Four Easy Ways to Show Respect in the Workplace

Showing respect and understaning the part you play 

Overheard a conversation during a conference...OK, maybe I was eavesdropping a bit—but it went something like this...

First Guy, "I'm thinking about quitting. I don't get the respect I deserve there."

Second Guy, "Tell me about it. It's no better at our company. You heard Bob just moved up to VP, didn't you? That jerk definitely hasn't earned my respect."

What was fascinating, I thought, was that these guys didn't realize they were contradicting each other. They believed on one hand they deserved respect, but on the other hand everyone else had to earn it.

The truth is, we all believe we deserve respect at work for all our efforts, and because, well, we're pretty darn cool once you get to know us. What's hard to believe is that everyone else feels the same way.

Show Some Respect

Showing respect in the workplace doesn't take too much effort. It's often in the details. Here are four easy ways to make someone's day. If you aren't doing them already, these can be a means to an end to start showing respect to those who have earned it.

  • Compassion. Treat coworkers, clients and customers with courtesy and kindness.
  • Listen. Hear out what others say before jumping in with your opinion.
  • Teamwork. If someone has a good idea, use it and give them credit. Or help them put it into action.
  • No Discrimination. Treat everyone the same no matter their race, religion, gender, size, age, or country of origin.

Don't be Disrespecting

This all sounds pretty easy, but unfortunately, we can be disrespectful without even knowing it. In the video Respectful Communicator: The Part You Play helps employees and leaders understnad the importance that everyone plays and the things that they can do to create a respectful work environment. 

You might be disrespectful if you:

  • Roll your eyes so often you give yourself a headache
  • Think the admin appreciates being called "cupcake"
  • Hide in a closet to avoid talking to someone
  • Have a mug on your desk that reads "My Dog is Smarter than Your Honor Student"
  • Used the handicap spot because Ed isn't that crippled
  • Turn in a co-worker for smoking . . . outside.

Sometimes it's not easy to show respect, but it's important to treat others with the same respect you deserve. Your actions have a big impact, whether you know it or not.

Diane Mettler has been a manager for nearly 20 years. She's also a freelance writer and editor—with hundreds of her articles published in a variety of magazines—and teaches writing at the University of Washington.