10 Strategies for Gaining the Respect of Your Coworkers
written by: nataliajones•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 6/16/2011
Good relationships with your coworkers can make it much easier to get things done. When you enjoy respect in the workplace your productivity rates are higher, but you are also more likely to be satisfied with your performance and your overall job description. Read on to find out how to get there.
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1) Give Respect Upfront
You cannot demand respect if you don't pay it upfront. Respect is a two-way street and if your work colleagues don't feel like you have respect for what they do, or for their efforts in general, they will give you a hard time. Everyone can benefit from simply stepping back and taking the time to walk in the other person's shoes. This is not only a good rule of thumb for the office setting, but for all your interactions.
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2) Be a Good Listener
It is never a good idea to talk more than you listen, because if you are not attentive you can say the wrong thing and then it is almost impossible to take it back. When you listen to what others have to say it shows that you care and that you respect them and their opinions. Everyone loves to be around a good listener, so you can earn respect in the workplace simply from being an active listener. This means summarizing what the other person has said in your own words to ensure you are both on the same page. You might be surprised at how much this simple step changes the way you are perceived.
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3) Develop a Good Work Ethic
Arriving to work on time and ready to take on the day, regardless of what situation arises, shows that you are worthy of respect. This is much better than sauntering in just after you are supposed to start work and then spending half an hour getting your morning coffee and settling down. You can also pay extra attention to your desk and how your work is organized, because when your surroundings are organized it is easier to be productive. This kind of attitude is always admired and you even become someone that others look to for advice because of your take charge attitude.
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4) Be Willing to Accept Challenges
Instead of shying away from the more difficult tasks, you can earn respect by willingly accepting a challenging project. Of course, it is not advisable to enter into a situation if you feel you are unprepared, but taking on tasks that stretch the limits of your experience only helps you to grow. This is the only way you can prove to those around you that you are able to move beyond your current position, and it lets others see you in a different light. When you take initiative and show a "can do" attitude, those around you will look to you for advice in difficult situations as well.
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5) Speak Up When You Need To
On the other hand, you should never allow people to take advantage of your willingness to help. There is a difference between showing you care and lending a hand and letting unscrupulous coworkers kick back while you do all the work. Learning how to speak out against injustice in a diplomatic and respectful way can earn you the respect of your peers and even your superiors. This might take a bit of practice, especially if you are not in the habit of speaking up for yourself, but it is always better to work towards having a voice than to sit back while others trample all over your self-respect.
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6) Dress the Part
You might think that it is alright to show up to work in your most comfortable attire if you get the job done, but a smart approach to your work wardrobe can make a world of difference to how you are perceived. Simply paying attention to the way your clothes fit and making an effort to look professional, even in more relaxed environments, can change the way you are treated by your coworkers. When you dress appropriately, you change your personal confidence level and, although this may appear to be imperceptible to others, they respond by showing you more respect in turn.
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7) Always Be Honest
It should go without saying that honesty, especially in the workplace, should be valued above all else, but there may be situations when you think it is better to tell an untruth. Even when it seems like the easier thing to do, telling the truth is the better option. This can also take a bit of nerve, because sticking to this rule could sometimes be inconvenient and you might convince yourself that it is better to turn the other way. Of course, there is also a difference between being honest and being unkind or insensitive, but your social graces should guide you on the right path.
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8) Walk the Talk
There is nothing worse than working with a hypocrite. When you pay lipservice to those above and around you, sooner or later you will become known as someone who can talk the talk, but certainly is not willing to turn a bit of that advice inward. For instance, you should not go around talking about the importance of punctuality or being productive at work, while you get to work late every morning and spend countless hours surfing the social networks and forwarding useless email messages.
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9) Empathise With Others
Showing a bit of empathy can really get you a lot of respect from your coworkers. Everyone wants to know that someone else understands their position. Instead of making demands of someone else, try to start by stating their position and then highlighting your own before making your request. This simple change can make a huge difference in the way your request is received. For instance, instead of coming down on someone for not handing in a report on time, try showing empathy by acknowledging their workload, but also highlight the importance of the report to your workflow and then ask when it can be ready.
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10) Be Professional
Finally, professionalism is a broad umbrella that covers a myriad of behavior patterns. When you maintain a level of conversation that does not threaten to insult anyone in the room, you are acting professionally. When you choose to respect your time and the time of others by getting things done on schedule, and getting back from lunch within a reasonable timeframe, you act professionally. Generally obeying the company rules and procedures also shows respect for your organization and this is displaying professional conduct as well.
These tips are simple yet effective ways of earning the respect of those around you.