If you want to go far, practicing respect — with yourself, people you love and people you don’t always agree with — is crucial.
Respect, however, shouldn’t be confused with politeness or friendliness. It’s so much more.
Respect is about boundaries, transparency, authenticity, and honesty. Those aren’t always easy to find, especially in professional settings. But trying to act with respect towards yourself and others will make you a more effective leader and team member. Even when your priorities are different from someone else’s, these cornerstones of respect can help you to find common ground and solutions.
Respect starts with ourselves
We often spend so much time working on a team it can be easy to forget about self-respect.
We give, give, give, to our projects, our co-workers, and our managers, and in the process we experience burnout. Sometimes it’s because we aren’t respecting our own boundaries, like our time or resources, and other times, the people we work with aren’t respecting our boundaries. Other times we just become so wrapped up in the work itself it’s hard to gain some perspective by taking a step back. It can be so necessary though.
Respect your time by becoming better organized, committing to your planner, and setting boundaries with your work. If you respect and hold your own boundaries, so will your colleagues. It becomes a healthier work environment for everybody.
An easy place to start is by figuring out what your job actually is. It can be easy to take on way more work than you need to if you feel that it is your job to please others. It is not. If you feel you’re beginning to step outside of your realm of work and take on other people’s duties, talk with a manager to better define your job or work out a plan that clarifies it.
There’s no need to get anyone in trouble or cause stress; all you have to do is clarify what your role is, so that you and everyone you work with can know exactly what is expected.
If a boundary is crossed, look for ways to repair the situation, like setting stricter email hours or practicing saying “no” to projects that aren’t yours or don’t serve you.
You can also set more clear “physical” boundaries like blocking off time on public calendars for chunks of focused work. Make it clear that you are as unavailable during this time as you would be during a meeting. You can then, in turn, respect your coworkers’ needs by being friendly and helpful when they request your time outside of those reserved hours.
Respecting yourself and your own work makes teamwork a lot less stressful.
16 inspiring quotes about respect
Just like you’d respect your own schedule, respect others’ too. Take time to learn and recognize other peoples’ boundaries and how you can best work with them.
Communication goes hand-in-hand with respect. Set up a dialogue with the people you work most closely with, so that communication is ongoing, as opposed to only happening when there are problems. This will keep everything moving smoothly.
Respect isn’t always a concrete application that works the same way with everybody. The professionals, thinkers, and leaders quoted below know that. These quotes about respect speak to the importance of learning the best way to work with a team:
- “When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect toward others.” — Dalai Lama
- "The most important words that have helped me in life, when things have gone right or when things have gone wrong, are 'accept responsibility.'" — Billie Jean King, tennis player
- “Tolerance only for those who agree with you is no tolerance at all.” ― Ray A. Davis, author
- “Leadership is a series of behaviors rather than a role for heroes.” — Margaret Wheatley, writer and manager consultant
- “Politeness [is] a sign of dignity, not subservience.” ― Theodore Roosevelt
- “I wouldn’t ask anyone to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.” — Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo CEO
- “One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” – Bryant H. McGill, author and social entrepreneur
- “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou, American poet
- “Tolerance isn't about not having beliefs. It's about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you.” — Timothy Keller, American pastor
- "Always aim high, work hard, and care deeply about what you believe in. And, when you stumble, keep faith. And, when you're knocked down, get right back up and never listen to anyone who says you can't or shouldn't go on." — Hillary Clinton
- “I firmly believe that respect is a lot more important, and a lot greater, than popularity.” — Julius Erving, retired basketball player
- “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers." — Stephen Covey, author of “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”
- “Fight for your opinions, but do not believe that they contain the whole truth, or the only truth.” — Charles A. Dana, philanthropist
- “No duty is more important than that of returning thanks.” — St. Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan
- “Success is never owned. It’s rented. And it’s rented every day.” — Unknown
- “To be one, to be united is a great thing. But to respect the right to be different is maybe even greater.” — Bono, singer
The benefits of respect
It’s obvious that respect has a big impact on the workplace and our happiness there. People who feel respected by their colleagues perform better, feel more comfortable sharing ideas, and want to contribute more.
From listening, to participating in important discussions, to making time for yourself and your team members, there are a lot of ways to foster a sense of respect.
Studies show that respect is a powerful force. The Society for Human Resources Management found in one survey that nearly three-fourths of employees rate respectful treatment “very important,” making it a top contributor to job satisfaction, according to the researchers. It was rated even higher than compensation.
“Knowing this, HR professionals should ensure that their workplace culture and employee engagement strategies are of equal importance to compensation, benefits and other responsibilities,” the survey report says.
Whether it be through communication, flexibility, or participating in teamwork — and it doesn’t matter whether you’re at the bottom of the latter or in upper-management — showing respect to those around you, and yourself, is critical for success.
Take a little time to get to know your teammates and figure out how to best incorporate respect into your work.