Have you ever heard the saying, “respect is earned, not given”? Well, it speaks to how people want to be treated, including team members and clients. As much as it is critical to make sure a job gets done correctly, it is just as important to make sure you earn respect and don’t expect it. Let’s walk through some key points on how to gain respect from your peers.
Be an Active Listener
Understand what someone is telling you, when helping them solve a problem. A helpful practice for active listening is reiterating what was said, such as, ‘so what I am hearing is….’ This way, they can confirm the message they were trying to convey, and that gives you the cue that you fully understood the situation. Allow the other person to complete their thought when speaking and try not to interrupt them or dismiss their concerns. If it is a dissatisfied customer, show sympathy and provide a solution. This could be a refund or simply reassuring them that their feedback will be used to improve the team's service approach. The same process applies to a team member advocating to you about their work environment or how they are being treated. Make sure you are listening more than you are speaking, then provide a plan that shows that you care about their well-being. Most importantly- act towards that plan. I would even challenge you to welcome constructive criticism from your peers and listen to what they have to say. This displays a level of humility and shows that you are always looking to improve as a leader. Lastly, express appreciation that they opened up to you. By simply saying, “I truly appreciate that feedback and understand where you are coming from,” your customers and team will feel comfortable speaking with you and respect your willingness to listen.
“Make sure you are listening more than you are speaking, then provide a plan that shows that you care about their well-being. Most importantly- act towards that plan.”
Practice What You Preach
It is imperative to set clear standards and to lead by example. People respect those that are organized, informed and confident. If you are a manager, you need to make it clear what each team member’s role is and your expectations and have procedures for certain tasks. For example, create a structure for how to respond to a customer concern or report an incident. This gives the team confidence when they have the information they need, and they respect your leadership because they feel that you are steering them in the right direction. I would encourage you to even have a team member shadow you during a task as a learning opportunity. This not only gives you the chance to set high standards through the protégé effect but keeps your office running like a well-oiled machine. Lastly, make sure that you are following your own rules and show your team that you are willing to put in the work to achieve the same goal.
Strong Communication Is Key
Ensure that communication is honest and concise. Confusion ensues if you aren’t sure of what you are trying to communicate to your team or to a client. They may even start to question your knowledge in the industry or experience in your position. If you are unsure, don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know, but reassure them that you will look into it further and will follow up with them. If you need your team to get a task done, write out all the steps and assign each step to a team member before you hand out the assignment. This way you have already organized your thoughts and can confidently delegate the job to each person when you go to communicate the plan. Never be afraid to ask questions, especially as a leader. Kayla Matthews with Lifehack states, “A competent communicator makes extensive use of questions - ones that are rich with specifics - to understand the audience better. Answers, not assumptions, are used to fill up any gaps of misunderstanding.” Being a stronger communicator means that you need to believe in your message and know the career you are in, so never stop learning about your industry and what you do. This only adds to the tenacity you need to guide your team to success.
Positivity is Contagious
Keeping up morale in the workplace can be an easy way to gain respect from your peers. Few people respond well to a leader that micromanages or over-criticizes with little recognition. Many team members have left a company due to not being recognized for the work they have done, or they were treated harshly with barely any appreciation. Be the first to give praise for a job well done. If you know a team member dedicated many hours on a project in great detail, be sure to acknowledge them for their efforts. Also, try your best to keep a positive attitude for your team throughout the day. Encourage them when they start to doubt themselves. Use humor to keep the environment enjoyable. Support their journey to grow within their career by helping them prepare for the next position. Try to be available to help answer any questions; knowledge is a powerful tool that, when applied in practice, can result into great things. But most importantly, in terms of positivity, smile! Not only is it the first thing your team will notice, but Duvall Dental Center states, “…the very act of turning your lips upward…releases certain feel-good hormones, including dopamine and serotonin…and nearly half of Americans believe that a person’s smile is their most memorable feature. In fact, while 48% of people will remember your smile, only 25% will remember the first thing you said.” Positivity is contagious and people tend to gravitate to cheerful energy because it feels good and that can even be the motivation they need to keep working towards their goals!
“…while 48% of people will remember your smile, only 25% will remember the first thing you said.”
Breathe, Have Patience
It may be frustrating when you have a deadline to meet but you can’t seem to get your team on the same page. It may not always be easy to get everyone coordinated, and this is where it is important to remember to have patience and give your team and clients grace. Take the opportunity to walk them through the task and break it down in simple steps or delegate tasks that highlight each team member's strengths. That way, not only will they enjoy what they are doing but they will most likely deliver an amazing product from using their skill set. With clients, try showing them a visual aid or explaining it in a different way if they don’t understand an invoice or a manufacturing delay. Educating them and giving insights on how the business operates makes people tend to respect you more because they now understand and can often relate. Investing time and having patience with your team and clients will only result in a higher return, so keep the long game in mind and don’t forget to also give yourself some grace as well.
Once respect has been earned, people will value your advice and follow your direction without any doubts. The best part is anyone can learn these skills - active listening, strong communication, patience; it is just a matter of practicing them consistently and seeing mistakes as an opportunity to do better next time. Remember, show others the same amount of respect that you want to receive from them. Everyone deserves to be treated with consideration. So, take it from the wonderful soul singer Aretha Franklin, and understand that all anyone is every asking for is for a little “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”