Individual Counseling Insights From Westlake Village-Based Patricia McTague-Loft
Anyone who has been in the workforce long has seen enormous changes in acceptable behavior. Giving all co-workers respect is the bare minimum for working together, even if it wasn’t always that way. Today’s younger generation expects that, and rightly so. Common sense goes a long way in guiding a person as to what’s acceptable. On the other hand, people vary in sociability awareness. Some people have a natural ability to get along with people; others less so.
The editorial team at Indeed.com recognizes this simple fact, saying “Respectful behavior may be intuitive to some in the office, but most people can benefit from a reminder of how to act on their best and most respectful instincts.” They go on to elaborate on the ideas of respect and dignity and offer seven tips that probably serve as reminders, but valuable reminders nevertheless.
“Acknowledge each person’s basic dignity.” The “why” of this exercise should be self-evident: fundamental equality of all people means that everyone should enjoy the dignity of being recognized as having equal rights.
“Have empathy for every person’s life situation.” Equality, though, does not mean that everyone has identical life experiences. You never know what kind of hardships a person has been through, or what they’re currently going through. That may affect their behavior, and a little empathy goes a long way. You might appreciate someone giving you some leeway if you’re having a bad day, week or month. The same is true for the other person.
“Listen to and encourage each other’s opinions and input.” Getting input from everyone involved in a project goes a long way in acknowledging that everyone’s opinion is valuable. The problem is that not everyone brainstorms in the same manner. “Offices are made up of people with all kinds of personalities,” says the editorial team at Indeed, “and some are less likely to vocalize their opinions in a large group setting. Others might dominate a meeting with lots of ideas, and it is worthwhile to recognize that all kinds of approaches have value.” One way to handle this is to announce at the kickoff meeting of a new project that people should be free to speak up in the meeting, or follow up with an email or private conversation — however they feel comfortable working is fine.
“Validate other people’s contributions.” Above a junior level, most everyone brings a diverse range of experiences to their work. They may excel at contributing creative ideas or at organizing a project. Managers and supervisors can boost team morale by commenting on specific contributions from various team members.
“Avoid gossip, teasing and other unprofessional behavior.” Co-workers often spend more time with each other than with their family. That may lead to a comfort level that not everyone appreciates. Friends have their own boundaries that probably don’t apply at work. And gossip is never a good idea, even among friends much less co-workers.
“Emulate the actions of someone you consider respectful.” You may have worked with a manager or supervisor who seems to be a natural born leader. They encourage people in subtle as well as straightforward ways, they seem to effortlessly build and guide teams that coalesce. It pays to think about how they accomplish this, and it might even be worthwhile to reach out to a former mentor and quiz them about it. They’d take it as a compliment and, more important, they probably have some insightful advice you could use.
“Obey the policies and procedures of your employer.” Aside from all the intrinsic reasons for treating co-workers respectfully, the practical matter of adhering to company policy is a final reason. There are generally good reasons for policies, and cheerfully following them shows your co-workers that you not only respect them as people — you respect the institution you all work for.