Earning the Respect of Others at Work is Worth the Effort
It is human nature to want to be liked at work, but I urge you to go the extra mile to earn the respect of your colleagues and your boss. There is a difference between being liked and respected in a leadership role. If you earn the respect of your team, your people will be more productive, accountable, and willing to go the extra mile.
In the era of Facebook and ubiquitous social media, you can “like” something with the click of a mouse to show your attraction or acknowledgement towards a person, object, or sentiment in a post. It has become a popularity contest of sorts to attract numerous likes and expand your social media presence and network of friends.
Many people get sucked into the popularity contest mindset in the workplace as well and strive to be liked by their colleagues. It’s natural to say that you want to be liked and respected, but you must work hard to earn the trust and respect of others, it’s not gratuitous, and it takes time.
Nice is Not Enough – being courteous and professional in the workplace is expected, but if one is passive and overly agreeable, it may hinder your chances of getting promoted or working on prime assignments. Being overly nice is probably not in your job description, so don’t succumb to the self-sabotaging behavior by being exploited. Being nice must also have guard rails.
Professional Respect – this evokes a positive feeling of esteem or deference for a person and their actions. If you are cultivating a professional persona where you are indispensable at work, you can become the go-to expert and distinguish yourself amongst your peers. You’ve got to assert yourself to be seen and heard so you can be recognized for the great work you are accomplishing. Nobody ever earned kudos on a performance evaluation for being nice. Miss Congeniality is as outdated as it sounds and best left for the pageant circuit. Treat everyone with dignity and respect. Period.
Friends or Enemies? Charlotte Beers, author of I’d Rather Be in Charge and Former Chairman and CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, says that relationships often matter more than work. Perhaps not fair, but it’s a reality. The quality of your work may be trumped by the relationships you build or break.
Charlotte Beers says:
“You must recognize that there will be a moment in time when you will not be able to be represented by the quality of your work but rather by the relationships you have. Make as few enemies as possible, it’s really just good form. Men can compete ferociously with each other and then turn around and lend a hand to their opponent. Here’s the bottom line: The person who is very good at relationships is the one who gets to be in charge.”
It’s a small world and your boss today may be your customer in five years. Every person counts in our connected world-of-work, and respect is a key element in maintaining professional relationships.
Teach People How to Treat You – you have so much more control than you are allowing yourself to use. Dr. Phil McGraw offers this strategy:
“Own, rather than complain about how people treat you. Learn to negotiate your relationships to have what you want. Give yourself permission to train the people around you (at work and at home) so they treat you with respect and dignity. You must take responsibility for shaping other’s behavior and teach them how you wish to be treated.”
If you accept when people are aggressive, bossy or controlling — and they get their way — you have rewarded them for unacceptable behavior, according to Dr. Phil. You need to be accountable and ready to negotiate what you need and want in the workplace from a position of strength and power — not fear or self-doubt. Your resolve to be treated with dignity and respect must be uncompromising. Being nice is not enough to command the respect of others.
Action Steps for Earning Respect
John Klessinger wrote a great piece originally published in A Coach’s Manual that illustrates how a sports coach must earn the respect of his/her team, because being liked is simply not enough. These rules of engagement to earn the respect of a team are as applicable in the career world as they are on the playing field.
- Set the example in your enthusiasm, commitment, and dedication.
- Mean what you say and say what you mean. If you say you are going to do it, do it. Your team will quickly see if you are a person of your word or giving them “lip service.”
- Hold people accountable for your mission, standards, and expectations.
- Show your human side – admit fault, mistakes, and have moments where you are vulnerable. Apologize, say sorry, and show appreciation.
- Treat everyone the same within your expectations for your team. By this, your standards are your standards. If your standards are to be on time, work hard, have a positive attitude, then hold everyone accountable. Coaching individuals differently does not deviate from your program’s core values and standards.
- Be consistent in your messaging and what you say.
- Develop trust and rapport.
- Listen to your players and open lines of communication.
Self-Confidence is Empowering – as you navigate your career journey, consider how you can intentionally and authentically earn the respect of your colleagues. The goal is to be more emphatic and self-assured, but not aggressive. Your new commitment to earning respect will be palpable to others and perhaps cause a positive ripple effect in your organization. Don’t ever compromise and sell out on this most precious commodity because you deserve to be respected.
A bonus to being respected at work is that many people will also enjoy being around you and that’s a good thing. You will continue to foster professional relationships at work but keep the “liking” to Facebook.