I have a question for the leaders among you:  What workplace behaviours demonstrate your respect for your colleagues and employees in the workplace?

I’ve had many opportunities over the years to facilitate conversations between leaders and their teams on respect. The sessions start off with the reasons for respect in the workplace, and on the flip side, the impact of disrespect.

We then get to the heart of the matter: the actual behaviours that demonstrate respect, and those deemed disrespectful, and what to do about them.

“What does respect look like, feel, or sound like to you?”- Top 5 responses:

During these interventions, where groups devise their social contract for a respectful workplace, I am often struck by the poignancy of the responses coming from participants to this question.

What does respect look, feel, or sound like to you?:

  1. First of all, please say “Hello”? Courtesy, after all, is still important to most people. Even this simple act of recognition can make a person feel valued. Let’s not take it for granted.

And as many meeting participants pointed out, respect is more than just common courtesy….

  1. “Share your expectations of me, clearly.”

A lack of clarity is often equated to a lack of respect:  “ If only they took the time to explain…” By  ‘taking time’, a leader makes room for another person’s perspective and questions.

  1. “Are you listening?” Active listening means paying full attention to the speaker, without judgment.

It’s also listening without checking your smartphone, or without letting your mind wander.

The goal of active listening is to gain greater understanding of a situation rather than waiting for an opening to interject or contradict.

  1. “Keep an open mind. You might learn something about my talent you didn’t know before.” 

Once a researcher, always a researcher; once a clerk always a clerk, right? Wrong! A narrow view of a person’s skills means that you will miss out on the hidden talent in your organization.

  1. Thank you for saying “Thank you”. More than courtesy, an attitude of gratitude is also a demonstration of appreciation for work well done, for notable skills, for new ideas, for commitment…. And the list goes on.

A simple recipe, right? 

So what’s in the way of saying ‘Hello’ or ‘Thank you’, or engaging in any of the practices listed above? The answers are as numerous as the individuals in a team:

  • “I didn’t even notice this person. Why didn’t they say hello if it’s that important to them.”
  • “Why say ‘thank you’ if they are doing their job anyway?”
  • “Once you start providing a sympathetic ear, you’ll have folks parading in your office all the time.”
  • “There are already objectives associated with the job, why would an employee also need expectations?”
  • “I’m too busy.”

The bottom line is that respect is learned and demonstrated over a lifetime. It requires personal growth, attention and modeling. A respectful leader therefore, plays a critical role in showing the way.

I look forward to reading your comments on how you’re walking your R.E.S.P.E.C.T. talk in your daily travels.



2 thoughts on “R.E.S.P.E.C.T In The Workplace: What Does It Look Like, Sound Like, Feel Like To You?”

  1. Hi Dominique,

    Great post! For me, respect gets down to asking, ‘What strategies of recognition cause ME to feel honoured and valued?’ Then I consciously choose to authentically incorporate these strategies into my engagements with others, so that I can continue to honour and value myself. When I honour myself, I become the invitation for others to honour themselves. The good will then spreads; it becomes viral in nature. The expressions of ‘Good morning’ and ‘Thank You’ – offered with a smile – no matter what – seem so simple… and yet they invite and ignite so much well being within collectives. How does it get any better than that?!

    1. Dominique Dennery

      Hi Sheila,
      I love your expression: The good will then spreads; it becomes viral in nature. Beautifully said. Moods are contagious and our intentions ooze out of our pores. When we stay true to self and express that in our every words and gestures, others respond in kind. Those who are uncomfortable with what that brings in them, will stay away. As you say, it doesn’t get any better than that!
      Thanks for weighing in. Always a pleasure to read you.

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