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Respect, Effective Anger, and Being Taken Seriously
January 15, 2010 10:50 AM   Subscribe

When I was growing up, people (including other adults) took adults a lot more seriously than people take me now. I'm an adult now, and turned 30 recently, but people don't take me seriously. How can I make this happen?

I grew up around serious people, like my father and the Scoutmaster from my Boy Scout troop. People who weren't on intimate terms with these people always addressed them with a title (such as Mr. Nymous for my father), and it took some doing to go from the "Mr. Lastname" stage to the "Firstname" one. When they had something to say, people listened closely to them and gave them a reasonably well-considered response.

Also, their anger had some force behind it. They weren't angry all the time, of course, but when they did get angry, people got scared and things got done fast.

As I said above, I turned 30 recently. I have an undergrad degree, a graduate degree, a job, and my own apartment. I pay all my own expenses. In short, I am an adult, but people don't treat me that way. They don't take me seriously, they call me "Anon" instead of "Mr. Nymous" (I have finally acquired the confidence necessary to object to someone I don't know calling me "honey," "baby," or "kid" on first reference, with acceptable results), and when I get angry, it just looks silly.

I'm sick of this--it feels like I'm just being treated like a tall kid. I want to be able to conduct myself in such a way that people who don't know me well call me "Mr. Nymous" on first reference (not "Anon"), that people take me seriously, and that on the occasions when I get angry, people get scared and things get done fast.

I grew up in the Midwest, but now I live near San Francisco--is this just a consequence of me relocating? If so, how can I learn how to conduct myself as a person who is treated with respect in the Bay Area? And either way, how can I learn how to conduct myself as a person who is treated with respect everywhere?

As I write this, I recall a negotiation course I took because I felt that I hadn't gotten the best deal I could in some recent transactions. While it was interesting and valuable, I concluded that I didn't really have a negotiation problem, but rather a power problem. That is, the reason I didn't get the best deal possible wasn't because I needed what they were offering more than they needed what I was offering--i.e., they could hurt me more than I could hurt them. Is power--the capacity to hurt people, or at least deny them something they want--the key or only thing that I'm missing? (In that case, I guess muddling through my life until I get to the point where I can affect others is the real answer.)

Any locally-available training courses you could recommend would be welcome, as would self-help texts, audio courses, or the like.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (75 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think it's a combination of power and the fact that times and culture have changed. There's probably also some regional variation, but I bet even if you went back to your hometown things will be more informal than they were when you were a child.

Also, remember that the perspective of a child is differnet than that of an adult. People sometimes put on more of a respectful/formal show for children (or even people with less power). My colleagues call me Prof. Penguin in front of undergrads, but "If Only" when there are no undergrads around. Teachers and other people working with children get the same deal, so you might have perceived things as even more formal than they were.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:59 AM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are pretty much no circumstances where I would call someone "Mr." Anything, unless they were calling me Ms. Llama at the same time. In a general way, the line between adulthood and childhood has gotten pretty murky. I'm forty, and Mr. Llama's primary fashion choices remain jeans and a tee-shirt, and frankly I spend more time in hoodies and using words like 'lulz' than a forty year old woman probably should.

Basically, many of us look and act like a bunch of kids. But still. I'm an adult. I have a graduate degree and an office with a door, I have a kid and bank accounts. It's not like I'm home making bottle cap sculptures and dressing like Stevie Nicks.

I am sorry to be the one to tell you this, but thirty is quite young. It's the early years of your career, whatever that is. You might be happiest in a hierarchical conservative business, like banking.

But you also might want to question some of these assumptions, that respect and fear are equivalent.

There are a lot of ways to get what you want through win/win negotiation strategies, better communication, and taking more time to understand the other side so that you can respond more quickly to their objections or concerns.

Scaring people is for assholes.

And if people call you honey, they're likely not in any sort of position where you should care whether or not they call you honey.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:02 AM on January 15, 2010 [27 favorites]


I can't advise you on how to be more threatening (which is kinda what problem #2 sounds like), but as for people calling you by your first name, it's not just you. Almost no adult calls anyone by Title + Last Name anymore, and I'd wager most adults prefer to be called by their first name. The only people who call ever me Ms. Baby are telemarketers.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:03 AM on January 15, 2010


Nobody except teachers and actual superiors gets called Mr. X anymore, and I reserve such titles only for people that truly command my respect (and cops). Serious people or people who expect to be called "sir" or "Mr. X" do not commonly fall into this category.

I'm 25 and rarely get angry. Really rarely, but when I have been I was later told, "that was scary." Probably because it never happens since I am definitely not physically intimidating. Or because it takes something kinda crazy to make me spring into such action. Other than that things happen when I'm riled because I make them happen rather than expecting my emotional outburst to do something for me.

Are you what you'd call assertive? If not, just become so.
posted by cmoj at 11:03 AM on January 15, 2010


I think your problem is partially your relocation to a more laid-back part of the country, and partially a reflection of the changing values of our culture over the past decades. For example, I hardly ever encounter anyone addressing someone as "Mr. Soandso" anymore; it's almost obsolete.

It's also, like you surmised, partially you. But I don't know that it's a lack of power or anger. Sounds more like a confidence issue to me. Confidence is reflected in how aware you are of your surroundings, how well you take control of and responsibility for your own life, and how you carry yourself (your posture, your stride, your smile, your handshake, your clear and loud-enough communication). Do you project an assertive, genial vibe to the people you interact with? Or do you use weasel words that suggest you lack confidence? Do you refer to others as "Mr. Soandso" and introduce them to third parties that way?

I think that seeking out leveraging power over people and trying to find strength in anger are bad ideas. You can make yourself confident and worthy of the respect of others without channelling negative energy. You can still be a happy person.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 11:04 AM on January 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Getting what you want via the "capacity to hurt people" is a rough perspective to have. People calling you by your first name doesn't mean they don't respect you. Personally, I feel like society as a whole is much less formal (perhaps especially on the west coast?) than it was in your parents' generation.

Respectfully, I would say you might want to start by taking yourself a little less seriously and working toward viewing your interactions with others less in terms of negotiations and getting what you want and more in terms of collaboration and working with others for the benefit of all involved.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 11:04 AM on January 15, 2010 [10 favorites]


"I want to be able to conduct myself in such a way that people who don't know me well call me "Mr. Nymous" on first reference (not "Anon")"

That is simply something that has changed with the times; even my doctors introduce themselves to me by first name and I call them by their first names. (I'm 31.) The only place I get called "Ms. McGee" is when someone's writing me a business letter for my minor elected position, or addressing me during that business. Adults in direct authority over children are often addressed by the children as "Miss Rachel" or "Dr. Joe" these days, other than in school settings. (And I live in a fairly conservative area where a premium is placed on formal politeness. So I doubt you'll do better in a more casual part of the country!)

"that people take me seriously, and that on the occasions when I get angry, people get scared and things get done fast."

This is a child's view of adult anger, and if your goal in anger is to scare others (children or adults), your career will stall out and you will NOT be taken seriously or respected. Fear and respect are not the same thing, and in the adult world, fear will only take you so far before you are systematically circumvented, ignored, or removed from positions with any kind of power.

People pay attention when I get angry because I get angry rarely, keep control of my temper even when angry, and have good rational reasons for being angry -- and either a plan for how to fix the problem, or an openness to others' plans for fixing the problem.

I too think you need to rethink your conceptions of power, anger, and respect. Your attitudes toward them seem negative and immature and THAT is likely to be a stumbling block in your attempt to earn respect.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:05 AM on January 15, 2010 [31 favorites]


Just as a data point, I'm 31, live in DC, and I think people take me seriously when they meet me, but it's a rare occasion that I introduce myself as Gabe Samoza and the person responds by calling me Mr. Samoza. It's pretty standard to call people by their first name in most professional settings and so you shouldn't consider that a slight.

In fact, the only people I can think of that have called me Mr. Samoza have been housekeepers or laborers I've hired to work at my house. In those cases there's the power imbalance you're talking about, but that's just not going to be the case in most of your interactions with other people.

Anyway, the only people that get treated with respect everywhere they go basically get it by sending out strong intimidating signals at all times. I'm thinking of bald, muscular drill sergeant types and motorcycle gangsters with leather jackets, tattoos and chains. I guess a sort of Donald Trump attitude of walking around and just being a rude, forceful dick can accomplish the same in a less physical way.
posted by gabrielsamoza at 11:06 AM on January 15, 2010


There are pretty much no circumstances where I would call someone "Mr." Anything, unless they were calling me Ms. Llama at the same time.

This. An important part of being an adult and being treated as an adult is knowing when formality is just that: formality, and the lack thereof doesn't reflect on a lack of respect. The only person in my office referred to by his last name is the Big Boss, and even that is rare.

I think "How To Win Friends and Influence People" might be something you ought to read to learn how to tolerate people's not living up to your expectations.
posted by griphus at 11:07 AM on January 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, who do you want to treat you like this? Friends? Neighbors? Coworkers? Kids? It's unclear in what context you're not being treated like an adult.

Do you dress like an adult? Act like one? Hold yourself like one? Just having a grad degree and paying your bills on time doesn't make you respectable in the eyes of society at large.

I think in general things are more casual than they were 20 or 30 years ago -- I still can't bring myself to call parents of childhood friends by their first names, even though I'm completely fine with addressing new acquaintances by first names now. And there is definitely a difference between the Midwest and the coasts. I grew up in Ohio and moved to Boston -- things are definitely more informal here.

So overall I'd say, calm down a bit. But, a few things I can think of:

(1) Do you have a trusted friend you could ask about this? Maybe it's something in your body language, or the way you speak?

(2) Do you smile often? I'm frequently told by coworkers that I "smile too much." They usually then go on to tell me it's probably because I'm "A Midwestern girl." This works two ways, though -- everyone perceives me as friendly and happy all the time, which gets annoying when I'm having a bad day and they keep telling me to "smile, hon"... BUT. When I really do get pissed off or really focused/serious about something, they notice it because it's such a contrast, and I really do feel like I get a lot of respect in those situations.
posted by olinerd at 11:08 AM on January 15, 2010


Seconding griphus -- How To Win Friends and Influence People is a must-read. It's old but it's timeless.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 11:10 AM on January 15, 2010


I agree with Professor Penguin that you are having a problem of perspective. When you were a child, it seemed like your father got a lot of respect because you were a child and gave him a lot of respect. When I was a kid, I was the quiet, bookish type, and would often be privy to adult conversations that lots of other kids missed. I have no illusions about my parent's generation or even my grandparent's generation.
posted by muddgirl at 11:11 AM on January 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


Society is changing in a lot of ways and this is a part of it. But also, your perceptions as a child were not necessarily accurate. I know I thought my father's indignant anger was very impressive until I started noticing a lot as an adult that other people were actually rolling their eyes at it when his back was turned. I stopped wanting to go anywhere with him because he was so impossible.

The world's changed. You don't sound like you lack respect at all. You just lack a marker that you've been using to symbolize respect. Unfortunately, at this point in modern culture, if you insist on being called Mr. Nymous, you're not going to get respect, you're going to get odd looks and snickers behind your back about being the guy who insists on being called Mr. Nymous.

I'm a midwesterner myself, and I do remember this growing up. A friend's parents would always be Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Now? I don't know when it changed, but that same friend's parents are now Jim and Sue. I don't feel differently towards them, but if I went back to calling them Mr. and Mrs. Smith, it would be seen as awkward and overly formal. You don't want to be the guy who insists on awkward and overly formal.
posted by larkspur at 11:11 AM on January 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


A friend's parents would always be Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Now? I don't know when it changed, but that same friend's parents are now Jim and Sue.

Nowadays, you can't always assume that a child's parents will have the same last name as the child, or the same last name as each other. It's much safer to avoid last names altogether.
posted by muddgirl at 11:13 AM on January 15, 2010


With respect, your desire for people to fear you when you're angry is disturbing. I read your attitude as 'I've been intimidated for too damn long, and now it's my turn to be the intimidator." Not real attractive, that.

To the extent that this is a cultural shift (which I think it mostly is), you can't do much of anything about it. I live in the midwest, and I rarely hear "Mr." pronounced out loud. If this is typical where you are too, then you have a certain amount of getting over it to do.

Your framing of negotiating power as being equivalent to the ability to hurt others also seems skewed. It's more pleasant, and more broadly accurate, to think of negotiation as arriving at an agreement that benefits both parties so that they're both better off than they would be if they refused the agreement. If you do that and are still not happy then you're as likely to have an 'unrealistic expectations' problem, a 'failure to accept reality' problem, or a 'chip on your shoulder' problem as you are to have a negotiation problem.

In my experience, you get respect by treating others respectfully. You don't get to be the adult that treats everyone else like children; you simply assume your place among other adults.
posted by jon1270 at 11:13 AM on January 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


Also: and that on the occasions when I get angry, people get scared and things get done fast.

Productivity and malicious compliance are sometimes hard to tell apart, and only one of them is endemic of getting yelled at.
posted by griphus at 11:15 AM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


@gabriel: "Anyway, the only people that get treated with respect everywhere they go basically get it by sending out strong intimidating signals at all times. I'm thinking of bald, muscular drill sergeant types and motorcycle gangsters with leather jackets, tattoos and chains. I guess a sort of Donald Trump attitude of walking around and just being a rude, forceful dick can accomplish the same in a less physical way."

That's not respect, that's fear; and someone walking around being physically intimidating OR being a dick is not going to receive respect from me -- more likely scorn.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:16 AM on January 15, 2010


Interesting question. I am the parent of three teenagers. I coach at least one team for each of my children. My daughter's teammates call me Mr. Gunn. My older son's teammates, the ones who I am the most serious with as it is a very competitive team to make, tried to call me Johnny. I insisted they call me either Coach, Coach Johnny, Coach Gunn or Mr. Gunn. Regardless of what they call me, I get the most respect from the team that wanted to call me Johnny and the least from my daughter's Mr. Gunn team.

In the rest of the world, I get called Mr. Gunn a lot by people who do not know me well or by service folks and Johnny (not John) by friends. I think A LOT has to do with the way you dress, comport yourself and respond the first time they call you something you don't like. Some people give off an easy going vibe. Some more serious.

When I meet someone for the first time, I introduce myself as "Johnny Gunn" never just "Johnny". I call people Mr. Whatever until they say, "Hey, Mr. Whatever is my Dad. Call me Joe."
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:18 AM on January 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


In short, I am an adult, but people don't treat me that way.

Do you know other people your age who get treated differently than you? If EVERYONE you know is being treated the same way, then it's not that you aren't being treated like "an adult", it's that you have unrealistic expectations of how adults should be treated.

If you DO know people who get treated like you think an adult should be treated, start acting more like them.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:19 AM on January 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


What you are talking about is what I call "Presence". It appears to mostly be a matter of people perceptions of you, which is largely based on how they percieve you percieve them-i.e. if you want to get respect you must give respect. Mostly this is about how much attention and intention you give something. The way to learn how to do this is watch people who get the kind of treatment you want and act like them. Although be aware of your outward appearance, as much as it shouldn't, it does matter. Overly casual attire or feminine (once again, assumign you are female) could hurt you in this area. Of course you are always going to to get assholes and good old boys who won't give a woman (I am guessing you are female from a portion of your question) respect outside of traditional women roles. I relocated from the great plains/southwest to the west coast (Oregon) and have noticed that in general things are much more informal here, so that could be part of it.
posted by bartonlong at 11:20 AM on January 15, 2010


Respect yourself, have a good sense of your own worth, and you'll stop caring so much about silly things like whether someone puts a "Mister" before your name. It has nothing to do with respect, just formality-- and formality is regional (and becoming more and more optional in this day and age.)

People who doubt their own self-worth or own sense of authority, and thus try too hard to get it from others, are easy to spot a mile away. It's a self-perpetuating cycle that undermines the very respect that you are trying to get. So work on feeling okay with who you are, and viewing yourself as an adult, and eventually other people will pick up on your self-assuredness. It might not mean they start being more formal with you, but they'll certainly respect you more.

BTW-- I think the only people you can demand address you in a formal way are people you are paying, and your children. Again, it doesn't mean they respect you.
posted by np312 at 11:21 AM on January 15, 2010


I am also a 30 year-old with all the trimmings you describe. I feel pretty valued in my personal and professional life, even though I'm just starting out in the latter. I'm surrounded by older, wiser people, so I defer to - and respect - their wisdom and experience for a lot of things. Sometimes I learn by their mistakes, sometimes I make my own.

Power, respect, etc. You learn it and earn it. You're not entitled to it because you survived grad school, your twenties, or any of that. olinerd poses some great questions above and I'd be interested to hear your answers.
posted by futureisunwritten at 11:22 AM on January 15, 2010


I agree with most of the posters above who are calling into question your general attitudes, but for what it's worth, one way to potentially get a greater amount of respect from the random people you encounter throughout the day is to dress really nicely. Wear suits and other business wear whenever possible, and make sure they're well tailored and look good on you. This means going to an actual tailor and spending a lot of money (though unless you really have the cash to throw around, you don't have to buy Gucci or anything).

Of course, the culture of San Francisco might be that wearing a suit everywhere will get you taken less seriously, not more. I can't tell for sure.
posted by Caduceus at 11:22 AM on January 15, 2010


A title isn't part of respect, attitude is. You want to project cool, calm, and collected. No one will take you seriously if you insist on out-of-place formality in daily life. Especially in California.
posted by shinyshiny at 11:23 AM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hopefully, you're getting the message here, because the responses are consistent--America simply does not do this anymore. The year is 2010, and we have abandoned most formalities that previously seemed sacrosanct.

O tempora! O mores!

If you've just turned 30 (and, might I add, are having a bit of a misplaced hissyfit over this), you're well and truly lucky people aren't calling you "son." You seem a little green to me, boy.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:24 AM on January 15, 2010 [18 favorites]


I work with a lot of people in their seventies and eighties, and I call them "Mr. Williams" or "Mrs. Cameron" until they say "Call me Jim/Rita." Sometimes they don't, and that's fine; I call them by the names they want to be addressed by. I think there's still a fair bit of that generational level of respect around, which may be what you feel you're missing.

A lifelong friend, who died in his eighties recently, was always Mr. Brown to me -- I'd known him since I was very small, and even after I was an adult and we could converse on a mutual level of equal respect, I still couldn't call him "Daniel" to his face, or even refer to him that way. It didn't feel right, although we were extremely close.

For another comparison, I call my dentist Dr. Dave and my doctor Dr. Steve, but that's partly because each of them works with a relative, so going to visit means you have to explain which one is which to the staff.
posted by vickyverky at 11:25 AM on January 15, 2010


I grew up in the Midwest, but now I live near San Francisco--is this just a consequence of me relocating?

I don't think it's a consequence of location, nor of anything about you personally; I think the culture (at least in the US) has shifted over time. I'm still in the midwest, white collar job at a Fortune 500 company, and first names are pretty much common practice even here, both internally and dealing with external partners. You could try "actually, I prefer to be called Mr. Nymous," or something like that, but that's likely to come off as needlessly formal these days.

As for expressing anger, there's a bit of an art to expressing anger in the business world without, say, raising your voice or swearing or the kind of things you'd do to express anger in other situations. It's much more subtle, but it's still there. Personally, I'm better at it in writing than in speech. Sentences become shorter, more clipped. You don't say that the other person is an idiot, no matter how much you're thinking it; rather you say that their repeated attempts have not yet resolved the issue, explain (very briefly, bordering on curt) how it's affecting your own work and the company. "This is unacceptable" is a sentence to use in extreme cases. It may sound mild, but calling something "unacceptable" in the business world is like calling it "complete shit" in other contexts.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:26 AM on January 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


You had an inflated idea of the power adults had over each other because, as a child, you were powerless.

Now you're adult, and you see how it really is/was.
posted by hermitosis at 11:26 AM on January 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Do you dress like an adult? Act like one? Hold yourself like one? Just having a grad degree and paying your bills on time doesn't make you respectable in the eyes of society at large.

This is a good point. When people meet you they can't know about your degrees and talents. They have to make a judgment about you based on the totality of your interaction. If you act immaturely or dress age-inappropriately then they are likely to conclude that you are, well, immature and inappropriate.

I mentioned my younger brother in a previous thread. He's a good example of this problem. Age 25, he has a degree from UC Berkeley and mistakenly considers himself to be a genius. He is smart, no doubt, but he basically can't get the work he'd like because he behaves and dresses like a 15 year old. You can tell within five minutes of meeting with him that you wouldn't want to hire or otherwise rely on him. Nobody calls him Mr. Samoza, you can be sure.

On preview, this is exactly correct:

In my experience, you get respect by treating others respectfully. You don't get to be the adult that treats everyone else like children; you simply assume your place among other adults.

posted by gabrielsamoza at 11:26 AM on January 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, anger is not as effective a tool as you seem to think. It's effective in getting some things done in the very short term, but it's also effective in getting people to yell right back at you, think you're crazy or irrational, do a half-assed job of what you want, or put bodily fluids in your lunch.

I have always been, and will always be, far more eager to assist someone who shows genuine appreciation for my work and time than someone who's known to yell and rage when they don't get what they want.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:27 AM on January 15, 2010


@Eyebrows I completely agree. I was responding to his understanding of respect, but I should have been more specific in saying I disagreed with that interpretation. Fear is not the same as respect.
posted by gabrielsamoza at 11:30 AM on January 15, 2010


Turn the question around - who do you treat like this? Analyse what characteristics they have that make you address them in that way.
posted by patricio at 11:34 AM on January 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is power--the capacity to hurt people, or at least deny them something they want--the key or only thing that I'm missing?

JESUS CHRIST NO. I mean, seriously, no.

I think you have some real issues that you want to work out. Your father sounds like a bully, and you sound disappointed that you can't bully other people now that you're 30.

I can guarantee you that if you tell people to call you "Mr. Jones" instead of "Joe" you will certainly make an impression on them, but that impression will be that you are a control freak and a self-important jerk.

I'm 45 and extremely forceful and I don't remember the last time anyone called me "Ms. Lastname" rather than by my first name. It's just not how most people in the US--especially on the coasts--roll these days.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:36 AM on January 15, 2010 [14 favorites]


I have an undergrad degree, a graduate degree, a job, and my own apartment. I pay all my own expenses. In short, I am an adult, but people don't treat me that way.

In this sentence you sound like a spoiled 18 year old from a family with money in Smallville, USA. Nobody cares what your degree or your fancy job or apartment, they have the same or better things. Nobody cares what your title is or addressing you as sir If you're an adult, then act like one and don't walk around with a chip on your shoulder, thinking the world owes you honorifics because you manage to get things which anybody in American can get.

While it was interesting and valuable, I concluded that I didn't really have a negotiation problem, but rather a power problem.

You always have the power to make someone's job miserable by not taking no for an answer and quietly persisting with your complaint. Persist, persist, persist and go into know you're going to persist.

And either way, how can I learn how to conduct myself as a person who is treated with respect everywhere?

I've found that learning the local customs and not thinking that I'm always right works wonders.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:41 AM on January 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


I occasionally (jokingly) refer to my friends as Mr/Miss Lastname. They frequently respond with "Missus" (I'm 21 and unmarried). We don't even know the correct titles to use.
posted by NoraReed at 11:41 AM on January 15, 2010


Another data point: I have a younger brother that's a rabbi. His job title commands respect, but he's found that this forced formality gets in the way of people actually talking with him honestly about their concerns and problems. So he relaxes the formality by referring to himself as "Rabbi Dan." When he wants/needs to be more respected, he can fall back on his more formal title, but he's found that most people respond much better to him on this more informal basis.
posted by mosk at 11:44 AM on January 15, 2010


You had an inflated idea of the power adults had over each other because, as a child, you were powerless.

Seconding this. I think there's a name for this, but I dont remember what its called. Its just something that happens in human relations. When youre low on the totem poll you overinflate the importance of those higher than you. You interpret everything as being part of the power they have over you. Later in life, you'll be that boss or manager or whomever and you'll find that the actual experience of being that position has little to do how you imagine it would be, and people will interpret many of your actions to be 'forceful' or 'angry' when they arent.

I remember when I was an intern and how I interacted with the guy who had my title. I remember seeing him as such an adult with all sorts of specialized knowledge. In reality, he was just a geeky guy that liked to work on computers and not really the stern authority figure I thought he was. The lesson I take from that now is that those above me arent how I interpret them. I can unclench and bend the rules without worrying too much. I also like to think as long as I dont act too unprofessional or too familiar, it puts them at ease that I'm at ease.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:48 AM on January 15, 2010


1. Respect and formality are not the same thing. If people started calling me "Mr. Dismukes" instead of "Tony", that wouldn't mean they respected me any more.

2. Respect has nothing to do with getting angry. That said, I will note that the less often you get angry, the more of an impact it makes when you do. People who know me know that it is very unsusual for me to act upset, raise my voice, or use harsh language. As a result, on those rare occasions when I do become visibly pissed off, they pay close attention. My friends who are more prone to random mood swings don't necessarily get so much of a reaction because everyone is used to them getting mad.

3. The ability to hurt others is not the only kind of power, and in fact I would say it is the least important kind of power. Destruction is always easier than creation, so really almost anyone has the ability to do significant harm to others if they are willing to deal with the consequences. The more important forms of power are the ability to help others and the ability to accomplish things for yourself.

4. When I think of the people in my life that I respect most, their ability to inflict harm is never a positive consideration. I respect those who consistently treat others well. I respect those who are true to their beliefs, even in the face of adversity. I respect those who are willing to honestly question themselves and admit when they're wrong. I respect those who don't give up on achieving difficult things. I respect those who give respect to others.
posted by tdismukes at 11:53 AM on January 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think a big part of it is cultural shift, as many have already said.

Do you dress like an adult?

I think this another potential biggie. People simply don't dress up for anything anymore, from grade school on up to aging baby boomers. I'm a 35-year old jeans & t-shirt sort of person a lot of the time, but thanks to lodge meetings I usually put on a suit once or twice a month - if I should happen to do an errand or two on the way to a meeting, I'm always struck by how much more often I get called 'sir'. I'm not quite ready to be the eccentric guy who always goes into town in a 3 piece suit, but being nicely dressed in a culture where people where pajama pants to the grocery store does seem to give you an edge.

Of course, the culture of San Francisco might be that wearing a suit everywhere will get you taken less seriously, not more. I can't tell for sure.

It's all about attitude and self-confidence, like wearing fedoras and bow ties - you walk a fine line between "yeah, I dress like this and don't particularly care what you think, because it looks good and I'm comfortable with it" and "Hey, look at me! I'm the guy that wears a suit everywhere! Aren't I anachronistic?"

Also echoing what other people have said: Intimidation isn't the same as respect.
posted by usonian at 11:59 AM on January 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am a few years younger than you, but in the same generation, and live in the south, where formal manners are maybe *too* big of a concern sometimes. I grew up calling adults Mr./Ms. until they told me otherwise. However, even as a teen in the late '90s/early 2000s, when I worked for businessmen in their offices, I always called them by first name, and so did everyone else.

I mean, we grew up in the '80s and '90s, not the '50s. Things were already moving in a more casual direction back then. Kids called adults Mr./Ms. unless corrected, but parents, even ones who weren't well acquainted called each other by first name.

I personally hate titles. I've had jobs where I had to take phone calls from people I didn't know and sometimes you can't tell what gender someone is by their name and voice, which makes for awkward times when expected to refer to them as Mr. or Ms. X. Not to mention that old ladies often get offended if you call them Ms. instead of Mrs., as if you should psychically know that they are married. In today's world where a lot of interactions with strangers take place, titles can add a lot of stress and confusion to the mix.
posted by ishotjr at 11:59 AM on January 15, 2010


Oh, and I'm guessing if you come from a traditional place that your dad was married and had kids and a house (not an apartment) with a yard and a lawnmower all that stereotypical dad shit by the time he was 30. It's less common for 30-year-olds to be settled down today. People treat you older when you have a family, it's just a fact of life. I think people with kids often act a little older because they have more responsibility and stress.
posted by ishotjr at 12:03 PM on January 15, 2010


Just a data point: The one person I know who regularly calls me "Miss," outside of service people and those phoning me for business, is the one person I most wish would stop it.
posted by limeonaire at 12:06 PM on January 15, 2010


In terms of title, if you insist on referring to your interlocutor as Mr/Miss/Ms/Mrs X without sounding like a kid then they're likely to reciprocate (or at worst you'll force the situation to become explicit).

In terms of genuine respect, anger is NOT the key. Rather, you should express, clearly and unambiguously, that you are not happy without acting as though you can't keep the lid on your biochemistry. You may get your own way by losing your temper, but nobody will respect you.

If you're talking about people you'll only deal with once in life, in theory you can rant and rave until you get your way. I feel it looks better on paper but in fact it's a bad habit to get into and cheapens you.

On review of your question, if you wish this social stuff to be resolved before conversation opens, dress like your grandad would have... otherwise reconcile yourself to the fact that society has changed since you were wee.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 12:16 PM on January 15, 2010


I don't think it's good to want people to be scared of you, and perhaps they weren't afraid of the older people you mentioned, either - it was more that they had already established that they were to be taken seriously and did not get angry unless there was good reason, and when they did, it indicated seriousness and purpose, not emotionally flying off the handle. I wonder if what caused them to show anger was a problem of efficiency; someone is wasting their time, and they won't let that happen.

My perception is that the biggest factor is, how do you value your time? How much of it is available? If you are the type of employee who happily accepts any kind of project or extra work without complaint or regard to the impact it has on your schedule, you are likely to be taken less seriously. Whereas you will be taken more seriously if you come off as the type who has a clear idea of how much of your time is available and how much can be allocated to projects. You know what your skills are and your job requirements, and if people try and push off work onto you that is below your skill level and is the domain of another employee, you don't just go along with it, there has to be a good reason. You are ready to (politely but firmly) push back against others who want more of your time than you're willing or able to give, because you've already scheduled much of it according to what you have determined are the real priority tasks.

Fundamentally you value yourself and recognize that your time is a limited and valuable resource, and you decide how to spend it instead of letting others decide for you. Don't be emotional about it, it just is. So if you're in, say, a customer service situation where something isn't getting done reasonably efficiently or you're given the runaround, this is a problem because it's taking up your time and your time is valuable. If someone calls you up and asks you to do something, you don't just say, whenever you want - you decide according to what days you have free and how much time you're willing to spend. (Be cool to your real friends though! don't do that to them!) No need to intimidate people; the bottom line is, you have your own priorities and others should respect them, instead of being able to impose on you. And a lot of minor annoyances are not worth the time to get angry about, and getting angry and lording it over people simply to look important is the worst, and ridiculous - for instance, if your flight is delayed, the people at the service desk can't help it, be cool.

This is probably a very East Coast POV, of course, I don't really live this way but I try and see things this way in work situations, such as turning down freelance writing projects if they don't pay enough to be worth my time, or charging a certain rate because that's how much my time is worth, and not accepting less. At my job, unless there is a real all-hands-on-deck crisis, emphasizing that others should finish their part of a task and I'll do mine - I won't use my time to clean up anyone else's shoddy work, or let others pretend there's a crisis and freak out in order to impose on my time and priorities.
posted by citron at 12:21 PM on January 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do you want to be well-respected, or do you want people scared of you? Because it's almost always one or the other you can have. Never both.
posted by Windigo at 12:25 PM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's an interesting question because while I am 42 and married and still refer to my parents' friends as Mr. and Mrs. Adult, I really would be uncomfortable with a child calling me Mrs. Otherwordlyglow. It's just not me. I also live in the Bay Area and grew up in the Midwest and there are definitely differences in the two cultures (if you can really call them that) though mostly I think it's just a different era entirely.

I'm not sure that just because people don't refer to you as Mr. Anoymous they don't respect you. This is one of those instances where actions speak louder than words.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 12:41 PM on January 15, 2010


Respect is earned, not taken. Any attempt to take it will diminish your odds of earning it.

Anger is rarely effective. It has no place in professional contexts. Demonstrations of anger reduce your odds of earning respect.

Serious people who act respectful and are emotionally mature will be taken seriously.
posted by yesster at 12:52 PM on January 15, 2010


There are some good points here about perseverance, behaviour and attitude.

Another data point for you to consider: in my experience, people who don't respect you at work or in other aspects of life:
a) are usually too wrapped up in their own insecurities to look outwards to the people they interact with, or
b) have an overinflated sense of their own self-importance, which they want you to mirror back to them, or
c) have some weird ideological blind spot like sexism, racism or some other -ism that prevents them from having respect for you.

It is therefore nothing to do with you but rather everything to do with them.

Conversely, some people will appear to lavish you with respect because they want something from you.

If you can remember that, it will help a lot. Sometimes, you don't want other people's "respect".
posted by LN at 12:57 PM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are very few people who are ever addressed by title anymore. These are generally limited to your children's teachers (Mr/Ms/Mrs Smith) and your doctor (Dr. Smith) and your priest (Fr./Rev/Pastor Smith). There are certain people in the hierarchy of my organization and others we deal with who are referred to by title, and this comes across as strange to me, and I think it's in part because I work someplace that has a long institutional memory. If we tore everything down and restarted from scratch, those forms of address, even when referencing those remote figures in the hierarchy, wouldn't be used, I think (and when people of my generation replace them, I think that will change).

That is, the reason I didn't get the best deal possible wasn't because I needed what they were offering more than they needed what I was offering--i.e., they could hurt me more than I could hurt them

That's a function of what you were negotiating over, and you have control over what transactions you are going to engage in and how much power you're going to have. If you're negotiating from a position of weakness, then your choice is either to accept that or leave the negotiation and only come back when you have more relative power.
posted by deanc at 1:15 PM on January 15, 2010


Conversely, some people will appear to lavish you with respect because they want something from you.

This. You want to be addressed with respect and called "Mr. So-and-So?" Walk into a pricey men's suit store. You'll get respect not because you are a powerful, mature adult, but because the prospect of your spending upwards of $1000 is a real possibility they're hoping you follow through with.
posted by deanc at 1:17 PM on January 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


IMHO, turn 40.

Since (rampant generalization here) today people in their 20s are "failing to launch" and generally act like teens did in the 70s and 80s, they aren't being taken seriously until they get older. I'm just about to turn 40 and this seems extremely likely to be the case.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 1:26 PM on January 15, 2010


30 is a kid, punk. ;-)

Here's an older person's advice. You're given the respect you give.
posted by xammerboy at 1:40 PM on January 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do you dress like an adult?

I've found personally that I get more respect from strangers when I'm wearing a tie. But I know what you mean, my Dad has an adult Presence that I've never managed to emulate 100% -- and I'll be 56 in a few days!

Back in the mid-80s there was talk about 'power clothing' related to the Dress For Success books, which interested me since at that time, I was an engineer who could've easily transitioned into management. (One of the rules I adapted was, never wear Dilbert-style short-sleeve collared shirts -- if it's too hot, a Power Person rolls up his sleeves. Another artifact of this was the yellow, patterned Power Tie -- is this expression still in use?)

Another book suggestion -- What Makes Sammy Run?
posted by Rash at 1:55 PM on January 15, 2010


In my experience, it's a California thing and a progress thing.

I am 40. I work in a medical research group with a lot of M.D.s and Ph.D.s in Los Angeles. I have a high level job here but am neither a Ph.D. or an M.D. Everyone calls me Sophie and I call everyone by their first name, MD or not.

Wanting people to call you Mr. X sounds mighty insecure. I don't need (or want) anyone to call me Ms. 1, I know people respect my work without the Ms. in front of my name.

The more you need people to give you the appearance of respect, rather than actual respect, the more you'll continue to feel like a tall kid. I'm also going to agree that managing your relationships with fear rather than respect is a really bad way of going through life. I had a boss once when I was a kid who wanted to be called Mr. X and managed by humiliation. He wasn't respected one bit. We all thought he was a bit sad and scary.

I think, in my humble opinion, that perhaps when you feel some respect for yourself, you won't need what you think is respect from outside of yourself.
posted by Sophie1 at 2:22 PM on January 15, 2010


Respect is a concept entirely unrelated to the honorific prepended to your name or how much you scare people.

Act like an adult and you'll be treated like one. Respect others and be respected. It's that easy -- there's more 'self' to this than you seem to give credit.
posted by wrok at 2:28 PM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'll be the lone dissenter and say that respect pretty much really is fear; at least, fear is an essential component of real respect. Even Wikipedia gets it: Respect, and outward signs of respect, are used in hierarchical organizations to reinforce values of obedience and submission.

The kind of respect these milquetoasts are talking about might be more appropriately described as 'admiration', and it works out fine so long as they agree with everything you say. Once they disagree, the whining starts, the admiration falls to 'reasonable regard' and suddenly nobody's listening to you anymore because you've 'changed' or 'I guess my first impressions were wrong' or 'who knew x was really like that?". If, on the other hand, people admire you and have cause to fear your wrath, that's respect.

I would never have said to my father "With respect, Dad..." and then disagree with him, and I don't think you would have either. I love and admire him more for being a strong figure, not less.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:31 PM on January 15, 2010


A key part of that definition: in hierarchical organizations

For many of us, life is not a series of contests to determine our position in a hierarchical organization. When dealing with us, chest beating and gutteral vocalizations will be met with temporary obedience at best to get the problem out of our sights as quickly as possible.
posted by muddgirl at 2:38 PM on January 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


You want to be addressed with respect and called "Mr. So-and-So?" Walk into a pricey men's suit store. You'll get respect not because you are a powerful, mature adult, but because the prospect of your spending upwards of $1000 is a real possibility they're hoping you follow through with.

Or they'll ignore you, because they can immediately read (or at least think they can read) in your manner and bearing that you're someone who in no way plans to spend $1,000 on a suit.
posted by limeonaire at 2:45 PM on January 15, 2010


If, on the other hand, people admire you and have cause to fear your wrath, that's respect.

Wow, I could not possibly agree less.

Some people just love bullies, I guess. Bullying is not, in my view, a sign of strength--it's a sign of weakness and/or mental instability.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:10 PM on January 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


The kind of respect these milquetoasts are talking about might be more appropriately described as 'admiration', and it works out fine so long as they agree with everything you say.

Yeah, that's a load of malarkey. I can absolutely respect a person and disagree with them entirely. It has more to do with how they present their arguments than what they're saying.

Fear hasn't a thing to do with it -- I think fear and respect are conflated on a regular basis, particular in "hierarchical" environments like the military, law enforcement, etc.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 4:03 PM on January 15, 2010


This is just an aside, but in your speaking manner, does your sentences rise at the end? Like you're asking a question? Even when it's a statement? In a high-rising terminal?

I know a surprising number of 30-plus people who do this, and to me it always sounds as if they're unsure of themselves.
posted by bunji at 4:14 PM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


power--the capacity to hurt people, or at least deny them something they want-

That's not power, that's manipulation, and it doesn't earn respect but resentment.

Your father was a man born from a very different generation. We don't revere our elders here simply on the base of them being older, and we rarely stand on ceremony in the U.S., let alone CA specifically. I don't live in CA, but the times I've been there it seems very much like FL to me in that people are relaxed in their address. This does not signify disrespect but openness, to me.

The way to negotiate effectively is to go in with your facts straight, your logic impeccable, and your determination unrelenting. You know what you want and how much it is worth. You persist, politely and firmly, up the pecking order until you get what you want, because your reasoning is sound.

By the way, you say you didn't have the upper hand in one negotiation because they had something you needed, so you didn't have any leverage. But there is almost always competition, and you can make it clear that you are perfectly willing to go to the competition for a better deal. Do they want to lose you as a customer, or just knock off a few bucks to better the competition's price and get the sale? This tactic has worked for me when I've made it clear that I know the name, make and model of a product I want and that I'd just as soon get it at my regular store, but if they can't give me the best deal I'll just go down the street or online.

Here's what does earn my respect:

Treating others with courtesy. This includes wait staff, servers, everyone, not just people who have what you want or people you want to impress.
Dealing with me honestly.
Not going off in a rage when a problem does come up, but working toward an equitable solution.
posted by misha at 4:30 PM on January 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm older than you by 21 years. My take on it is that culture is much more informal than it used to be.

The advantage is when you get to my age, 50 really is the new 30.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:48 PM on January 15, 2010


Data point: I'm in my 40's, and I refer to my parent's friends as Mr or Ms X, until they correct me...but my parents friends are in their 60's and 70s...and even corrected, Mrs. Anderson becomes Ms Violet. (Deep South, doncha know.)

I've raised my son to say Yes sir and Yes Maam, rather than "yeah", because I think it's more polite, and he refers to my friends as either Miss Donna or Mr. Bob (Although most of them are Aunt Donna and Uncle Bob) unless they tell him not to, and then he's allowed to call them by their proper name.

My doctor is still Dr Lastname, but my dentist is Bob...possibly because my doctor is 60 and my dentist is 30...and my dentist asked me to call him Bob.

My point is this; you are assigning a cultural norm that probably doesn't exist anymore, and even when you were young, probably only existed in pockets of the country.

Referring to a 30 year old as Mr. X would probably not occur to anyone in your age demographic, or anyone significantly older than your demographic, and wouldn't even be considered by someone significantly younger unless you're a teacher.

Honorific titles are hardly ever used in spoken American vernacular. (I find that England, Holland, Germany and other Northern European countries are more formal than America.)

That said; an honorific is not necessarily a badge of respect, and I'm fairly sure that if you insisted on people using Mr. Lastname instead of Firstname, they would do it, but they'd think you were a bit of a prat.
posted by dejah420 at 7:13 PM on January 15, 2010


I'm 30; I get called Mr. Klangston—well, not really, as that would be weird. They use my real last name—all the time.

I mostly get called mister by essentially anonymous customer service folk, people who I only interact with over the telephone. I tend to be more formal then, and they can't tell what I'm wearing. I also get called mister by other formalized systems—police, court, etc. Oh, and by strangers who I don't know.

One tip: Grow a beard. I get three times as many misters with it as without.

But we live in informal times, dude. I mean, do you know how to properly adjust your trousers, seat a lady, or the etiquette of hat wearing? It rarely, if ever, comes up.

(As for all the other power stuff? See a therapist.)
posted by klangklangston at 8:07 PM on January 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I know a mid-30s guy who's got a short man complex and bullies servers and other people in positions where they have to take it. His MO is that he points out some small service error, says crap like "We can do this the hard way, or we can do this my way," takes the issue up the management food chain, etc. Eventually people start groveling and calling him "Mr. Blowhard." Pretty soon free drinks/deserts ensue (or another whatever is delivered) and Blowhard has another war story about how he prevailed over incompetence and everyone realized he was right and showed him respect. However, it's obvious that the victims start with the Mr. Blowhard routine just because it's an easy way to make him stop so everyone can move on with their lives and salvage the tips from the other tables. It works because Blowhard equates the "Mr." title with respect, but really he's just a jerk people will address in a faux-subservient way just so he'll go away because dealing with him is an annoying cost of doing business. Don't be that guy.
posted by carmicha at 8:22 PM on January 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


A note from another SF area resident - don't take the suit advice. Dressing *a little bit* over average looks nice; dressing overly formally looks weird, or pretentious, or whatever. If you're looking to give off an 'eccentric' air you can get away with it, but I don't get the feeling that's what you're going for. Dressing nicely can help you out though. Oh, and I don't know your gender - you say you want people to call you 'Mr' and then refer to being called 'honey' a lot, which point in different directions. So just in case, let me clarify that by 'nicely' I mean 'professionally' - no cleavage (or not much), etc.

Also, I don't know any adults who call each other Mr and Mrs. I imagine parents and teachers would use them in front of their kids to model appropriate behavior (as mine did, and probably would have done with a coach or scoutmaster as well), but where I work last names only come out when you're distinguishing between two people with the same first. And then it's "Ano Nymous said..." not "Mr. Nymous". The Germans I work with use titles, though, and that's just about the only reason I would use them - if I were talking to someone who clearly thought it was appropriate and used them for me. And I'd think they were a bit odd.
posted by Lady Li at 10:49 PM on January 15, 2010


Wow, I could not possibly agree less. Some people just love bullies, I guess.

You haven't thought about this very hard, have you? Here's an example: people in my team fear that if they belittle, demean or harass their peers, I will fucking crucify them. They respect me for this hardline approach, and consistently praise it in my 360o feedback. It separates me from my colleagues, who are liked, even admired, but not feared, and thus not respected (as is consistently reported in their feedback). The OP has it in the post heading: "effective anger" is necessary for being taken seriously when push comes to shove.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:12 AM on January 16, 2010


It's not about what you have, it's about what you do. If you want to be treated like an adult you have to behave like one. For example

- using your copious knowledge in a useful way
- being helpful
- knowing when to shut up
- taking responsibility for your actions
- taking responsibility for your life
- taking on responsibility for other things: running something, organising something...
- cleaning up your own mess
- not whinging and moaning about things instead of sorting them out
- having a sense of your own boundaries
- treating other people with respect
- being on time
- getting the job done, not complaining that it didn't get done because of someone else's mistakes.

If you earn people's trust and respect, and they learn that if you're angry that's because something is really seriously wrong and needs sorting urgently, then people will start taking notice when you are angry.

If you want to be referred to as Mr So-and-so, you'll have to go and live in Asia, where that's still a normal mode of address.
posted by emilyw at 5:57 AM on January 16, 2010


Move to Germany. Everyone will call you "Mr." here, or, rather, "Herr". Everything else is considered rude if you're talking to strangers, at least when you're over 30. Added bonus: the "Sie" (an additional form of polite address used among strangers and colleagues).

I believe that these formalities do, in fact, lead to people talking each other more seriously. Unfortunately, they also lead to people taking themselves much more seriously.
posted by The Toad at 6:19 AM on January 16, 2010


The OP has it in the post heading: "effective anger" is necessary for being taken seriously when push comes to shove.

People tend to give signs of respect to others who get things done, and to people who are assholes. The fact that at your place of business someone who is feared/assholish gets things done does not make fear/assholishness a necessary component of respect. Your personal experience is not the experience of everyone.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:20 AM on January 16, 2010


You haven't thought about this very hard, have you?

Way to prove my point. I disagree with you; you suggest that I haven't thought about this very hard.

I assure you that I have thought about it extremely hard.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:34 PM on January 16, 2010


Another way to think about this might be to think of increasing your status relative to those you want to be respected by. I don't mean status as in being rich, or the top of your profession (although those would help) but something that's harder to pin down.

If you look at any two people together you can probably guess pretty accurately who is higher status and who is lower - it's a mixture of factors such as body language, clothing, eye contact, how they speak to each other, relative confidence, professional/personal relationship, physical size, etc.

It's something I've worked on in acting classes as the relative statuses of characters, and how these are changed by events, is a big factor in a play and how we view it. Keith Johnstone in Impro has an interesting chapter on the subject. There might be some good clues in there as to how people are perceived as higher or lower status, and what little things you could do to improve yours.
posted by fabius at 1:41 PM on January 16, 2010


Several days late, but I like this thread, so here are my 2 cents...

You are unlikely to change the attitudes of adults around you over whom you have no power through fear or intimidation. At best, they will humor you. At worst, you will get laughed at or set yourself up for some passive aggressive responses that are going to produce worse outcomes than the initially perceived lack of respect that you're talking about. You can not change this without, as some commenters discussed, changing your apparent social position relative to the people who you normally deal with.

Observe the byplay between sidhedevil and obiwanwasabi (no offense to the parties cited). One seems to come from the position of dealing with fully empowered peers, and the other from a position of dealing with juveniles/ subordinates in a supervisory capacity. Different modes of behavior are appropriate in each situation, and your ability to set the terms of interaction therefore also vary. Unless you feel like joining the military or coaching high school football, you are not likely to be able to force other people to do anything that they don't want to do.

I can sympathize with your frustration in some ways because I went from position of having some degree of formal power over those around me to not having that power any more, and had to adjust to people treating me differently--the fact that I'm a 25 year old who still gets carded for rated R movies probably doesn't help. Get over it. If you look like a 'tall kid' then that's how you're going to be treated, initially. Sucks to be you. If you act like a tall kid by throwing a temper tantrum when you don't get treated with the respect you want, I don't think it's really going to help your cause. Save anger for times when you have a legitimate reason to be angry, not because the world isn't living up to your expectations.

Certainly, you can take steps to increase your apparent confidence, but you'd do better if you started to actively plan to achieve your goals (i.e. do some research and know what the going rate is for a given service) rather than trying to intimidate your way to them. I find that I can act more confidently when I know what it is that I want, what the price is going to be, and what the options are for getting it. You become more aggressive when you have this sort of information to act on, but it's not based on a desire to make other people afraid, but rather, your confidence and knowledge in whatever it is that you're confident and knowledgeable about. Long term, that's the better habit to cultivate than adopting a set of behaviors that may not be consistent with your appearance and mannerisms.

Or maybe you can join a gang, get some rockin' tats (or whatever the kids are calling them these days), and go to prison. When you get out, you might have a better chance of intimidating someone.
posted by _cave at 3:52 PM on January 18, 2010


In the words of Barney Stinson: suit up!
posted by teraspawn at 2:22 PM on January 19, 2010


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