The late Aretha Franklin sang it:
Find out what it means to me
Take care, TCB
A little respect (just a little bit) is what we all want isn’t it? In my experience, there are times and places where I have felt highly respected, cared about and valued at work and then times when ‘banter’ has gone too far, and I’ve felt bullied or belittled. You can guess which environment got the best from me.
Perhaps you’ve met those people who seem to throw their weight around because of their job title? It might get things done but it doesn’t earn respect. Demonstrating integrity in your words and in your actions, as well as showing how you make a positive impact is essential to earning respect.
In respectful environments people perform, they follow rules while also calling out poor behaviour, they feel good about being there, feel secure in their work relationships and cared about.
The Society for Human Resource Management released a report stating that “respectful treatment of all employees” was the number-one contributor to job satisfaction. And “trust between employees and senior management” was the second. This means that above all of the perks and management tricks, treating each other like people is what really matters.
Whether you’re starting a company or part of growing one, developing a culture of respect and trust should be a priority. Change makers develop good respectful relationships in the workplace, and with February being the month of love, caring and compassion, here are 7 ways to bring that respect into your work life.
1. Engage with Compassion and Curiosity
Years ago, I looked on in awe at a colleague, Trevor, who could connect with anyone, a fifty plus white male who was just as comfortable speaking to a disaffected working-class black teenager as he was to a senior government official. When I observed him, I noticed that he suspended judgement while taking the time to truly understand other’s behaviour. Understanding the needs, values and beliefs that influence an individual’s behaviour can really change your attitude toward them.
When you truly listen to them, you are able to develop empathy for their position or situation. Trevor was also able to accept facts. This does not mean that he agrees with or approves of other’s choices, it simply means that’s he was able to acknowledge the facts without any value judgment.
This engagement with compassion and curiosity is the type of behaviour that creates an inclusive culture which can help organisations to be more productive and creative in the long run.
2. Address Conflict Positively
There’s always that one person who riles you, who you struggle to communicate with, or perhaps it’s gone as far as you being enemies.
How you handle conflict is probably a fair indication of your ability to cope with both your own stress, and the reactions of others to stressful situations. Too often, handling conflict isn’t done respectfully. Instead, we blame, criticize, have angry outbursts or just avoid dealing with the situation.
To communicate with respect, you need to depersonalise difficult situations. It’s likely that if an individual is angry at the situation, it’s not about you personally. Do really listen and allow the other person to speak.
If it’s appropriate to apologise, do so and mean it, don’t blame others. Be the sort of person that does what you say you will and if it’s in your remit, train your people in how to solve their day-to-day disagreements informally, rather than escalating them to formal grievances.
3. Co-operate and Collaborate
Have you ever felt excluded?
Whether in the playground when everyone played a game, and you weren’t picked, or in a corporate meeting where there is no space for your voice.
While not every person can participate in every activity, it is important not to marginalize, exclude or leave any one person out. Find ways to work with others and work as a team, an individualistic approach doesn’t garner respect.
You can use people’s ideas to change or improve work, and praise much more frequently than you criticize. This builds exciting and satisfying relationships.
Listening is a big sign of respect.
Communication is at the core of human relationships, and it should be no different with your colleagues. Open a dialogue by listening and making people feel comfortable sharing. This is an ongoing process that should go beyond a single engagement survey each year. Collect regular, ongoing employee feedback. Send surveys, host focus groups, plan one-on-one meetings and participate in conversations around the office whenever possible. Sometimes the best feedback happens in these casual settings, when formal barriers are not in place.
4. Offer Help
I belong to a Women in Business Group. The dynamic and go-getting host mentioned recently that people rarely ask her how she is, they assume that all is going well with her and that she is strong and resilient.
Think of the last time you were struggling. Maybe you were swamped and overwhelmed, or perhaps you were stuck on a challenging project?
Wouldn’t it have been nice if someone had provided some advice? Or even offered to take something off your plate?
Absolutely. So, why not do that same thing for a colleague? When you see someone who’s stressed or confused, just ask: Is there anything I can do to help?
Even if your colleague doesn’t actually take you up on your offer, just the fact that you recognised the challenge and wanted to do something about it goes a long way in fostering a more empathetic culture.
5. Provide Recognition
Everybody loves to get a pat on the back for a job well done – that’s universal. But gratitude and adequate recognition can easily fall by the wayside when we’re wrapped up in the stress and busyness of life.
Step up and be that colleague who always applauds the hard work of your team members. Maybe that involves sending a quick message to let her know how much you enjoyed her presentation. Or, perhaps it means highlighting your colleagues’ contributions when your boss commends you for your own hard work on a recent project.
These sorts of comments might seem small, but they can make a huge impact when it comes to helping others in your office feel valued.
6. Show Colleagues that you care
Little acts of kindness won’t go unnoticed – particularly at work. So, when’s the last time you did something nice just because you felt like it?
1. Pack an extra snack. Not all acts of kindness need to be grand gestures. You can just share a snack with one colleague on a day they seems out of sorts. Pack an extra one in your lunch or keep a few in your drawer for such an occasion.
2. Buy coffee for everyone on the team. If you can splurge, then pick a random day to swing by the local coffee shop and surprise your colleagues by bringing everyone their favourite drink.
3. Mentor a new colleague. Think back to your first few months on the job. Chances are, you felt like a fish out of water. Anyone new to the office probably feels the same. Take a recent hire under your wing and show him the ropes.
7. Be a Mensch
The term “Mensch” has become fairly common in American English and is often understood as meaning “a good person.” This Yiddish term also goes much deeper. In fact, it is steeped with Jewish concepts of what it means to be an individual of integrity. Ultimately to gain respect, you would do well to embrace these mensch qualities of ‘doing the right thing in the right way’ and ‘striving to be the best you’, as well as the six qualities that I’ve already mentioned.
Remember: Respect is something you have to earn – you need to work for it!
PODCAST: How to Build or Rebuild Trust [35 mins]
E-BOOK: Download our free e-book – The 12 Essential qualities of good leaders.