“I have no right, by anything I do or say, to demean a human being in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him; it is what he think of himself. To undermine a man’s self-respect is a sin.” – Antoine de Saint Exupery

When I interview team members and ask what they want most in the work environment, without a doubt, the number one thing that people say is “respect”. Webster defines respect in the following manner: “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.” With this definition, can we agree that one earns respect—it is not given freely?

Earned respect is a two way street. Employees are vocal about the desire for respect—but employers desire respect, also. However, in both cases, respect is earned.

Once an employee or employer shows that they have the capabilities and the desire to perform their responsibilities and—do so—then they want to be respected, honored and acknowledged for that. Appreciation for talent and for work well done is a powerful motivator of people in the workplace. People want and need to be appreciated. Appreciation is a more powerful motivator than money. In fact, it is the strongest of all motivators in the workplace today.

If one earns respect, how does this happen? I am going to address 7 ways to earn respect from the perspective of both the employee and the employer. Both parties are involved in creating an environment where respect is a part of the culture.

7 ways to earn respect in the workplace.

  1. Find out what is expected of you in your position and fulfill those expectations.
  2. Be a continuous student. Be open to finding and implementing newer and better systems.
  3. Be a leader of yourself and others by thinking ahead, by thinking outside of the box, and by being an innovator.
  4. Avoid the rut of doing things one way—because it has always been that way. Take responsibility for innovation.
  5. Work diligently to bringing projects to a productive conclusion. Follow up and follow through. Make sure that people can count on you to do the things you say you will do, when you say you will do them.
  6. Recognize the things that others are doing well and acknowledge them for their accomplishments. Express appreciation.
  7. Bring a positive attitude to each and every day. Leave your problems at the door and face your work with a sense of professionalism and grace.

Note of acknowledged personal bias about RESPECT: When someone is talking to you—or if you are in the presence of someone you care about—put your phone down. Get off of your social media. Get off of the internet. Get off of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter—who cares! I love those devices and those communication methodologies—but, what is more important? To listen to your child tell you about her/his day at school or to find out what kind of pizza someone ate for lunch? The post can wait. Can your child, your significant other or spouse? Etc. The post will be there until you erase it? But will your child or significant other? Will they? Be respectful of others. Put the technology down!

Enough said!