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Five Ways To Get More Respect At Work

If your boss or coworkers aren’t taking you seriously, try these tactics.

Five Ways To Get More Respect At Work
[Photo: Helen King/Getty Images]

If you’ve left a job because you didn’t feel you were getting the respect you deserved, you’re not alone. Lack of respect is one of the most common reasons people quit, according to Gartner’s latest Global Talent Monitor Report. While many used to suffer in silence, the tight labor market has put employees in the driver’s seat, and they’re speaking openly about the lack of appreciation or doing something about it.

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Sometimes a lack of respect is the fault of your management or colleagues, but other times it’s possible to change your attitude and behavior to get people at work to respect you, says women’s empowerment coach Heather Monahan .

“Being successful is a lot of work and doesn’t happen by accident,” she says. “It is a deliberate sequence of events that occur as a result of hard work and constant preparation. Confidence isn’t given, it is learned.”

If you want to command more respect, here are five things you can do:

1. Deal With The Situation Head-On

It is critical to nip negativity in the bud, whether it’s bullying or otherwise, says Monahan. “The longer it goes on, the longer you are allowing it, and the more challenging it becomes to change,” she says.

Make a clear request for what you want, says Don Maruska, author Take Charge of Your Talent. Address the situation by saying, “Each of us deserves to feel respected and supported in doing our best work. When you [describe the specific statements or behavior], I don’t feel respected. Will you please stop [describe behavior]?”

“When you receive a response, confirm what you have agreed upon,” he says. “If the disrespectful behavior doesn’t stop, escalate to your supervisor or human resources professionals.”

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Being proactive is crucial, says Christian Thoroughgood, assistant professor of psychology at Villanova University. “Confronting disrespect signals strength of character and respect for oneself,” he says.

2. Generate A Power Image

You can command respect if you project a power image with your body language, voice, and words, says Gilda Carle, author of One Up Strategies Business Schools Don’t Teach.

Optimize body language by applying Carle’s technique, which includes smiling, being open, watching your posture, and leaning forward. “The objective is to be approachable and authentic so listeners will feel they can share the information you most need to act on,” she says.

To optimize words, be mindful that when you speak, know that listeners only process 25% of what you say and remember 10% of that, says Carle. “Speakers should pre-rehearse sound bites so they have them ready at a moment’s notice,” she says.

“Stand with your shoulders back, head up, and lock eyes with others to ensure they treat you with respect,”adds Monahan.

3. Prepare For The Next Time

If you can’t address the situation immediately, write down what the person said to you when they behaved in a manner that wasn’t warranted. Then brainstorm what you want to say the next time it happens, suggests Monahan. Write down these phrases and rehearse them often, so they feel natural.

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“Once you have your line ready and written out, memorizing it will equip you for the future and set you up for success,” she says.

Visualize yourself being proactive and achieving your ideal outcome in the future situation, says Monahan. “Practice,” she says. “If you truly believe it in your mind it is not only possible it is probable.”

4. Become Hard To Replace

Another way to command respect is to develop a unique, highly valued skill set that makes others dependent on you, says Thoroughgood.

“Having a charismatic personality and occupying a high-ranking position matter, but the data suggest that possessing a unique expertise that is not easily replaced is, above all else, what increases individuals’ influence and makes them indispensable, especially in today’s knowledge-based economy,” he says.

Take advantage of training and development opportunities in and outside of the organization, and pursuing higher education in fields that are and will continue to grow, such as big data and analytics, says Thoroughgood.

5. Pay Attention To Your Personal Brand

It’s possible that you don’t command respect because you don’t project a brand that earns respect, says Maruska. If you’re the office clown, for example, people might not take your great new idea seriously. Respect doesn’t turn on and off at will. It may be time to rethink your brand and reputation and make steps to change it.

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“In marketing terms, a brand is a promise that creates a preference for you,” says Maruska. “Think about what promise will give you the respect you desire. Then act to show that you deliver on your promise.”