What does respect mean to you? If you are like most people your first thoughts may have been regarding disrespect. It is often easier to think of the times someone has disrespected us. Whether as a manager, a co-worker or a customer, I’m sure we can all think of times when we were left feeling we were no better than chopped liver. Respect in the workplace is vital to every organization.
I was recently kept on hold with a company for over 15 minutes, the recorded message told me that although my call was important to them, I could also get all the information I needed from the website. Then the message abruptly changed to “we have too many people on hold please call back.” I didn’t feel respected, I felt rejected. In the same week a telecommunications company kept me on the line for over an hour and couldn’t solve my problem, they promised to call me back the next day, almost a week later I was still waiting. When you are treated in this way how does it make you feel? Does it make you want to continue doing business with the company?
Respectful behavior can brighten our day and make us want to tell others how good it made us feel. We spend so much time at work and we have a choice where we work, even if it doesn’t always feel like it. Some of the best workers may feel under-appreciated and overlooked because no one is showing them basic respect.
Whatever your position at work you have a part to play in creating a respectful workplace. It starts with the simple things, good manners, holding the elevator, not drinking the last of the coffee, smiling, being respectful of people’s time and not doing things that you know will cause offence or upset. If you remember the TV series The Office, many of the storylines included people saying and doing awful things to each other. Although they are entertaining to watch on TV, being at the wrong end of someone’s pranks, bullying or disregard can be painful and humiliating.
There are many highly skilled and dedicated workers who have had their commitment worn away by disrespect. Disrespect often occurs in subtle ways that a manager may be unaware of. The disrespect occurring in many workplaces may not be as drastic as the stories we read about in the media, yet may still have negative effects on employees. Erosion of trust and isolation can lead to mental health issues in the workplace. Employees may quit, moving to an organization where they hope to be treated better.
Although we often hear people claim that their workplace is like a family, the reality is it is a transaction; they pay you to be there as long as you provide value. You can walk away whenever you want and most times they can dismiss you if you don’t perform well or if you break the rules.
I will attend a conference later this year where the organizers have requested that delegates refrain from wearing fragrances. At first glance you may feel this is intrusive or controlling. If you knew that people were likely to become sick or even gravely ill due to allergies would you be prepared to rethink that?
Being respectful may cost you something, a compromise, a gesture, a small shift in your thinking. Mostly it will cost you nothing. Isn’t it a small price to pay to care about your fellow human beings and to avoid making them sick, sad or unhappy?
Want to know how to be part of creating a respectful workplace?
Respect in the Workplace: You Have to Give it To Get it by Eric Harvey and Trish Taylor is published 10 September 2019 by the Walk the Talk Company. Available in print via their website www.walkthetalk.com or on Amazon in print and Kindle versions.
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