teach psychology.

A life lesson in self-worth that applies to us all.

“Self-worth comes from one thing – thinking that you are worthy.”

60 thoughts on “Would you rather be liked or respected?

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  1. Yes, what a wonderful and powerful lesson to be learned and one that took me years to see. Of the two respect is the most important because without it boundaries become so blurred as does the truth. Wish we’d have figured it out earlier in life, lol.

    1. If anyone knows about this topic in the classroom – it’s you!

      It also took me years to realize that respect = valuing oneself. And how self-respect is the foundation for others’ respect.

      And if we lead with our strengths rather than our need for approval, respect happens when we least expect it.

      (Something we encourage our students to do too.)

      Full circle life lessons. My favourite!

      1. You have an awesome task of imparting your wisdom and knowledge in the classroom Andrea. You will see the successes of your efforts down the road and know you made a difference.

  2. I always told my kids that I’m their dad and not their friend. How that they are adults, I’m happy that we have become friends, but the fact of the matter is that from the time they were born until they left the house, my job was to raise them and to turn them into good, honest, respectful and respectable people. The best way for me to do that was to lead by example. Therefore, I prefer to be respected than liked. It’s easy to like someone you respect.

    1. I love how you wrote “It’s easy to like someone you respect.” That is a mantra to live by! Your kids are blessed by your leadership. You are an excellent role model for both them & your readers. Thank you for continuing to share your ideas.

  3. I agree with your stance! My favorite teachers’ main priorities were to teach and they were passionate about it, and so I liked them anyway. I think as students we like the teacher best when we know what is expected of us, and we know what we need to do to be successful in class. I have learned that physical therapists are teachers too and it is important to be able to communicate with patients so that they can get better, not so they like you :)) loved your quick answer to that loud student!

    1. Jess! We are so on the same page! And you’re right. So much about being a PT, and clinicians in every form, is about teaching our patients. Giving them the skills to take with them, which includes respect in all forms. And I love how you noticed my quick response to my student. Something that I didn’t even see coming. And I do love a challenge. 📚💚

  4. Oh gosh i think teaching is hard.. i am no teacher. I think if possible to be a teacher that is like , respected and teaches well would be perfect. But then you are always going to get a student who wont like you. But that is life in any place? One of the other commentor said he wasnt friends to his kids and then became friends later. I have been friends with my parents always and they were tough where they had to be.. we all need some love in some shape or form.. displine is love .. but love with no discipline is a receipe for disaster..

    1. Yes! Love & Discipline must be in equal proportions. For ourselves & others. Finding the best percentage for each depends on the person & the situation. Which is why “being in tune” and mindful is paramount. We all need to feel important. Paying attention to the person in front of us is the best way to do it. In & out of the classroom!

  5. The liked or respected question is something that I have long conflicted with. I want to be liked and it kind of hurts when someone doesn’t like you, but then I started realising it was more important depending what role it applied to. Therefore I think it is important to be liked by friends and family. Then respected when it comes to a work or professional environment.

    1. Yes, yes! We all have. If only you’d seen me on my first day of teaching. On my first date with my husband. On my first tour of the playground…

      I believe we all begin our journey to self-worth by looking to others for validation. And then one day, we wake up and realize that the only place to find lasting validation is from within.

      A slow and often painful process shared by all. From liking to respecting and back again.

      1. “From liking to respecting and back again.” – I think this statement describes my life, perfectly. I believe I am “back again”…working on going back to self-validation.

  6. If you are respected FIRST, then I think you will be liked. Although we have to remember that respect is earned. So don’t expect to be respected off the bat. Love what you said to your student! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Excellent point. “Respect must be earned.”

      There is no fast track to respect. Respect takes time & effort. Whether it be the knowledge you attained before meeting someone. Or the time you invest in relationships.

      Do your best at “what you do best.” And have the courage to surrender the rest. Eg. being liked, being popular, etc.

    1. Good evening professor! We experience the same dilemmas in the classroom – no matter the years of experience. And thank God I was quick on my feet last week.. not always guaranteed! BTW: you inspired this post too! Our conversations always get me thinking. 📚♥️

      1. I love it!! 🙂 I especially love how the classroom does not discriminate against inexperience or lots of experience. It’s the grand equalizer. That’s good thinking on your feet! A++ for that!

  7. Definitely RESPECTED, but there are times we want to be liked by other people as well. I myself had a hard time dealing with this, there was a point in my life that I want to please other people to the point that it stressed the hell out of me. Right now I am still in the process of learning and telling myself that I don’t need to be liked by others, I need to be true to myself. If people don’t like me then it’s there loss not mine. Thanks for this article, it’s a good reminder for me. 🙂

    1. People pleasing is soul confining. Something most women (including myself) know all too well. Give yourself a break in this area Lindsay. You will grow out of it. Trust me. 40 is the magic number. In the meantime, focus on being kind to yourself. All joy flows from there. 🌸

  8. Great post! Personally I like being liked more than respected, but it depends on the situation. 😀

    I encountered the flip side of the problem; in Asian culture we have a “respect your elders” thing going. When I was a child, my parents demanded that respect and I felt like I didn’t like or respect them, but instead feared them. I think being tough on your kids is good in small doses, but not all the way. 🙁

    1. Thank you for sharing your cultural experience on respect. Definitely explains why you choose being liked over being respected. Once it’s “demanded” by your elders – it’s no longer respect, it’s obedience. And where’s the respect in that? More like a loss in personal freedom whenever your elders are around – no matter if you’ve 15 or 35.

  9. I have a background in Social Work and Criminal Justice… yep, try to marry those two in a career! Respect must be absolute, in a profession of working with others… being likable comes from those firm boundaries and sticking to them. That was how I played my hand as a director warden of a work release… even with staff! They had to know I was not going to be broken. Dang, I miss my job! (Chronic illness stole it away but I loved my career, I’ll always have those memories.) Fun to read your blogs for the same reason, getting to live a bit vicariously through you.~Kim

  10. Hi there!
    This is a very good question and it should be asked more frequently among others. I definitely prefer to be respected over being liked. We all need to set boundaries, and acknowledge this world is cruel. It’s ironic that being overly nice (as a social approach to accomplish being liked) is sometimes viewed as overwhelming and maybe irresistible, depending on the situation. I always try to stay humble, and I typically “let loose” once I feel respected. It’s definitely a feeling within us. My opinion though, of course. Interesting thought.

    1. Excellent point! I would agree. Males are socialized for power. While women are socialized for relationships via likeability. (Paralyzing AND too often the opposite of authenticity.) Upside: We can be the change.

  11. I, too, have used that line many times. And, I have actually won many over because at the end of the day, most just want to know where you stand & that you are a person of your word. That, in turn, builds trust & respect, which most people like. A win-win…well, most of the time:-).

  12. I wished there was another way of expressing ‘respect.’ I do not like that word; it’s meaning is over used and misused. Some use it to excuse destructive behavior wrapped in a salve for their ego. Based on my understanding, respect speaks to the nurturing of ego, not growth. I believe when I enter an experience with someone, it is for the benefit of us both. If there is resistance from either person, then there is no growth within that experience. Another opportunity will come again, and so I do not spend my moments digging my heels into dry, brittle soil. I encounter moments, similar to what you have shared, with my children as well and I make sure I let them know about the responsibility they have towards themselves. I remind them of the options before them which are always there for them to make the best choice for them. Be homeschooled or go to public school. I encourage them to take the time needed to make an informed decision based on who they are at the time and where their desires are leading them. My children are ten and six, and I have been having these discussions with them for some years now. Thank you for this talking point. I enjoyed expressing myself through it.

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