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RESPECT...Find Out What It Means

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Some years back, Aretha Franklin belted out, “You gotta give me a little bit of respect—R.E.S.P.E.C.T!” It became an iconic song, not just because of her vocal talents, but because it represents the desire of every single person. Ask anyone in your workplace what treatment they most want from their bosses and coworkers at work. 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. Ask anyone in a struggling marriage or relationship—they will see love and respect as two sides of the coin. A relationship can’t thrive without respect. Respect is when you feel admiration and honest regard for an individual. You believe that the person is worthy of your admiration because of the good qualities and capabilities that they bring to your relationship or work. But it doesn’t stop with feelings. After feeling the respect and regard, you demonstrate it by acting in ways that demonstrate your regard. You appreciate their rights, opinions, wishes, experience, and competence. We all recognize that our culture is not currently a place where respect thrives across the board. Effective leaders make certain that the places and people they lead accept mutual respect as a high value, and work to make it happen. If the boss is not taking responsibility for the environment of respect, individual employees can still make a difference by adopting the concept “each one influence one” and taking responsibility for acting in a manner that demonstrates self-respect and respect for others. For those who are the managers and employers, it is important to recognize how to show this value respect and valuing to employees. Paul Marciano, organizational psychologist and author of Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work: Build a Culture of Employee Engagement with the Principles of RESPECT outlines seven critical ways in which managers can show respect to their employees:

  • Recognition: Thanking employees and acknowledging their contributions on a daily basis.

  • Empowerment: Providing employees with the tools, resources, training, and information they need to be successful.

  • Supportive feedback: Giving ongoing performance feedback — both positive and corrective.

  • Partnering: Fostering a collaborative working environment.

  • Expectation setting: Establishing clear performance goals and holding employees accountable.

  • Consideration: Demonstrating thoughtfulness, empathy, and kindness.

  • Trust: Demonstrating faith and belief in their employees’ skills, abilities, and decisions.

Generally for everyone in the workplace, respect can be demonstrated by simple, yet powerful actions. Often disrespect is conveyed without intent, by insensitive and needless actions. Simple guidelines such as these will help avoid that, and foster relationships of respect and honor.

  • Always treat people with courtesy, politeness, and kindness.

  • Encourage coworkers at all levels to express opinions and ideas.

  • Listen without interruption to what others have to say before expressing your viewpoint. Never speak over, or cut off another person. “Seek first to understand.” Stephen Covey

  • Whenever you can, use a co-worker’s ideas. Encourage them to implement their ideas. If you do use an idea birthed by someone else, be sure to give them credit.

  • Refuse to insult people, name call, or put down people or their ideas. Be careful with teasing and humor. Humor at the expense of another person is never funny.

  • Be on guard against nit-picking, criticism over little things, condescending or patronizing. Adults engage in bullying, too, when they use language or behavior to intimidate. Be very aware of the messages your body language, tone of voice, engagement, and expressions communicate.

  • Implement policies and procedures consistently, regardless of race, age, gender, size, religion, etc. so people feel that they are treated fairly and equally.

  • Include everyone in meetings, discussions, training, and events. Of course, not every person can participate in every activity, but make sure that no one is excluded from opportunities.

  • Praise much more frequently than you criticize. Find ways to recognize and compliment great work and cooperation from those around you.

  • Treat others as they would like to be treated. Focus on the way your words and actions will affect others before you speak.

  • Treat others with respect whether or not you feel like they deserve it.

  • Understand that conflicts will sometimes take place. Exercise self-restraint, control your triggers, and take responsibility for your own actions and reactions.

  • Avoid gossip, complaining, and negative interactions. Recognize that “What Peter tells me about Paul tells me more about Peter than it tells me about Paul.” (Ruth Ann Crouse) Recognize that your actions will influence how others perceive you and the level of respect in the culture.

  • Be supportive of your organization, co-workers, and employees in communications inside and outside the workplace.

  • Ask before borrowing anything. Return things where you got them, in a timely manner.

  • Be respectful of others’ time. Whenever possible, be on time – don’t make others wait for you. If you say you will call someone back by a certain day or time, make every effort to do so. If you need to talk with someone, ask if it is a good time for him/her first. Being sensitive to others’ schedules and time limits shows respect.

Bottom line, remember we all work together to create our corporate environment and mood. Do a self-inventory on the way you show respect, honor, and acceptance to others. You can be the one to start a trend, and foster a culture that builds the health of your company.

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