One of Aretha Franklin’s most popular songs is R-E-S-P-E-C-T. That title certainly conveys one of the things we all hope to have in our work environment. Although we all desire and need respect, how aware are we about how good, or bad, we are showing our respect for others?
Wikipedia defines respect as: “…an assumption of good faith and competence in another person…it enables people to work together in a complimentary fashion, instead of each person having to understand or even agree with every detail of another’s method.”
It is easy to believe that respecting someone’s physical space & belongings is all that is necessary. There is more expected and more needed to respect others.
Successful collaboration requires a variety of views and talents to come together to reach a collective goal. All those different viewpoints can better shape a product or process, realizing huge benefits, even audacious goals can be accomplished. Of course, that means introducing the friction that comes from different perspectives and different methods. If a working relationship is lacking in mutual respect, it is more likely that people will get fixated on determining who is right, rather than what’s right for the project or task.
Here are 5 quick tips:
1) Check Your Assumptions
At one point in time, most people believed that the Sun and all the stars revolved around the Earth. Some people, today, have a similiar attitude at work. Every product and process is a complex combination of elements and issues. Balancing these aspects requires aligning the entire organization in such a way to make the biggest impact for the best outcome. Any individual perspective, including a team or department’s point of view, is just one aspect of larger objectives in play. As important as these perspectives may be in shaping directions and decisions, take care not to believe any one point or position is the center of the universe.
2) Listen to Yourself
Are you often starting sentences with “But”, “However”, or “No”? Or consistently providing negative critiques of why this idea or that project won’t work? Being critical or contradictory is a sure sign of needing to work on respecting others.
This is not to say that you cannot be skeptical or critical of ideas or methods. A diversity of viewpoints is essential. It is very difficult to collaborate effectively through criticism. Even if you may be correct in your stance, a negative approach more likely leads to increased resistance. Consider changing the “No, but…”, to a “Yes And…”, to find a way to move forward together.
3) Demonstrate Your Attention while Listening
Waiting is NOT the opposite of talking, yet that is what some people do. Instead of listening to others they quietly wait for their next opportunity to speak their mind. This is not a way to respect others. Listening is a discipline that is essential, both for providing respect and effective collaboration.
Many people consider themselves great at multi-tasking and so will continue to check their Blackberry, read their email, or look around for other people while listening to someone. This is practically endemic at meetings and it’s not very respectful. You build respect from others by focusing your attention on them when meeting and speaking.
Additionally, if you are doing all the talking, you can’t be listening. If you’re not listening, you’re not learning.
4) Silence can be Golden
It is not essential that you weigh in with your opinion in every conversation. Sharing information is important, just be careful your motives aren’t just trying to show how smart you are. You show more respect by helping others realize how smart they are.
Silence, by the way, is not an excuse for withholding relevant information.
5) Outcome is more Important than Output
People have to work in concert to achieve larger goals. While it is true that individuals can, and do, accomplish a great deal on their own, a team working together is stronger, better, and more successful than a collection of individual contributors. Mutual respect accelerates a team to greater acheivements.
We are all singing the same song. People are more likely to be motivated and productive if they feel they have respect from their boss and their team. It also means being aware of the respect you show other teammates, co-workers, and bosses. Aretha Franklin was only asking for a little bit more, try giving a little bit more this week.