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Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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respect from co-workers

How to Gain the Respect of Your Co-Workers

Whether you work for a small or large company, or whether you are in management or an entry-level position, gaining the respect of your coworkers is a smart career move. We all want to be liked.  We should all strive to be respected as well.

In today’s competitive job market, looking ahead and planning a career path is essential. Following that path requires the support and respect from your coworkers.

How can you gain more respect at work?

  1. Take responsibility for your actions. No matter what happens, take responsibility for your actions – both good and bad. It’s okay to highlight when you have accomplished something worth celebrating. However, don’t spend all your time telling others how great you are. It’s just as important to acknowledge when you might have taken the wrong action. Real leaders apologize when they make mistakes, and their teams respect them for it.
    • If you feel that your actions resulted in negative consequences for someone, apologize.  Saying “I was wrong and I am sorry” goes a long way.
    • When possible, make amends and make the situation even better than if you had not made the initial mistake. 

    Example: I had a client order a book from my website and the order got overlooked.  It was late and I felt terrible. We not only sent the one book, we sent an entire collection of 10 books to try to make up for the delay.  She was thrilled!

  1. Avoid taking out your frustrations from a bad day on coworkers. One of the traits of well-respected people is the ability to control their emotions and attitudes. As you go through your workday, there will be situations that annoy and frustrate you. Make sure you don’t vent your frustrations on people who don’t deserve it.
  2. Remain calm. We all get bad news. We lost a contract. The supplier is running late again. A snowstorm is cancelling flights for three days. The truth is, we all get bad news occasionally at work. When you receive bad news, first think about the way you should respond, so you can react appropriately.
    • Shouting and losing your cool are the worst things you can do. Instead, remain calm and gather the information you need to handle the situation in a calm and composed manner.
    • Take a moment to cool down. If needed, go for a walk, get some coffee, or go sit in your car for a few minutes. Once you are focused on the solution, take the steps needed to get the matter resolved.

    Remaining calm on the job is essential to gaining the respect of your coworkers. As we teach military people, “calm is contagious.”  Be calm to make the best decisions. 

  1. Provide the right information at the right time. When you want to advance your career, resist the urge to engage in office gossip. There’s a lot to be said for an office environment that has an open door policy, but that same policy may also make it difficult to discern correct information from false.
    • Don’t relay gossip. Only pass on information if you know the information is reliable, truthful, and necessary for someone else to know about.
    • Keep the personal out of the workplace. Avoid talking about coworkers’ personal lives, especially if you’ve been told information in confidence. Remember, if a person was standing in front of you and you wouldn’t say something directly to them, then don’t say it behind their back.
  1. Give credit where credit is due. When other people have done a good job, make sure to tell them so. Better, tell other people at work. Aside from making people feel good about themselves, you’ll soon realize that speaking highly of others will also work wonders for bringing respect to you, too.
    • Giving credit to your coworkers is honest, fair and it gains you respect. Great leaders know this. Great leaders openly brag about the accomplishments of their people in a way that enhances their reputations in the workplace.

At the end of the day, the most important way to gain respect in the workplace is to respect those you work with. Treat everyone with courtesy. Be kind.  Be helpful.  Be generous with your knowledge. Treat everyone like they are the CEO, your best client, or your cherished friend.


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