- Earning respect is about sticking to your convictions and making the best decisions possible.
- We asked two workplace experts to share the best and fastest ways to gain your coworkers’ respect.
- Those strategies include keeping your promises, admitting to your mistakes, and being a good listener.
There’s a difference between being liked and being respected. Ideally, you’ll be both.
But according to Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behaviour and Thrive in Your Job,” being respected is at least partly about being “steadfast in your convictions.” Meaning you “don’t always need to please everyone” with your decisions.
Give respect to other people
Kerr called it a “chicken-and-egg relationship”: If you respect other people, they will be more inclined to respect you, and so on.
Taylor emphasised the importance of treating everyone with equal respect, whether they’re above or below you in the corporate hierarchy.
Consistently keep your promises
“As soon as we become known as a person who can’t be trusted to keep their word, it’s one of the quickest ways to lose respect,” Kerr said.
Taylor recommended trying not only to meet your deadlines, but to beat them whenever possible. “Other people are counting on you,” she said.
Let your actions speak louder than your words
One great way to lose people’s respect? Walk around telling them “how great you are,” Kerr said.
Don’t let your ego get in the way, he added; be confident that if you’re doing a good job, your coworkers will notice.
Help others when they need it …
Let’s say you know a coworker is having a hard time finishing a particular project. Taylor said you might recommend that they talk to someone in another department with the appropriate skill set.
“Going out of your way a little bit is the right thing to do,” Taylor said. “And it also, not so surprisingly, comes back to you in more ways than you can imagine.”
That said, Taylor said people will respect you even more if you set some reasonable boundaries when it comes to helping others: “Don’t be a doormat.”
… and ask for help when you need it
People will be more inclined to trust you, Taylor said, if you display occasional vulnerability.
Say what you mean
“Being honest and direct is a really important component of respect,” Kerr said. “We don’t tend to respect people who are vague or wishy-washy.”
Even if your conversation partner doesn’t quite agree with your position, the key is being “direct in a constructive way.”
Always strive to do better
You never want to find yourself “settling for the lowest common denominator,” Kerr said. Instead, you should always be searching for a better way to do your work.
Admit to your mistakes
Regardless of your position at your company, it’s crucial to take ownership of your work – and your missteps. Don’t “make excuses for things when something’s gone off the rails,” Kerr said.
In fact, Taylor mentioned a study she ran that found 91% of employees said they were more satisfied with their job when their boss admitted to mistakes.
Be able to laugh at yourself
Kerr has led surveys that found leaders who practice self-effacing humour tend to be more respected in the workplace.
“I often say how ironic it is,” he added, “that people who take themselves overly seriously, we tend not to take those people very seriously.”
“Nobody respects bullies; nobody respects a pushy person,” Kerr said.
Taylor said being kind can be as simple as saying “good morning” to your coworkers or asking about something big that’s going on in their personal lives.
Be willing to change your mind
Be open to hearing other people’s perspectives, Kerr said, and potentially changing your mind based on what you’ve learned.
Kerr said he’s found in surveys that people’s favourite bosses are typically the best listeners. Respondents have said things like, “I get the sense that when I’m talking, I’m the only person in the room.”
See the good in everything and everyone
Don’t be a Debbie Downer. Try to find the silver lining in every challenging situation. If you’re known for having a positive attitude, you’ll earn people’s respect, Kerr said.
Give credit where it’s due
This behaviour is especially important for leaders, Kerr said. Be the type of boss who uses the term “we” instead of “I,” and means it. Kerr said his surveys have consistently found that employees appreciate when their efforts are recognised and praised.
Know what you stand for in life
Find two or three values that are important to you, Kerr said, and never compromise on them. When people see that you stick to your principles, even if they disagree with those principles, they will think, “I respect you still for holding your ground.”
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