Behaving with respect for others and being treated with respect seems simple and common sense. In extreme situations it may be easy to identify harassment, discrimination, workplace violence, or other human rights violations which could indicate a lack of respect in the workplace. Closer to the dividing line it is not so easy to distinguish respect from a lack of respect.
Recently I worked with a team in which there were complaints that some employees were not following the “respect in the workplace policy”. I was reminded that we cannot control anyone else’s behaviour.
We can control our own behaviour and make sure our actions merit respect in the workplace. A common example is that when we hear gossip from others we can choose not to participate and disengage politely from joining future personal chat about people who are not present. The situation got me thinking about ways to gain respect in the workplace.
Seven Ways to Gain Respect in the Workplace
1. Every day that you work demonstrate your unique value as an employee.
Each employee was hired to bring their unique talents to the workplace. Just like a professional athlete you need to bring your A game to work every single day. You gain respect from peers, supervisors and customers when you consistently make your full effort to complete each task in your job.
2. Smile. Stay positive and focused whether it’s a time of celebration or challenge.
A warm smile will take you a long way. When you are celebrating an achievement at work of you or your company, a smile communicates the positive moment better than words. Even when you are on the phone your customers or co-workers can “hear” your smile.
It is more challenging is to keep smiling and maintain a positive attitude when things go wrong. When there is adversity, the employee who stays focussed and brings their full strength to the job gains respect.
3. Be patient with your peers and yourself.
Recognize the strengths of you and your colleagues and make allowances for the weaknesses.We are all human and none of us is perfect. Show consideration by recognizing the strengths of others and being patient with their weaknesses. Each of your fellow employees was also hired to bring their unique skills to the workplace.
Remember to be patient and forgiving with yourself, too. Compassion for yourself is a base from which you can extend compassion for others. Sometimes we tell ourselves negative messages that we would never say to someone else. That frustration with ourselves can spill over into our communication with others.
4. Go beyond the call of duty whenever you can.
Be the person who will stay late to finish a project or cover someone else’s duties when there is an emergency. While you need to follow the basic outline of your job, your willingness to do more than is expected will be rewarded with respect from your co-workers and others in your organization.
5. Know your limits. Don’t overwhelm yourself.
This is the shadow side of number 4. While you need to collaborate and do more than is expected in your job, it must be balanced with fulfilling the basics of your job. If you accept a workload which is too heavy, you may find yourself overwhelmed and not able to accomplish what you need to do. Set boundaries for yourself so that you are consistently able to do your best.
6. Listen to others.
Explain your point of view with care so they can understand you.Use your active listening skills to hear others and really understand what they are saying. Then after they have been heard, they will be more willing to listen to your perspective. Take the time to explain your ideas with care so that it is easy for others to understand.
7. Collaborate with others. Build your skills as a conflict resolver.
There may be times when you need to work with people, even people you don’t like, in other departments and other layers in your organization. Accept that conflict will happen and be ready to work on finding a collaborative resolution that will work for everyone involved.
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