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Respect in the Workplace

Mar 8, 2016

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By Jim Edmondson

Respect has gotten a lot of attention in all aspects of society, especially in the human resources community lately, as it relates to equity, fairness and just getting along. Depending upon your experiences and perspective, respect means very different things to each of us. However, most of us would probably agree that a healthy level of respect, regardless of what you perceive it to look like, is perhaps the most potent ingredient for workplace civility. This article examines tips for creating respect in the workplace in order to enhance relational empowerment at work.

Respect reaches much further than manners and compliance. It also plays a key role in recognition, engagement, and in creating a strong organizational culture. Think about it. Recognition, at its core, is really just a form of respect. People who have been recognized tend to rise to that recognition, and strive in the future to be worthy of it. People who are not recognized for hard work tend to feel forgotten, unappreciated, and disrespected. Ask anyone in your workplace what treatment they most want from their bosses and coworkers. They will likely top their list with the desire for their employer and coworkers to treat them as if they have dignity and with respect.

Respect is when you feel admiration and deep regard for an individual. You believe that the person is worthy of your regard and admiration because of the good qualities and capabilities that they bring to your workplace or life.

How Employees Judge Respect

You can hear respect in a person’s tone of voice, see it in their non-verbal communications, and in the words they use to address you. We judge respect by the way in which the organization, our bosses, and coworkers treat us. We see it in how the organization establishes new rules and policies, how they introduce new procedures at the workplace, and in how they acknowledge, compensate, and reward us. We see the degree of that respect in how often they ask our opinion on something, run work changes that affect the job by you, and in the delegation of tasks.

But what, really, is respect? And, how is respect demonstrated at work?

Tips for Demonstrating Respect

The list provided below will give you methods you can use to demonstrate respect through simple, yet powerful actions. These ideas will help you avoid needless, insensitive, unmeant disrespect, too.

Always treat other people with courtesy, politeness, and kindness. Listen to what others have to say before expressing your viewpoint. Never speak over, interrupt, or cut off another person when they are speaking.

Encourage coworkers to express opinions and ideas. Be receptive to using such ideas to change or improve work. However, should you do so, let the individuals know that you used their idea. You could also encourage the person with the idea to implement it.

Never insult people, name call, disparage, or put down people or their ideas. Similarly, it is unhelpful to constantly criticize others over little things, nor belittle, judge, demean, or patronize them. A series of seemingly trivial actions, added up over time, can constitute a bullying behaviour.

Be aware of your body language, the tone of your voice, and your demeanor and expression in all of your interactions at work. People, who are radar machines, are hearing what you are really saying in addition to listening to your words.

Treat everyone the same, regardless of their race, religion, gender, size, age, or nationality. Implement policies and procedures consistently so people feel that they are treated fairly and equally. Treating people differently can constitute harassment or a hostile work environment.

Include all coworkers in meetings, discussions, training, and events, whenever possible. While not every person can participate in every activity, do not marginalize, exclude, or leave any one person out.

Try to praise much more frequently than you criticize. Encourage praise and recognition from employee to employee as this type of reward goes a long way to building a team environment.

The golden rule to remember at the workplace should be: “Treat others as you wish to be treated.”

There are many other ways to demonstrate respect at work. These ideas will constitute a solid foundation for a respectful work environment, but your imagination and thoughtful consideration will bring you many more.

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