R-E-S-P-E-C-T – Showing Respect in the Workplace
What do people crave the most? What is the root cause of so much resentment, hostility, and stress in the workplace? What drives people to feel resentful and unappreciated, or to walk away from money, business, and professional opportunities? What can kill business deals when reaching a deal is in everyone’s best financial interest? It is simple – it all boils down to respect!
People want to feel respected – they need to feel valued, heard when they speak up, and considered in important decisions. They want to be treated with kindness and compassion as they go about their daily work. The problem is not everyone brings the requisite level of respect to work and to business dealings. However, if we all treated each other better, collectively we could make the workplace more enjoyable, less toxic, and increasingly stress-free.
Business Is Personal
No matter what people say, the adage that “business isn’t personal” is false. Business is always personal. The difference is that it may not feel personal to the person making the statement since they are not going to feel the fallout from some difficult decision. What that person mainly means is that they want a free pass on doing something harmful to you – possibly in a callous way. While we all understand that tough decisions must be made in the business world and it is unrealistic to fantasize about singing Kumbaya around a maypole, people need to start infusing more humanity into how they go about business and engaging with colleagues.
You can still say “no” to people, walk away from deals, and engage in healthy competition. However, it is the way you go about this that matters. Respect and making tough choices are not mutually exclusive. Everyone has feelings, and, to the extent possible, we should limit how much we hurt them when we have to do things that have outcomes that negatively impact others.
If You Want Respect, Then Give Respect!
The best place to start is with kindness. While this may sound hokey, we really should “do unto others as we would have them do unto you.” If you want people to treat you with respect, you have to make sure you are walking the walk. It is unreasonable to expect to receive or demand respect when you are seemingly incapable of giving it.
The next time you feel slighted and begin to think that you have been disrespected, ask yourself if you may have been disrespectful too. Looking at ourselves first is always challenging, but it is the best starting point in welcoming more respect into your daily experience. Once you begin to treat others the way you want to be treated, the generosity of spirit that you demonstrate and actively support will flow towards you tenfold.
Does Respect Have to Be Earned?
While we often like to think that respect needs to be earned, is this approach really helpful? Where does this mentality really get us?
People may need to earn your trust or take actionable steps to validate your need to trust them in business, but that should not stop you from giving respect freely without any expectations in return. At the outset, respect should be a given and not earned. It is trust that should be earned.
It is only when people prove time and time again they are unworthy of your time and effort due to their belligerence, attitude, or inability to show mutual respect that you should alter your behavior. Even then, you should still aim for being cordial and polite as you “give them the hand” in your mind.
In order to be treated with respect on an ongoing basis, we should be respectful of others. However, our motivation to be treated professionally should not be the sole motivator for why we should be considerate individuals. Not everything has to be a strategic play or a tit-for-tat.
Yes, treating others well will yield positive results in your career and in business, and it can promote positive, healthy, and enjoyable workplaces. However, being kind towards and respectful of others is just the right thing to do. If you do not have to and know a better way, why welcome more negatively and backlash into your life?
Life is so much easier when we cease getting in our own way, and actively encourage environments through our actions where people can be their best selves and flourish. It is in respectful professional atmospheres where businesses can thrive.
The Azara Group (TAG) is a consulting firm that promotes the development of leaders in an increasingly competitive and diverse marketplace – providing strategy consulting services and leadership training services to advance professional and life success. TAG leverages expertise in career strategy, diversity, negotiation skills, and business acumen to provide strategic advice and consulting services to help people and organizations get what they want, achieve their goals, and advance their business and career objectives. TAG also helps companies better attract, retain, and promote diverse talent, and develop robust diversity platforms and strategies to create a more inclusive workplace.
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