There’s very little more soul-crushing than when you don’t feel respected and valued at work. I’d venture to say that over the portfolio of our career, we all will experience, at a minimum, pockets of lack of respect.
I know I did.
It was roughly mid-corporate career when I encountered a leader that didn’t get me–our values weren’t aligned and I was in an environment where my way of doing things wasn’t really appreciated, despite my stellar track record to date. I was rarely asked for my opinion. I felt like I constantly had to prove why I deserved to be there and yearned to scream out “Don’t you get that my way of doing things can work too?! “, or “What am I doing that makes me suddenly not respected/valued?!”
I felt I deserved better than feeling bitter.
And I wasn’t alone.
University of Michigan Professor Jane Dutton says that an astounding 90 percent of workers polled say lack of basic respect in the workplace is a big issue.
The hard truth is that it’s hard to have respect for and believe in yourself when you feel that others don’t.
But in trying to change that, here’s the problem.
There are endless iterations of what draws one person to respect another. An attribute you detest in someone will draw great admiration from someone else. It’s a fools game to chase a random set of behaviors in hopes of maximizing your respectability.
The good news is that you can greatly increase your odds of earning respect without losing your soul.
Here’s how. It’s a framework I applied to eventually “win over” the leader in question and that many of my clients have used to great effect in their own unique situations.
First, use this simple but powerful framework to help you prioritize and organize the actions you take to strengthen your “respected-quotient”.
It’s based on three critical questions:
- What can you give to earn respect?
- What should you resist to earn respect?
- What should you exude to earn respect?
Give, Resist, Exude. That’s your framework.
Now, we populate this framework with the characteristics and behaviors that social science teaches us most commonly draw universal respect. I’ve combed through reams of research to identify these themes for you.
Here’s what we get when we do that:
Give: more than you get, your time and knowledge, praise/credit, the extra 10 percent always, your POV and stick by it, feedback, your word and keep it, respect
Resist: credit, gossip/sharing secrets, over-apologizing, negativity, blaming
Exude: professionalism, accountability, mastery, transparency/authenticity, confidence, care/empathy, collaboration, a “class-act” vibe (respect, integrity, humility, calm)
Finally, pick the things from this now populated framework that come natural to you and amplify them. Also, pick a few things that you need to work on and that you’re most passionate about improving upon–and improve them.
You don’t need to master every item in the framework and try to be all things to everyone. Earning respect must come from an authentic place if you want to accomplish your mission and still feel whole.
If you’ve lost respect because of mistakes you’ve made in the past, a) you might be O.J. Simpson, and/or b) all you can do is address those mistakes and work to regain respect over time. Psychology teaches us that people naturally want to like and respect other people. If you’ve put up barriers to that end, work hard to tear them down with consistent and thoughtful behavior in the areas above.
They’ll come around.