Loss of respect can inhibit a person's ability to cultivate intimacy in relationships, to engage in productive business dealings, and to lead a team or organization. Respect, in this instance, speaks to the worth we ascribe to a person or our perception of her quality level and abilities. Our own words and actions or even the unjustified slur of an opponent can damage people's perception of us. We can regain respect, however, with patience and diligence.
Listen to the concerns of others, and offer concrete and specific apologies when warranted. Most people will be patient with others when they perceive genuine remorse. Everyone makes mistakes. Depending on the severity of the instance that provoked the loss of respect, most people can be moved toward a compassionate response that affords a person a chance to rebuild his reputation by sincere contrition. It's common for an offended person to feel he is owed an apology. Giving that apology can jump-start the process toward regaining respect. Withholding it guarantees the process won't get off the ground.
Admit your mistakes, and present a plan to rectify the situation. Our mistakes can cause others to lose respect for us. Dodging responsibility or engaging in inappropriately defensive behavior will exacerbate the problem. Put the brakes on the damage by admitting your responsibility or your portion of it. Get the momentum headed in the other direction to regain respect by putting forward a set of action steps that be taken to rectify the error or minimize the damage. Take personal responsibility to see that these steps are taken and plans are executed. Summarize what you learned from the mistake and what steps you will take to ensure it isn't repeated.
Agree to reasonable terms and conditions that are necessary to regain respect. It may be reasonable for a spouse, for instance, to have access to her husband's computer passwords and text messages. In a professional situation, it may be reasonable to acquiesce to a boss's demands for more frequent updates, detailed reports or direct involvement. View these things less as intrusions and more as opportunities to rebuild trust and regain respect.
Commit to the long term, and strive for consistency. A reputation may be built over a lifetime but destroyed in one minute. Rebuilding trust and regaining respect may take time. It will certainly require a new track record of consistency. A person can do further damage to his reputation and lose even more respect if he fails to appreciate this. He must be willing to earn back respect rather than expect it to be hastily given.
Manage the perceptions. In his book "Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun," Wess Roberts comments that perception is often more important than reality. It's important to be a person of integrity, and the aforementioned suggestion is not to be taken as license to scheme or deceive. Rather, a person must make sure that her case is clearly stated and that participants have as many of the facts as possible. A balance must be struck between worrying over the opinions of others and managing perceptions. It cannot be ignored, however, that if misperceptions are allowed to persist unchecked, they will undermine a person's ability to regain respect.