Do You Get Respect at Work?
Respect is so important when it comes to your career development. It comes into play when management are considering your ideas, when they are selecting people to participate in projects, and—yes—when they are thinking about who is getting promotions or raises. But when these critical career junctions occur, are you the person in the frame? Do you believe you receive sufficient respect at work, for the effort you put in, the quality of your output, to be considered for these situations?
The first thing to consider if you want others to respect you, is to respect yourself. This may sound like a tired and worn cliché, but I is absolutely the case that you cannot expect people to defer to you either as a person or a professional if there isn’t a degree of self-respect within yourself. And self-respect should not be mistaken for arrogance or egotism.
So, respecting yourself is the first step to gaining the respect of your co-workers and management. Have the confidence in your abilities and know that you provide value to the team – they would not have hired you if you did not bring something to the table. Do not be shy about speaking up when you have good ideas. Ask the smart questions, and set your personal standards high – which includes dressing and speaking professionally at all times. Respect at work also includes avoiding things that will derail you from meeting your personal goals, like office gossip or negative attitudes. Ignore all that, stay positive and know that you bring something special to the organisation. You will feel more comfortable in your office environment and be able to focus more on delivering the best outcome possible.
Respect – Once You Have it – Give it
Once you are secure in your own place in the world – and in the office – think about those around you. Nothing will make people lose respect for you quicker than if they feel like your focus is always somewhere else when they are talking to you. So next time you are in a conversation, make sure you are really engaged. Adopt open body language, do not let other things distract you, and ask validating or clarifying questions to show you are paying attention.
But do not go overboard in your efforts to give and gain respect at work. There can be a tendency to overcompensate and blur professional boundaries. Try and treat everyone the same. Office politics can be deadly and sometimes even unavoidable, but reduce your involvement in them wherever possible. Do not gossip or get drawn into it when others do. There are numerous instances where bad blood develops among employees who kept spreading rumours about people they do not like. As much as you want to seem ‘one of the guys’ and when all you have tried to do is show respect, you have suddenly become a participant in a divisive situation between colleagues.
Besides which, the person you have heard gossip about might wind up being your boss one day, so all your efforts to gain respect will come to nothing. Simply steer clear of this type of chatter. You can still bond with your colleagues and maintain proper boundaries, which in the long run will get you more respect for your principled position than by trying to curry favour with one person or group of people, over another.
And Now the Counterintuitive Advice
Say “No” from time to time. No, honestly! While you may think jumping at every opportunity is the way to gain more respect at work, the opposite is actually more often true – especially when you do not have time to do what you have already been asked to do correctly. When you become known for having the strength of character to speak your mind, know your limitations and draw a line in the sand, you will emerge as a person people respect, a leader in fact. So, when you do not have time, show that you respect that time and the quality of your work too much to agree. Other people will follow suit.
When you show others that you consistently respectfully deal with good, as well as unacceptable behaviour, performance and outcomes, most people will naturally reciprocate by improving their behaviour, performance and outcomes.
If you have lost the trust and respect of others, they will only then follow you because they fear something or someone, and they are unable to be their best. Never confuse being liked for trust or respect. You must remain courageous, humble and firm in your resolve to behave in a manner that earns trust and respect, no matter how long it takes. Ultimately, this will result in you getting the respect at work you richly deserve.