I'm a 5 ft 110 lb hispanic female. I'm just a student but I do make an effort to look professional. But, people still don't seem to take me seriously. I always find myself being talked down to or lectured. So my question is what makes people respect other people? Is it power and societal positions? What can I do to make myself seem more solid? Thanks.
You are at a disadvantage at several levels here.
Despite the fact that most advice given in this thread is good and useful.
Let's start from the top.5 ft
To put it crudely.... you are short.
Which makes it easier, also psychologically, for people to simply not look at you.
And you are at a disadvantage when it comes to eye contact.
THEY have to look down, and YOU have to look up. That have subconscious implications on both sides.Hispanic
You belong to a minority. And let's face it. Hispanics are traditionally seen as socially inferior.
They are maids, gardeners.... Illegal immigrants.
That alone would put you in a disadvantage professionally.
Never mind the idea that there is equality between genders. It's something that look good on paper, but ONLY on paper.
The real world is somewhat different.Student
Well.... you are a STUDENT.
What the heck do you know?
Doesn't matter that you are more knowledgeable than a seasoned professional. You are a student, and they don't have to listen until you have a diploma. And even then there is a pecking order of seniority.
What can you do about this?
Because it is a result of a number of factors, and you'll have to fight several preconceptions.
1. Be PROFESSIONAL. At all times. Chatter is something that takes place during breaks.
Not saying that you should be a stiff stickler, but when you work, you work. That alone will earn you some respect.
Of course there should be room for a casual conversation, but make sure that, unless someone comes to you in distress, the time is "right" for that with the person in question. And keep it short.
2. Don't giggle. Sounds strange, but don't. If something is funny... laugh. Don't giggle. Giggling is for girls, and you have to present yourself as a woman. A professional woman.
Chuckling is good too. Don't roar in laughter... keep it at a reasonable level.
Roaring often displays either insecurity or lack of self control.
3. Make sure that people you talk to have eye contact with you. Ignore the fact that you have to look up and they have to look down. That goes away if your gaze is confident and steady enough. Don't stare... but have a firm and steady gaze.
The right kind of eye contact can make a 5 footer seem 8 feet tall in the eyes of others.
4. Don't weave. When/if you have to present something, have ALL facts and ALL arguments set out in your mind and on paper first. Make sure that each presentation is a firm and professional presentation.
Also having all the facts and all the arguments will increase your self confidence.
Don't get sidetracked...
Should something surprise you or should you get an unexpected question, an "I'll look into that and get back to you asap." is far better than insecurity and evasions. And much better than half an answer that might be wrong.
5. Be pleasant. Don't get agitated. Don't get angry no matter what kind of shit people throw at you. It's not just children that test the limits of others. We all do it. All through our lives.
Don't let people get a rise out of you. If you have to, take a short walk, where you can be certain no one you know can see you, and then "kick a tree". That works wonders, gets the frustration and aggression out of your system, and let you return to your job with a more stable and calm mind.
"Kick a tree" can be anything that works for you.
6. Don't expect people around you to be your friends. They might be or become, but it is just as likely that they wont, and that you will just experience a good working relationship. It is possible to work with people that absolutely disgust you, as long as you keep a professional attitude.
7. Be honest about yourself TO yourself. You know your limits, others think they do. So be honest to yourself first, and then let others see and feel what you think is prudent.
8. Don't raise your voice. Keep a firm check on your temper. Raising your voice indicates that you are insecure.
If anything... lower your voice. Both pitch and volume. That will force people to listen more carefully to you, and is a better way of getting their undivided attention.
Once they start respecting you professionally, it's easier for them to respect you as a person.