Remember Rodney Dangerfield and his famous catchphrase “I don’t get no respect”? It can be very frustrating when you feel disrespected, and hard to change because respect is something you cannot demand or expect from others.
But first, what is respect?
Respect is series of actions that you show to someone else to build and maintain a relationship. So what does that really mean? It’s those positive feelings or actions you demonstrate to others. It is treating someone so that they feel important or that you hold them in high esteem or regard. Respect can convey a sense of admiration for another, and is demonstrated by exhibiting care, concern, and consideration for their feelings
Talking with Trees (stories that teach good character traits for kids) defines respect like this: “you care enough to think about others’ feelings before you act. Having respect for someone means you think good things about who a person is and how he/she acts. Showing respect to someone means you act in a way that shows you care about their feelings and well-being.” www.Talkingtreebooks.com
How do you get it?
Unfortunately, we cannot just expect respect – it must be earned. People will give another person respect if they feel that they have been respected in turn. Respect is something you can give, and you use your influence with others hoping to get it back. There are several things one can do to show respect for others:
Listen – this is always on the top of the list. People want to be heard and using your active listening skills to really listen to someone will show you respect their ideas and opinions.
Behave in a way that is appropriate to them – show compassion for their feelings and make sure you do not speak or act in a way that makes them uncomfortable (this can be very different from person to person).
Show integrity – do the right thing, always. And that means doing the right thing even when no one is looking.
What about respect in the workplace?
From a recent article in Forbes, 7 Management Practices That Can Improve Employee Productivity, it is noted that “respect can be a simple but powerful motivator, just as its unpleasant twin, lack of respect, has the opposite effect.” Employees are more often to feel engaged and go the extra mile for you if they feel that they are being respected.
Is respect something that is normally demonstrated in your organization, and more importantly on your team? This is especially important if you are a new leader or new to the team and want to establish good relationships with your team.
What does respect look like in the workplace? Respect could be as simple as:
Good manners - such as good meeting etiquette, team behaviour norms such as avoiding inappropriate language or behaviour, sharing, helping others
Valuing others’ ideas – really listening to them instead of imposing your own ideas. Active listening is one of the best ways to show respect both in the workplace and in your personal life.
Give effective feedback – help people understand how they are doing. Whether positive or negative, feedback helps us improve and move forward. Make the effort to help people stay on track or get back on track with feedback.
Do what you say you’re going to do – this might seem easy but often we don’t follow through with our commitments, which sends a message that the commitment isn’t important or the person expecting you to follow through is not important.
Not wasting someone’s time – be on time for meetings, show up prepared, be ready to go, and don’t waste their time when you’re there – value it.
Incorporate respect into your norms – work with your team to create team norms so everyone is on the same page with how you want them to behave. Talk about it and give examples so everyone knows exactly what is expected of them.
Building respect can take time, but losing it takes seconds. Once lost, respect can be difficult to regain. With this in mind, it only makes sense to make showing respect a priority. Of course, the side benefit will be that others will show you the respect you want.
Merri Lemmex has 35+ years experience in training, including design, development and delivery of technical, regulatory, project management, and management skills courses. Merri has worked in many sectors including the financial sector with Ernst & Whinney, Federal Reserve Bank and the Treasury Board, the medical sector with the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons, Canadian Medical Protective Association, Glaxo Smith Kline and Duke University, and high tech with Wang, JIT Learning, Corel Systems, neuroLanguage and Halogen. She has owned and operated two businesses, and is an experienced manager in training and personnel management of large organizations. Merri currently is a partner in Lemmex Williams Training Inc., a family-owned management and leadership skills and project management training business which was started in 1979. Merri holds an MBA with a concentration in Project Management.