Respect training in the workplace and respect videos for training employees: Diversity, Dignity, Mutual Respect
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Improving Respect in the Workplace

Improving Respect in the Workplace
By Jason L Mefford

In my career I have administered several employee surveys. Often there is a question asking which core value the company struggles with the most. Many times I have seen the value companies struggle most with is respect. Why does respect seem to be the answer so often and what can we do to improve respect in the workplace?

Here are some real-life experiences I have personally observed during my career. They are simple examples of not showing respect to fellow employees. Many of these I am sure were not done intentionally, but regardless of the intention, had a negative effect to their co-worker.

  • Wow!! Looks like you're gaining some weight.
  • Quit trying to be an eagle. I hired you to be a duck.
  • I don't really care what you think. I hired you to do your job, not to think.
  • Oh... you're brining us donuts so you won't be the only one gaining weight around here.
  • That is the dumbest idea I have ever heard!

As humans, we tend to say things without really thinking about the impact they will have on our co-workers. It's O.K. for a bald man to make jokes about bald men, but not appropriate for someone with a full head of hair to participate in the joking. If you are not part of the sub-group in question, you have no right to use certain words, or make light of, or joke about certain things. Anything that could be viewed as sexual harassment or racial slurs are never appropriate in the workplace, nor are they respectful. Even though you may think something, doesn't mean you should say what comes to your mind. Some things are left better unsaid.

Most of us prefer to be seen as who we are, not how we may look or what sub-group we may be associated with. Commenting on one's physical appearance or sub-group is usually not appreciated, is often insulting in a business setting, and can be disrespectful. At work, we all belong to the same sub-group - employees of our individual organizations - and as such we should focus on commonalities, not differences with our co-workers.

Consider the difference with these interactions in contrast to those discussed earlier.

  • Hello Jason. It's been a while since we've seen each other. How are you doing today?
  • I understand that you have ambitions and a desire to progress in your career; however, right now I need you to be the best "pick any position" so we can accomplish our team goals. I really need your help to get this project done on time.
  • I just want to tell you "thank you" for doing a great job on the project.
  • Do you have any suggestions for how we can solve this problem?

In each of these examples, no reference was made about the employees's appearance or sub-group. There was no demeaning language or tone that would be viewed as a personal attack. Points-of-view were validated and the employee could see there was genuine caring for them as an individual.

Here are also some practical things we can all do to show others more respect in and out of the workplace:

  • Listening attentively
  • Keeping agreements
  • Remembering what others like and dislike.
  • Acknowledging things others do well.
  • Remembering and using first names
  • Being considerate
  • Using manners

Doing these simple, practical things will improve the level of respect you show others. When you are respectful to others, they are much more likely to be respectful towards you. Your job satisfaction will improve, as will that of your co-workers, as you show more respect for each other.

Jason Mefford is a sought after adviser and speaker on ethics, corporate governance, GRC, and internal audit topics. He is currently the President of Mefford Associates, a professional training, coaching and boutique advisory firm.

Mefford has been the chief audit executive at two different multi-billion dollar manufacturing companies. Prior to that he was a manager at both Arthur Andersen and KPMG, performing internal and external audits and advisory services for clients in various industries.

Mefford is active in the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) where he has served in various volunteer leadership positions at the local and international level. He serves on the Leadership Council for the Open Compliance and Ethics Group (OCEG) a non-profit think tank that uniquely helps organizations drive "Principled Performance" by enhancing corporate culture and integrating governance, risk management, and compliance processes.

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  • Improve morale by stopping and intervening with disrespect--literally overnight!
  • Help employees understand not just one or two, but all the areas of disrespect that often continue in organizations, unaddressed, and place companies at risk for productivity losses, absenteeism, even workplace violence
  • Gain cooperation and support from every employee and instill responsibility to set a positive example and behave in a proper manner on the job which will not offend, embarrass, or humiliate others
  • Improve the productivity of employees by stopping behaviors that breed conflict
  • Experience fewer headaches from grievances and complaints employees bring to top management or human resources due to problematic relationships on the job
  • Encourage new attitudes toward those who are different or at a disadvantage socially, occupationally, or by socioeconomic status
  • Reduce risk of employment claims and lawsuits, threatening letters from attorneys, and the legal costs associated with managing these communications
  • Reduce stress, worry, liability, and concerns your leadership and corporate officers face from risk and exposure associated with disrespect
  • Encourage employees to be proactive and "step in" to disapprove of, and discourage disrespectful behavior when they witness it among peers
  • Demonstrate employees were trained and educated in respectful workplace practices to help protect your company against punitive court actions for failure to be promote a positive workplace
  • Champion social responsibility. Demonstrate your company is ahead of the curve in dignifying all employees--be a leader in your community
  • With the web course, train all employees and retain certificates of completion that document education and awareness
  • Easily train employees--even the employees who missed live training by emailing them a hot link to the web course
  • Educate supervisors and hold them accountable for intervening in disrespect and not participating in disrespectful behavior by setting an example for others
  • Train new employees immediately, without waiting, and start them off on the right foot by helping them understand and appreciate your positive work culture and its zero tolerance for disrespect
  • Encourage diversity and positivity. Show the community that your organization values respectful behaviors, diversity, and tolerance. These are assets for any company that help them compete--while improving the reputation of your work organization in the local community
  • Gain positive publicity for respectful workplace training and lead other organizations in promoting a positive work culture
  • Reduce workplace conflicts and disrespectful behavior that jeopardize individual dignity, self-esteem, well-being, and undermine work relationships, friendships, and productivity.
  • Help employees act early to stop being disrespected
"I just wanted to say that this product met my expectations and that we received positive feedback from several employees. General comments were that the presentation on Respect in the Workplace really cut to the root of the issues and provided great suggestions on how to respect others."  

David E. Edwards, Director
Human Resources,
Logistic Services International, Inc.,
Jacksonville, FL

5 Things You Can Do to Advocate Mutual Respect in the Workplace or at Home

5 Things You Can Do to Advocate Mutual Respect in the Workplace or at Home
By Marci Crane

The funny thing about mutual respect is that you can't control it. Sure, you can control whether or not you exercise on a regular basis, whether you control your temper, or whether or not you express respect to others, but mutual respect implies that two or more persons have respect for each other, and as unfortunate as it may seem at times, you can never control when and where others decide to show you respect. So, perhaps the question should be: "How can I encourage mutual respect?"

Read the five tips below and learn what you can do to create an environment that is more conducive to manifestations of mutual respect.

1) Encourage Mutual Respect with Time

It's painfully obvious that we simply don't get along with some personalities, but it is also fairly obvious that the more you get to know someone the more you begin to understand them and in turn, respect them. After those primary bad impressions "sizzle off" you might even make some surprising friendships.

If you truly want to foster mutual respect with people who may be hard to get along with, you are going to have to "buckle down" and set aside time to be with that person, work with that person, talk with that person and even play with that person. You might have to grit your teeth now and again but in the end you will gradually start to realize that his or her personality or point of view aren't that hard to get along with after all.

2) Encourage Mutual Respect with Patience

Patience, in my opinion, is a combination of empathy and selflessness. In other words, patience is about other people, which is why patience is such a hard virtue to master. After all, who wants to spend time thinking about other people when we are so busy plowing through our own agendas? The truth is that the best people, the smartest people and the most successful people take a good long look at other people and express empathy and selflessness towards the people they associate with. Sincerity of action is also very important. A person who is simply going through the motions of being selfless (i.e. taking more time to talk with someone) will simply appear to be a fake if he or she doesn't show sincerity.

3) Encourage Mutual Respect by Listening

Listening is one of the greatest manifestations of respect. Even if you think the ideas of a co-worker or acquantaince are way "off the mark," listen carefully to what he or she is saying and then ask questions that truly make you curious. For instance, if your co-worker wants to raise the marketing budget and you think that is the stupidest idea you have heard during your entire career, don't express your feelings, or your own thoughts regarding the supposed stupidity of the suggestion. Instead, start asking questions like "How will the company have enough to pay for the new hires in two months?" or "What do you think about our current marketing strategies? Do you think we should improve those first? You might find that he or she has some great ideas that were being poorly expressed because no one took the time to analyze them more fully.

4) Encourage Mutual Respect by Laughing

If you laugh with others, you can relax, and when you relax and help others to relax as well, more effective communication takes place every second. Take time to analyze your "opponent's" sense of humor and be patient with him or her. Try to find common interests, or laugh about experiences that you've already had together without using humor that he or she might find offensive.

5) Maintain Mutual Respect with Honesty

Once a person trusts you and starts to show you respect, it doesn't mean you will have his or her respect for a lifetime. In order to maintain mutual respect you have to be honest with that person even when it is extremely uncomfortable to do so, and you have to be honest every day--not just on the days that are convenient for you. A dishonest businessman or professional is truly no businessman or professional at all. If you are honest, you will become better at everything you do and others will crave your mutual respect.

Marci Crane is a web content specialist for Innuity. For more information in regards to instruction of activities and lessons that can help you foster mutual respect in the workplace, please feel free to contact a VitalSmarts representative.

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