Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, earned the respect of many and spelt out what respect means in her famous song in 1967:
“R-E-S-P-E-C-T find out what it means to me”
“Be careful of your thoughts: your thoughts can become your Actions, your Actions can become your Character, your Character can become your Destiny!”
Keep your words sweet – you never know when you might have to eat them!
Be Curious rather than Certain
Don’t assume someone does not wish to be involved in a meeting or decision – Ask!
Respect @ Work – Author Safia Boot
Whenever I carry out a workplace investigation or ask employees about work, invariably the question of what treatment the parties most want comes up. They will likely top their list with the desire to be treated with dignity and respect. You know when you have respect. You also know when you don’t have respect because of how it leaves you feeling, even long after you have forgotten the details of the situation, you never forget how someone left you feeling. Lack of respect can leave you feeling negative about yourself, the situation and those around you. When you don’t have the respect you think you deserve you can react in kind, even out of character because of the strong emotions it arouses, or you may withdraw yourself and your co-operation. In the end everyone loses out. Disrespect stifles collaboration and innovation – two key ingredients that help us and our organisations prosper and deliver the best we can and be the best we can. But what is respect really? And, how is respect demonstrated at work? You can demonstrate respect with simple, yet powerful actions because actions speak louder than words. These ideas will help you avoid needless, insensitive, unintentional disrespect, too.
- Sometimes ‘foreign’ or unfamiliar names can be difficult to pronounce. Ask the person how they would like to be addressed rather than inventing a short name that’s easy for you but could cause offence. If you have difficulty pronouncing a name, come clean at the outset with sincerity and admit that you may get it wrong a few times so need their help in getting it right as your intention is not to offend. This creates a joint responsibility for how we are treated.
- Treat people with courtesy and kindness – sometimes it helps to declare your intentions upfront especially when you have difficult feedback to share. People can react defensively because they assume your intention is negative so give them the reassurance they need before giving them feedback.
- Choose your words carefully – keep them sweet as you never know when you might have to eat them! Rehearse your opening line. If you have as a poor opening line it can throw the whole conversation in the wrong direction and make matters worse.
- Encourage colleagues to express opinions and ideas thereby keeping an open mind to other possibilities, solutions and perspectives.
- Actively listen to what others have to say before expressing your viewpoint – what you hear may change what you were planning to say or how you think about the other person.
- After any conversation reflect or better still invite feedback on what percentage of time you listened rather than talked. No one ever gets criticised for listening too much and making the other person late for their next meeting!
- If you disagree with what the other person is beginning to say or appears to be inferring, don’t let your emotions take you hostage and react in horror. Wait for them to finish rather than cut them off prematurely. Alternatively, return to the conversation later once you have calmed down and can plan your response and any questions that will help clarify what the other person appears to have said. You can resume the conversation by telling them you have reflected further on what they said and how it left you feeling.
- Enquire further to ensure you understand their point of view, what they are basing that belief on and how did they come to their conclusion. Don’t assume you know everything there is to know about the other person, their origins, values, their situation, their fears and dreams – be curious rather than certain.
- Use people’s ideas to change or improve work and the experience of our customers and colleagues. Let employees and colleagues know you used their idea (they will feel complimented rather than used), or better yet, encourage the person with the idea to implement the idea or test it out with others to get buy-in.
- Never insult people, name call, disparage or put down people or their ideas using negative or emotive labels. Stick to the facts or what you have observed using neutral language.
- In giving feedback focus on their strengths and invite them to consider if there is more they could do or things they could do differently – encouraging self-reflection. Do not nit-pick, constantly criticise over little things, belittle, judge, demean or patronise. A series of seemingly trivial actions, added up over time, constitutes bullying. The person is less likely to seek your feedback in future and everyone misses out on a learning opportunity.
- Treat people with the same respect no matter their race, disability, religion, gender, size, age, sexual orientation or country of origin. Implement policies and procedures consistently so people feel that they are treated fairly, equally and according to their needs or circumstances. Treating people less favourably because of their personal characteristics (directly or indirectly) can constitute harassment or a hostile work environment.
- Include all colleagues in relevant meetings, discussions, training, email distribution lists and events. While not every person can participate in every activity, do not marginalise. If you are unsure what they should be involved in – don’t assume, ask them! Sometimes people simply like to be kept in the loop and have the choice of getting involved on an ad-hoc basis.
What Next? Employment Tribunals expect employers to take all reasonable steps to prevent harassment and discrimination. For more information on how we can help you limit the risks arising from inappropriate workplace behaviour via our independent investigation service as well as deal with it appropriately to prevent issues arising, contact us for further information. www.respectatwork.co.uk
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