Respect can be earned and lost in-game via the acceptance of free gifts from friends. The easiest way to raise your request rating is to send requests asking for gifts (although you may also sporadically receive items from Zynga). If your friend is willing to oblige, they’ll be taken to a page asking whether they’d like to show you respect or disrespect (a mystery gift or a water gun, respectively), and are then allowed to choose which reward they would like to receive in return, with 100 experience, a 50 energy refill or a 10 stamina refill as options.
According to Social Games Help, for each gift that you receive, you’ll gain 10% of respect, or, in the case of disrespectful items, you’ll lose 5% of your total respect. Reach 100% respect and you’ll go up a respect level, and will receive the Switchblade, an item equipped with 14 Attack and 16 Defense stats.
Be sure to ask your friends for some help with earning respect soon – just make sure you go easy on the gift requests, or you might find a few more water pistols in your inventory than you would have liked.