How to Demonstrate Respect in the Workplace

Use These Tips to Create a Respectful Workplace

Three collaborating female employees
Respectful Treatment Helps Employees Collaborate. Cavan Images/Iconica/Getty Images

Ask anyone in your workplace what treatment they most want from their bosses and coworkers at work. They will likely top their list with the desire for their employer and coworkers to treat them as if they have dignity and with respect.

Respect is when you feel admiration and deep regard for an individual. You believe that the person is worthy of your regard and admiration because of the good qualities and capabilities that they bring to your workplace.

After feeling the respect and regard, you demonstrate them by acting in ways that show you are aware of your colleagues as people who deserve respect. As such, you recognize that they have rights, opinions, wishes, experience, and competence.

Respect in Popular Music

Popular songs tout the need for respect.

From Aretha Franklin:

Find out what it means to me.”

to Train:

“Everybody needs a little respect
Everybody needs a little time
Everybody needs a little respect
Everybody needs a little.”

Everybody needs a little respect. You know when you have respect. You know when you don’t. 

How Employees Judge Respect

You can hear respect in a person's tone of voice, in their nonverbal communication, and in the words they use to address you.

You judge respect by the way in which your organization, your bosses, and your coworkers treat you. You see it in how your organization establishes new rules and policies, how they introduce the new procedures to employees, and in how they compensate, recognize and reward you.

You see the degree of their respect in how often they ask your opinion, run work changes that affect your job by you, and delegate meaningful assignments.

But what is respect really? And, how is respect demonstrated at work?

Tips for Demonstrating Respect

You can demonstrate respect with simple, yet powerful actions.

These ideas will help you avoid needless, insensitive, unmeant disrespect, too.

  • Treat people with courtesy, politeness, and kindness.
  • Encourage coworkers to express opinions and ideas.
  • Listen to what others have to say before expressing your viewpoint. Never speak over, butt in, or cut off another person.
  • Use people’s ideas to change or improve work. Let employees know you used their idea, or, better yet, encourage the person with the idea to implement the idea.
  • Never insult people, name call, disparage or put down people or their ideas.
  • Do not nit-pick, constantly criticize over little things, belittle, judge, demean or patronize. A series of seemingly trivial actions, added up over time, constitutes bullying.
  • Be aware of your body language, the tone of voice, and your demeanor and expression in all of your interactions at work. People, who are radar machines, are hearing what you're really saying in addition to listening to your words.
  • Treat people the same no matter their race, religion, gender, size, age, or country of origin. Implement policies and procedures consistently so people feel that they are treated fairly and equally. Treating people differently can constitute harassment or a hostile work environment.
  • Include all coworkers in meetings, discussions, training, and events. While not every person can participate in every activity, do not marginalize, exclude or leave any one person out. Provide an equal opportunity for employees to participate in committees, task forces, or continuous improvement teams. Solicit volunteers and try to involve every volunteer.
  • Praise much more frequently than you criticize. Encourage praise and recognition from employee to employee as well as from the supervisor.
  • The golden rule does apply at work, or, as professional speaker Leslie Charles, says, “Implement the platinum rule: treat others as they wish to be treated.”

There are many other ways to demonstrate respect at work. These ideas constitute a solid foundation but your imagination and thoughtful consideration will bring you many more.

Implemented consistently at work, these respectful actions help ensure a respectful, considerate, professional workplace. And, I ensure you that a respectful workplace brings benefits for all stakeholders.

See 40 ways to say thank you at work and 20 ways to tell your employees that you care.

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