Successfully navigating our professional lives can be a tricky thing to master — especially if you're relatively young or are starting a new job. It's why it's important to know the key ways to earn respect in the workplace right off the bat. Otherwise you could find yourself in a state of eternal frustration when you're mistreated or under-appreciated at the office.
And I know how important this is from personal experience. I spent almost four years at a job in my twenties constantly feeling as though I lacked respect from coworkers. I felt always just felt like my colleagues treated me more like the "kid sister" than a person of my title and responsibilities. I chalked it up to the culture of the company and tried not to get too worked up about it.
So it was a rude awakening when a new employee — my exact same age — was hired and seemed to command respect from day one. She seemed to have an air of confidence and authority, and within a few years had risen high within the company ranks. I didn't get. My bosses always praised my work in reviews and I never got any complaints from supervisors, yet I wasn't commanding authority. It made me realize that even though I worked hard and turned out quality results, I was still doing something to hold myself back, and a lot of it came down to that "kid sister" status.
If this is sounding familiar, or you're just interested in ways to up your professional game, here are 11 things you could be doing that make you less respected at work.
1. You're Too Nice
In a piece for Psychology Today, communications professor and life coach Preston Ni noted that there are two ways to be nice: being kind and courteous to others, and doing things for them. Sometimes we can be so concerned with not being perceived as nice that we can fail to say no to favors and requests, even when it's totally within our right. So try to let go of your fear of not being liked and politely assert yourself when someone asks something unreasonable of you.
2. You Blame Others
According to entrepreneur and business author Kevin Daum in a piece for Inc, people who are respected at work focus on solutions to problems, not on blaming others. "People who bypass the politics and blame to resolve issues for the common good earn admiration and loyalty from almost everyone," Daum said.
3. You Gossip
In a piece for Entrepreneur, business owner Peter Daisyme stressed the importance of avoiding gossip if you truly want to impress at work. "While it may be tempting to listen and repeat the latest office gossip, doing so will give the impression that you are not to be trusted with confidential information. It also gives the impression that you enjoy discussing the misfortunes of others. That is not a good way to earn respect," Daisyme noted.
4. You're Often Emotional
In a piece for Forbes, author of Emotional Intelligence Travis Bradburry noted that "emotional hijackers" — or people at the office who become extremely emotional — are often the ones we tend avoid. If you tend to get visibly upset at work over things that others remain in control about, you could be losing the respect of your coworkers, or at the very least alienating the people around you.
5. You Don't Seem Confident
Daisyme also noted the importance of appearing confident at the office. If you preface every statement with, "I could be wrong, but," or don't look people in the eyes when you're having a conversation, it could be difficult for others to feel you can be trusted with responsibility. "Your employer must realize that you choose to work for them. Do not let the fear of losing your job hinder your performance," Daisyme said.
6. You Don't Set Boundaries
Preston Ni also noted the importance of setting boundaries at work. Don't be afraid to say you don't check emails after a certain time if it's not industry standard, or that you're only available for emergencies on weekends. If you're constantly at the beck and call of an employer they'll likely begin to take you for granted.
7. You Over-Promise
Duam also said to be careful of "over-promising and under-delivering." Instead, always give others a realistic idea of what they can expect, and don't be afraid to ask for help when needed. Otherwise you can seem like you're underperforming.
8. You Don't Offer To Help Others
According to Monster.com contributor Sheri Swales, a key attribute of someone respected in the work place is someone who willingly helps and shares information with others. Making time for others, even when you're busy, goes a long way in the respect department.
9. You Don't Respect Others
Tess Taylor, the resident HR specialist over at PayScale.com, noted that respecting others is one of the most important aspects of getting respect for yourself. "People learn by example," Taylor wrote. "This means you will have to teach them all over again what respecting you and others looks like. Start by demonstrating respect and assertiveness to your manager, your co-workers, and your customers without all the sugary talk and overtly nice behavior. Just be professional and direct."
Feeling respected in the work place can be the difference between loving your job and feeling miserable. The good news is there are absolutely things you can do to foster respect — it's just about being conscious of our behavior and sticking to our boundaries.
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