Levels of respect
There are 3 main factors that should be considered when one takes into account the level of respect for others; namely age, piety and knowledge. Islam gives importance to quality in salah, knowledge, prayers, age, the one who memorises the Quran, piety. These noble qualities should be paid attention too when respecting someone.
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: "Treat people according to their class/honour" (Abu Da'ud)
For example the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) gave more time to the leaders as they were the most influencial on the people to encourage others to embrace the deen of Islam.
Even if the person is a younger scholar, there should be mutual respect. We should be careful when given a title such as mufti/hafidh(a)/shaykh(a) etc and should still respect the elders for their wisdom/guidance/experience.
Even when serving it must be remembered that the qualities mentioned above with regards to noble qualities of the believers, one must serve in accordance to the most distinguished/noble of the gathering. If it is a gathering of equals one should start from the right moving from that person's right anticlockwise. One shouldn't leave more important people to serve someone lower. One should first serve the one with the most noble Islamic state.
General rules in conversation
- When a noble person comes from the community give them respect.
- Keep conversation short, brief, concise. Inform the person you wish to converse with, before rambling on and perhaps causing them an inconvenience (this applies also on the phone).
- In a gathering do not talk unless it is to respond to something.
- In a gathering of elders and youngsters, the youngsters of the group should have respect for the elders and the elders should have mercy on the younger people present during conversation.
- Out of respect one should not preach or lecture an elder in a gathering. This shows insincerity and lack of adab.
- Pay attention to the way you sit when having a conversation. When talking to someone, face them, not just simply half heartedly, but fully if possible. This is from the sunnah and the person will feel respected that they're words are being paid attention to.