Respect is an important component in any mutually beneficial relationship whether it is marital, friendship, family or business. Fortunately, you have the power to build respect by the way in which you conduct your life.

Ask yourself, Whose opinions do I value most? The people you love, or those for whom you feel a sense of respect? We can love people without respecting them. But we are less likely to listen to them, take their advice, and to highly regard and honor their viewpoints if we don't respect them.

Take a quick inventory of the people in your life you respect. Now analyze why you respect them. I would venture to say they probably share many of the following characteristics:

1. They keep their word. They are honorable, dependable, trustworthy people who don't lie, even if the truth is sometimes hard to hear. They don't cheat or steal in their business or personal lives. Their word is their bond, so they don't make promises lightly and will spare no effort to fulfill their commitments.

2. They practice restraint. They don't lose their tempers, scream, yell or strike out against others when things aren't going their way. They don't over-indulge in alcohol, gambling or exhibit other obsessive behaviors. And when the inevitable negative things in life happen to them, they maintain a positive outlook, knowing that our peace and joy are determined by how we handle both.

3. They guide, teach and lead by example. They have an innate sense of right and wrong and always strive to stay on the proper side of "right." They keep their egos in check and while they may be self-assured, they are not self-centered. They are confident without being "cocky," and seem to have a healthy sense of their place in the universe. And while they may not be overtly religious, their spirituality is still evident. They know there is a God and they are not him!

4. They don't give up easily. They are not afraid of failure and have the courage and stamina to keep doing what they know is right, even if it is unpopular or not immediately successful. They don't let fear dictate their actions and they don't allow setbacks to halt their progress.

5. They admit when they are wrong. They take responsibility for their actions and don't try to blame others or the circumstances. They forgive easily and say, "I'm sorry" just as easily.

6. They show compassion and respect for others. They know how to "agree to disagree," and even if someone's behavior is not worthy of respect, they find a way to share their wisdom without demeaning the other person.

7. They never stop learning. They aren't lazy and will continually strive to keep themselves up-to-date on current events, technology, changes within their field and other activities that may interest them. Consequently, their wisdom comes from knowledge and experience among multiple topics and is therefore fresh, well-informed and contemporary. While education/experience from years ago may still be relevant, knowing that they don't "rest on their laurels" imparts a deeper level of believability and enhances their reliability.

8. They have their priorities in the right order. They are hard workers, but their jobs do not rule their lives and neither does their quest for money. They know that money doesn't make people happy and they strive to cultivate rich, nurturing and loyal relationships, which are more important to them than bank accounts. Whether they are wealthy or have limited financial resources, they cherish and appreciate the real assets of their lives — blessings that no amount of money can buy.