Dynamics of Respect in the Workplace

Respect and how it is displayed can be highly individual and vary among cultures. One thing that is common for all of us, though, is the feeling that disrespect evokes. It feels rude, unjust, and hurtful. When we are disrespected, we feel unappreciated, undervalued, and threatened to some degree. When we fail to receive respect in our work lives, our jobs become unbearable and relationships deteriorate.

One interesting question is whether all persons are worthy of respect at some level. What about in your workplace? Are all of your colleagues worthy of your respect? When does one become unworthy of your respect?

Mike Henry at the Lead Change Group wrote an article about respect that caught myattention. Here is a snippet: “No one wants to have their respect demanded, manipulated, coerced or cajoled. Respect is a push, not a pull. There is always room for more respect to be given, but not taken.  When I focus on myself, I won’t get any and I won’t give any.  We all lose.”

A common dynamic with respect is that when we are disrespected, we tend to withdraw our respect immediately, often acting in a disrespectful manner right back. This creates conflict that stems from a cycle of disrespect.

You can’t demand respect from others. You can’t get more respect (relatively speaking) from a relationship by withdrawing the respect you give. The only part of the respect equation that you can change is how much respect you give to others. And with consistency, perhaps, over the long-term, you may be able to earn respect.

What are your thoughts on respect?

Eva Rykrsmith

Eva Rykrsmith is an organizational psychology practitioner. Her passion lies in bringing a psychology perspective to the business world, with the mission of creating a high-performance environment. Follow her @EvaRykr.

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