We’re living in a day and age of mindfulness. We’re all becoming acutely aware of the impact that our thoughts, words and actions have on ourselves and the people around us. And we’re still learning to be more respectful. Some people are further down the track than others, but there need be no judgement.
The Short Guides team has worked in training and development for decades, and if there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that everyone can learn new habits in the workplace. Developing and fostering a respectful atmosphere is a gradual process, and you can start at any time.
When there is respect in the workplace, there is trust and safety. When there is trust and safety, creativity and inspiration have the space to grow. This leads to increased productivity, more creative and inspired work, happier staff and clients, and ultimately better outcomes for your organisation.
Here are 7 ways to develop respectful working relationships.
1. Build trust
Trust builds when people feel at ease and safe with each other. When you’re in a meeting discussing projects and the business, and you’re genuinely engaged in what others have to say, it shows and it builds trust. The way to help yourself be more engaged is to be fully present in the meeting and attentive to what is developing. This will not only build trust with your team members, but it also makes sure you don’t miss anything and that you remain a part of whatever is evolving.
2. Listen with two ears and one mouth
Have you ever noticed that when someone talks at you, you shut down and switch off? The conversation becomes a one-way stream and you’d rather be doing something else. A good habit to develop is to listen twice as much as you speak. You don’t need to have all the answers in any conversation.
Listening with attention and presence will often uncover ideas and solutions that you may not have heard of before, simply because you are not crowding the communication with too much talking and not enough listening. Trust is developed when the conversation between two people flows both ways, unless it’s a therapy session of course!
3. Have empathy
Everyone wants to be listened to when they are speaking. They also want to be understood. It doesn’t matter if you do or don’t understand what the other person might be trying to communicate, what matters more is that you are striving to. This is what it means to have empathy for another in the workplace. You are respecting them enough to care about what they want to get across to you.
4. Don’t gossip
Nothing positive has ever come of gossiping and if you have an issue with someone, do your best to address it with them directly, not with another person. Gossip will undermine any respectful workplace very quickly and erode trust.
5. Work toward positive outcomes
The workplace is always problem solving, finding better and more efficient ways to develop a product or service, reduce operational costs and improve profits. Each meeting that you have in the workplace, directly or indirectly is working toward a common goal. When you have an open attitude of stiving for a positive outcome, even if you don’t arrive at the conclusion in that particular meeting, you’ll have gone one step closer.
6. Be inclusive and accepting
Creating a culture at work that is inclusive and accepting will help your team and co-workers feel at ease. The people around you will be more comfortable to share their ideas and solutions to problems that will move the business forward. When people feel included and accepted, they feel valued and much more likely to contribute more generously to your organisation.
7. Good communication in all forms
Whether the communication is face it face, an online meeting, or via email, keep an open mind and apply all these principals. Each interaction regardless of the medium, is an opportunity to develop a respectful relationship.
Have patience and give yourself and others time to develop more respectful communication and relationships in the workplace. When an organisation wants to improve these types of cultural characteristics, it is always up to a small few who need to take the lead. Will this be you?
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