Respect: To Get It, You Must Give It


What is the best way to create a workplace atmosphere of respect and dignity? One of the simplest and most effective ways of showing respect to your staff is through actively soliciting their input and suggestions and then acting on them. Get to know your staff. People who feel included and valued are far more likely to be productive and loyal to your business. By implementing their good ideas you communicate a sure-fire way of demonstrating your respect for their contribution. When employees have skin in the game, they will be more inclined to perform up to those standards.

It’s also easy to overlook the importance of daily communication. These days the focus seems to be a drumbeat of monitoring body language. If we simply stick to the basics, by showing greater sensitivity in the way we address others, we will consistently address issues such as prejudice and stereotyping while building positive workplace relationships. When each employee works to develop an awareness of respectful behaviors and skills, it is likely those employees will serve as role models and their behaviors will spread within the workplace.

The following 10 suggestions can serve as reminders to keep you on track:

  • Before taking any actions, consider the impact of your words and those actions on other people. Take responsibility for your actions.
  • Only by recognizing and respecting individual differences and qualities can your organization fully realize its potential.
  • Self-monitor how you show respect. Focus on how it’s displayed in all areas of your communications, including verbal, body language and listening.
  • Knowing what frustrates you enables you to manage reactions which leads to a more appropriate way of responding to issues.
  • Gather relevant facts, especially before acting on assumptions that may damage relationships. Then respond with a positive and solution-oriented approach.
  • Include others in your focus by considering their needs and avoiding the perception that you view yourself as something more than a member of the team.


Any course on civility, respect or bullying should be framed within the context of your specific organization. Give your group real-life situations, circumstances and policies that are relatable. While certain principles are universally accepted, such as treating others with respect and moral behavior, you will be well served to frame expectations around your company’s personal culture and personality. Be mindful and deliberate about your expectations, but not at the expense of destroying the good camaraderie that does exist.


When your staff has selective definitions of what is or isn’t disrespectful behavior in the workplace, it leads to subjective interpretations of bad behavior. Expectations of positive behavior need to be taught-reinforced, it needs to be mandatory and it should be reoccurring. Clearly defining expectations and boundaries helps to create a culture of respect and holds everyone accountable. A default benefit? It will also help you weed out those who cannot align themselves with company standards.


The majority of senior executives will take the view of workplace leadership being at fault as it relates to a culture of disrespect in the workplace. Knowing those expectations it is vital for those in leadership to personally step up and take responsibility. While changing a culture of disrespect is a system wide objective it starts at the top. What the leader expects the leader has to model. The leader must also be held to full account.


We’ve all heard the unfortunate quote; “What you tolerate, you promote.” Sadly, many who experience bullying or general rude behavior at work do so while remaining silent. They feel they have no one willing to hear their concerns or they even fear retaliation. Building a culture of respect begins when you teach the learned behavior. But regardless, going forward you must praise the work of your team. Instead of suffering in silence you can create a culture of praising in public. Lift up the positive behaviors of respect, honor and diversity. These are the strengths of your company and the virtues that will lead your teams to reach their goals.

Few people thrive in a bullying, aggressive workplace where praise and criticism are commonplace. Treating peers and staff with dignity and respect will help get the very best out of everyone. It sounds like common sense, right? Sometimes commonsense may not be as common as we’d like to think – head meet wall.

Harassment and bullying complaints are costly for business in terms of time, money and added stress levels. Those types of unhealthy workplace cultures can lead to increased instances of absence and staff turnover, not to mention low productivity and staff morale. Equally as hurtful is the damage done to the reputation of an organization. In today’s instant information age reputations can be made or broken within minutes. Take time with your group to discuss the big picture and workplace culture’s impact on recruiting and retaining newly hired employees.

In the end, we spend too many hours of our lives in the workplace. Take the time and make the effort to create a satisfying place to be!

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