“Every human being, of whatever origin, of whatever station, deserves respect. We must each respect others even as we respect ourselves.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Without respect, relationships falter. Everyone wants and needs to feel respected, and yet, research from a worldwide poll of over 20,000 employees shows that 54% of people report they don’t regularly get respect from their leaders. Busy, demanding schedules, often the excuse for abrupt or impolite behavior, is no excuse for a lack of civility.
Need more incentive to do the right thing? This same research showed “being treated with respect was more important to employees than recognition and appreciation, communicating an inspiring vision, providing useful feedback — even opportunities for learning, growth, and development.”
Below are five ways to show respect whether your title is leader, salesperson, assistant or parent.
1. Welcome all opinions, ideas and feedback. If you find others hesitant to share information or specific topics with you, chances are you’ve taught them to remain tight-lipped. Only a fool chooses to be vulnerable in an unsafe environment, so look deeply at your contributing behaviors. One off-color joke, piece of sarcasm, blatant interruption or shutting down another’s suggestion speaks louder than all the lip service you pay to equality, diversity or innovation. Be honest. Do you welcome opposing opinions, or do you insist on having the last word? Do you cast judgment before hearing all sides of a story? Listening past your biases requires awareness and practice, yet remains one of the fastest ways to show respect, build connection and maximize trust.
2. Be curious and compassionate. Next time someone on your team makes an error, rather than raise your voice, roll your eyes or shame and blame, take a breath, take a moment and take your time to ask additional questions to identify and understand the underlying cause.Instead of sternly saying, “How could you let this happen?” softly say, “Help me to understand what happened.” Feeling frustrated or disappointed is expected, but respectful leaders maintain emotional control and put their focus on solutions and next steps leaving others’ dignity intact. After all, haven’t we all dropped the ball or disappointed another at some point in our career? In those moments, what we need most is compassion and well-chosen words. Connected leaders hold individuals accountable through clear, sincere and respectful communication.
3. Be present and attentive. When Success Magazine asked followers the best way to show respect to others, 65% responded listening to others. I’m not surprised given how many individuals ignore those directly in front of them to respond to incoming emails, texts or calls. Sure, there are times when you need to divert your attention to more pressing matters, but know each time you choose to put another on hold, you’re sending a message they are less important.One leader I met, who has an open-door policy, teaches team members who enter to remain silent if his hands are on the keyboard allowing him to finish his thought, sentence or entry. Following, he pushes his desk chair away from the computer, smiles and gives his full attention to the individual. His time and attention makes others feel valued and respected.
4. Trust your team. Connected, respected leaders empower teams to deliver quality work through encouragement, guidance, training and tools. Following, they show their teams respect by trusting them to act in accordance to what they believe is the best solution in any situation.For example, a hardware store owner I interviewed provides $25 store gift cards to his team yearly. Employees are free to use these cards at their discretion to make for a better customer experience. Recently, an elderly customer who was upset an item was no longer on sale, was overcome with emotion when the employee pulled out his gift card and said, “Let me use my personal card to make up the difference.” I’d bet that employee felt pretty good himself knowing he was trusted to make the right decision.
5. Make your word gold. Those who know me, know the value I place on saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Are you committed to the same standards you expect of others? Do you talk about the importance of showing up on time for meetings, but breeze in 5 minutes late? Do you share confidential information with others to advance your own agenda? Do you tell an employee you’ll speak to human resources about their promotion or raise, but weeks go by without any action? Not only will you lessen your ability to influence or impact your team with these behaviors, but you’ll quickly lose respect in their eyes. After all, you can’t respect someone you don’t trust.
Can you imagine how different our workplace and world would be if we all just showed each other some respect?