Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Respect in the Workplace

If you ask a dozen people to define "respect", you will get a dozen different answers.

One time, I ask my teenage son to tell me what it was that he DID (actions) to demonstrate respect. He was so frustrated! I was supposed to just UNDERSTAND that he DID respect me. (He shouldn't have to DO anything to DEMONSTRATE respect, right?) I'm delighted to report that a few short years later, he is standing tall, honorable, and RESPECTFUL. (Well... mostly respectful.)

Now... let's talk about this concept in the workplace. There are scores of signals we send and receive daily, indicating our level of respect for people, institutions, bosses, co-workers, subordinates, and just "people in general". Most of our actions have two sides; what we "mean to convey" and what OTHERS perceive. Guess what? What we "mean to convey" is irrelevant. The only perception that really matters is what OTHERS believe. How others perceive you determines how successful you will be.

What are some of the "small things" we do that have a huge impact on the perception others have of us?
  • Showing up to meetings late.
  • Accepting phone calls while engaged in conversation with others.
  • Texting on your BlackBerry during meetings.
  • Not abiding by "office rules".
These may sound like small things on the surface, but just like the Bible says, "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." (In other words, the way we are inside always shows up in our actions and words.)

When you have a reputation of showing up late for meetings, what you are saying to others is, "My time is more valuable than yours", or "I really don't respect you."

Next time you are invited to a meeting, arrive early, and engage. Be THERE for the people who called the meeting. ADD VALUE. Remember, you're just NOT as important as you think you are.

Please feel free to leave a comment!

Phil Leichliter
J. Philip Group L.L.C.