Career Advice Career Doctor

How To Be More Respected in the Office

If this article caught your eye, you are likely feeling under-respected by a boss, co-worker, or by the people you supervise. Perhaps even your employer in general. When you start feeling a lack of respect in the workplace, you are on a sure course to feeling disengaged and miserable with your job. In fact, a 2015 Gallup poll of nearly 81,000 workers across the U.S. found that only 32% of them felt engaged at work. No doubt, feeling disrespected had something to do with that paltry number. Here are some strategies on how you can be more respecting in the office.

Listen. Workplaces often have many people who want to share their opinions, ideas, and frustrations. If you intentionally take time to hear what is on the minds of your co-workers, you will more easily be seen as someone who is respectful and therefore deserving of respect too. When your colleagues feel they can confide and engage in meaningful dialogue with you, this will help them feel more secure in sharing more with you in the future for your input. This helps you earn their trust. This strategy goes an especially long way when bosses listen to their staff.

Be reliable. To increase your respectability factor, do as you say you will. Strive to finish projects or assignments by the date you promised. Enhance your success in this area by under promising and over-delivering. Pad your timeline so that you can be sure to get things completed on time, perhaps even early. Arrive on time for meetings, conference calls, and work shifts. Many people feel disrespected when they are kept waiting and it can sour their opinion and level of respect for you if you are consistently late or neglectful. 

Communicate clearly, effectively, and promptly. Lack of communication and ineffective communication are big contributors to losing respect in the workplace. People will generally assume that you did not consider their need or desire to know something or they might assume you simply did not care enough to take the time to clue them in. Frequent updates and clear (not long-winded) emails or conversations will increase your respectability. At any given moment, ask yourself, “who else might need or want to know this?” and pass on the information. When you are asked a question, respond to it even if you don’t know the answer. Let the person know you are working on the answer and will get back to them.

Avoid gossiping. Yes, you want to communicate, but no, you do not want to gossip. Gossiping in the workplace is a quick way to lose respect. When you put down or gossip about others, you create a culture of mistrust. People will never know when your harsh words, negative perspective, and lack of discretion will be aimed at them behind their backs. Be inclusive and kind when speaking about others, and steer clear of spreading rumours or repeating scandalous “news”. You will be seen as a professional and respectable person who respects others.

Be professional. As obvious as it might sound, you should always strive to maintain a strict level of professionalism at the office. This includes the way you dress, the tidiness of your workspace, the language you use, the topics you discuss, and especially with the emotions you display. One metric to consider: if your presentation or behaviour were to be featured on the 
evening news, would you be pleased with the report? This can be especially impactful when ethical or intense situations arise. People are often respected (or not) based on the way they react emotionally to difficult situations. Aim to focus on the big picture rather than engaging in momentary reactions activated by ego or fleeting emotions.

Be courteous. This will help you in your dating and family life as well. Clean up after yourself, think about the needs of others, and do things for the common good (like making a pot of coffee or wiping down the dirty sink or microwave). When you display respect for the workplace environment and the community there, you are viewed as a team-oriented and respect-worthy part of it.

Admit it when you made a mistake or are wrong. Think for a moment about leaders or famous people that lied or were unwilling to accept responsibility when he or she was clearly in the wrong. What level of respect do they garner? People who own up to their mistakes and work to correct them are viewed with more respect and admiration. 

Respect is something that is earned over time. Typically a person seen as respectable engages in many of the approaches covered here. Stay the course and continue to practice these strategies for the long-term. With time and trust, respect typically follows.