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Dirty Looks and How To Throw Them: Earning Respect and Setting Boundaries |

Dirty Looks and How to Throw One: Earning Respect & Setting Boundaries

Adventures in Living a Healthy, Juicy Life

by Cheryl Ragsdale

Cheryl Ragsdale throwing a dirty look

Cheryl Ragsdale throwing a dirty look

Giving someone a dirty look – by that I mean the kind of look that stops people in their tracks when they’re doing something or saying something disrespectful to you.  Dirty looks are a natural response to being disrespected.

Lately, I’ve been noticing people allowing themselves to be diminished or invalidated – meaning walked on like a doormat – by others. I find that upsetting.

It’s so easily handled when you know how to throw a dirty look effectively.  Dirty looks require practice, good timing and the willingness to back up your look with strong words, if necessary. Really effective dirty looks require no words at all. People recognize their error and back down. Isn’t that how it works when someone throws you a dirty look?


Establishing Boundaries

We use dirty looks to issue a warning and establish boundaries.  We all know someone who gets treated like this hapless lass in this cartoon:

Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Cyanide & Happiness @

The trouble is, when you let someone get away with treating you that way once, they do it over and over again.



-  a feeling or attitude of admiration and deference toward somebody or something

-  to pay attention to and refrain from violating something

-  to show consideration or thoughtfulness in relation to somebody or something

-  to value, have reverence for or hold a high opinion of

-  to admire

Removing people from my life who are disrespectful to me has been one of the most difficult and most rewarding habits I’ve taken on in my quest to “Stay Young – from the Inside Out”.  It takes something to stand up to people.

Habit #38: Say NO, when you mean NO.


Earning Respect

Here’s another example of being disrespected from

“At work today, I was watering the office plants when I looked inside the dirt pot. I found a key ring, a piece of gum, an empty Mountain Dew bottle and a business card inside. It was my business card. I’m dumbemployed.”

Who put my business card in the flower pot?

Who put my business card in the flower pot?

How do we earn respect from others?

  • vanquishing foes
  • winning
  • losing bravely
  • getting the job done well
  • overcoming the odds
  • doing the best we can
  • being responsible for putting our best foot forward
  • fighting for what we believe in
  • NOT tolerating being dishonored or shamed
Who is messing with my girl?

Are you messing with my girl?

Another question to ask is: Are you disrespecting yourself? Do you make promises that you fail to keep?  Do you say you’ll do something and then fail to perform –  no show or accidentally forget?  You reap what you sow.  Start with yourself. Where’s your pride? Self-respect is honoring to yourself and to the people around you. If you want respect, be the person “we can set a clock by”.


Introducing the Experts

Here’s the good news and the bad news. The good news is that it’s not hard to set good boundaries. The bad news is the responsibility for setting boundaries rests entirely with you. No one is going to do it for you. When you respect yourself, other people will respect you too. When you stand up for yourself, other people will stand up for you too. But, no one will fight your battles for you.

girls mean 325 219x300 Dirty Looks and How to Throw One: Earning Respect & Setting BoundariesMore bad news – like attracts like – if you disrespect others, others will disrespect you too.  Hey, what goes around, comes around.

Not sure what to do when someone is being disrespectful? Like any other habit, standing up for yourself must be practiced on a regular basis. Practice setting and maintaining good boundaries.

Every person in the world has a version of a dirty look. We’ll help you find yours. It works beautifully – don’t even have to say anything.  It’s not a special trick. In fact, you already

boy dirty lookknow how to throw effective dirty looks.  Some of us have just forgotten how to do it. I brought in a team of experts to demonstrate and help us remember how to throw effective dirty looks.hilary clinton dirty look 150x150 Dirty Looks and How to Throw One: Earning Respect & Setting Boundaries


When I feel respected, I’m able to let my guard down. I notice who’s around when I feel the need to keep my guard up and where I feel comfortable taking it down.  That might sound strange to you, but I’ve only recently learned to recognize that I had an option.

Try it! You’ll be happier. Everyone will know where they stand with you. You’ll feel more balanced, more solid, more grounded.  What you

You can forget about the yo-yo, buddy.

You can forget about the yo-yo, buddy.

believe about yourself shows up on your face.  Make sure yours is communicating the right message at the right time.

Oh, there is that other dirty look. The look we reserve for men who deserve it.  Ladies, I can show you how to rock that look too.  We’re gonna need a different panel of experts…

Be respectful to people. Life works better that way.


Looking for other people’s comments?

They are on the right hand side of this post.

How have you been standing up for yourself lately?

Leave a comment or else send a link with a good example that you found on-line:

The “51 Must-Know Habits for Staying Young – from the Inside Out” Gift Basket Give-Away is sponsored by Genuine Health featuring healthy products for your inside and your outside.

Share Your Happy Place! Genuine Health will Donate 50 cents for Sustainable Oceans!

Share Your Happy Place! Genuine Health will Donate 50 cents for Sustainable Oceans!

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photo credits: personal photos of Cheryl Ragsdale, little boyHillary Clinton, drawing, google images,  little red headed girl, cat

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  3. 51 Must Know Habits for Staying Young – from the Inside Out
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6 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. 1

    Boundaries are extremely effective and should be taught by parents at an early age. I learned my “look” from my mother who was the consummate look-giver if someone was out of line. It speaks volumes, doesn’t it?

    • 2

      Hi Cherlock,

      The right look does speak volumes. What I like most is NOT having to say anything else. Everyone adjusts their behavior. Works perfectly with parents and their children. Your mother prepared you well. The right “look” is like having “mad” money. You’re prepared to take good care of yourself.

  2. 3

    Yes, pretty glad you weren’t directing that dirty look at us. I pity the guy off camera who was on the receiving end.

    Some people need to practice but I like that you included some pics of kids giving withering looks. My four year old has it down pat. Don’t know where she gets it from:)

    • 4

      HI Annabel,
      We know where she gets that withering look from – she has a good teacher. haha! A withering look. I couldn’t think of what else we call those kinds of looks. Excellent tool in the conversational self-defense arsenal.

  3. 5

    I LOVE THIS POST! And I hope I never get one of YOUR dirty looks…yikes! Terrific photo, Cheryl!(I’m just trying to figure out exactly WHAT someone did to get THAT look on your face. “I pity the fool…”
    Habit #38 is so critical if you want to be happy…hard to do sometimes, but I have to agree with you 100% on the ‘reward’ aspect of it.

    Great list of things to do to earn respect, as well! I like “overcoming the odds” the best…wise advice, “Ragsdini”.

    • 6

      Hey Freddie,
      Or are you Mr. T tonight? I spend much more time smiling and laughing than tossing off dirty looks. I like having an effective option though. :D
      Just Say No!

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