1. Strong Work Ethic
The world loves a winner. As John F Kennedy once said: “Victory has a thousand fathers but defeat is an orphan.” The best way to impress co-workers and earn their respect is by excelling at one’s job and establishing a reputation as a no-nonsense performer.
The way to achieve such high standards of performance is by inculcating a strong work ethic that gives priority to the task at hand and the overall corporate goal instead of playing office politics or trying to acquire fame and glory at the cost of hampering overall organizational interests.
The performance-oriented work ethic needs reinforcement with high levels of integrity based on trust. The ways to earn respect by displaying integrity at work include:
- being honest by telling the truth always
- not compromising on company policies and procedures
- admitting mistakes and owning up responsibility when things go wrong instead of trying to pass the blame to others
- taking care to behave appropriately at work
- developing a strong sense of justice
- showing gratitude and acknowledging the efforts of others instead of trying to claim undeserved credit
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3. Positive Attitude
Maintaining equanimity and a positive attitude, even during an adverse situation, is a good test of character and those who succeed at it invariably earn co-worker respect.
Some ways to develop and maintain a positive and cheerful attitude include:
- maintaining a sense of humor without going overboard
- learning from mistakes and taking setbacks as learning experiences
- remaining confident of one’s own abilities
- remaining motivated at work to spur achievement and spreading inspirational quotes
4. Resource Person
Among the best ways to encourage co-worker respect is by becoming a team player and positioning oneself as a guide, resource person, or troubleshooter in one’s area of expertise. Co-workers, irrespective of whether they are seniors or juniors, are likely to respect someone who helps them when struck with issues they cannot resolve on their own.
The key however is not to let such help affect one’s own work. The foundation for gaining co-worker respect is competence in one’s own work and falling short on one’s own work expectations while trying to help others is counter-productive – and the best way of losing respect rather than gaining respect.
5. Knowledge Sharing
People seeking co-worker respect would do well to take the initiative to share knowledge and create a learning organization. Co-workers respect and look forward to interacting with people who provide avenues to develop their skills and career, and make their work interesting.
Some ways to share knowledge include:
- sending e-mail forwards of useful and relevant information without spamming inboxes
- keeping abreast of latest developments and using such knowledge to make both casual and formal conversations enriching
- seek out relevant books and periodicals from others and offer the same to those interested
- volunteer to offer awareness sessions on general concepts such as total quality management and other topics of general interest
6. Interpersonal Relationships
Most people appreciate and respect people who maintain healthy interpersonal relationships with others without getting too involved in their personal matters. The trick in maintaining such a delicate balance is an understanding of where to draw the line when it comes to involvement in co-workers' personal matters. A striking example is refraining from asking the other person’s salary.
A related consideration is to maintain equanimity at office parties and social gatherings and not to go overboard and lose one’s sense with excessive drinking.
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7. Empathy vs Sympathy
Most people sympathize with the problems of issues faced by their co-workers. Sympathy is an understanding that the other person is upset and offering commiserations or condolences whereas empathy is finding out why the co-worker is upset, sharing the pain, and offering solutions. Showing sympathy is soon forgotten whereas taking the effort to empathize helps earn long lasting respect from the co-worker.
On a related note, people have their own problems without listening to those of others, and it is best to keep personal problems at home without discussing them with co-workers.
8. Clear Communications
Very often, poor communication creates misunderstandings. People get offended when they perceive one thing when the communicator might actually have meant something else. Ways to ensure clear communication include
- using simple and easy to understand words, depending on the recipient of the communication
- trying to get feedback to ensure the communication is not misunderstood
- clarifying doubts for possible misunderstandings in received communications
Maintaining approachability always is the key to healthy interactions with co-workers, and thereby indispensable for earning co-worker respect. Ways to do so include:
- being approachable to everybody without acting like a busybody or cutting people off
- returning phone calls
- respecting others by being polite and courteous
- hearing others' points of view even if one tends to disagree with them
10. Be True to Thine Own Self
William Shakespeare’s quote in Hamlet: “This above all, to thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day” holds very true while attempting to gain co-worker respect.
All the above points might create a positive impression in the minds of co-workers, but to establish long lasting respect it is imperative that such behavior is natural. Artificial behavior soon shows out and the key to retaining co-worker respect is acquiring the above pointers as natural habits.