Respecting someone is a silent way of expressing that we value that person. The message that we communicate when we disrespect someone, whether this is intentional or not, is that we think very little about them, we don’t care, or we don't value them.
This kind of message is toxic in the work environment. How does disrespect affect the working relationship between you and your team? We all want to feel respected and valued where we work, or why would we even bother?
If we feel we aren't adding value or feel we are under appreciated, sure we will turn up to work - but why would we put in any effort? Why would we perform to our best, believe we can do more, or follow the leaders?
As a leader what can you do to show more respect to those that you work with?
Respect means something different to every culture, group, family, and individual. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. How do we learn about which actions are respectful and which are disrespectful?
Respect is something that we often learn through absorption. When I tell my 13-year-old son his behaviour is respectful or disrespectful, I’m not entirely sure he understands exactly what I am talking about. With this in mind, we recently discussed the meaning of respect for our family. We got onto chatting about intentional and unintentional disrespect.
Talking about another person in an insulting way, which had the intention of making them feel low, is obviously disrespectful. But what about when our unintentional behaviour has the same outcome - it makes the other person feel low and puts them down, but we don’t intend this? Either we are ignorant of their feelings or their position, or we act in a way that is aggressive, angry, short, ignore or interrupt. Is this more or less disrespectful?
In what way can we as leaders put others down without intentionally doing so? What does this do to our working relationships?
Of course our first thought is, "I don't disrespect my team". But take a moment and reflect on some behaviours you may have that unintentionally send that message.
Which of these actions do you do?
- Are you late?
- Are you distracted by your phone?
- Do you make an effort in your appearance?
- Do you abuse workplace privileges?
- Have you ever taken credit for someone else's ideas?
- Do you gossip or talk down about another person in the office?
- How often do you interrupt?
- Do you fail to acknowledge the presence of another person?
- Are you using jargon others don’t understand?
- What about belittling others nonverbally?
- Do you forget to express appreciation for another’s effort?
- How aware are you of others' feelings or perspective?
If you found yourself answering "yes I have/do this" to any of the above, reflect on how you can change this behaviour.
The more your team feel you respect and appreciate them, the more eager they will be to work as a team, demonstrate good work habits, and take on new projects. Appreciation, respect and praise is the fuel for innovative thinking and long-term employment.