07 Jun R-E-S-P-E-C-T How to Make Sure You are Respected at Work
Even if you can’t ask for it like Aretha, you know how important it is to be respected at work. Whether you’re the least experienced or in the corner office, feeling valued and important can be worth more than your paycheck. And it can take doing just a few things right — or wrong – to gain or lose respect.
What you can do to get (and stay) respected at work:
Tidy typing. Email has become so routine and casual in personal and business life that it doesn’t seem like mail at all anymore. It is almost more common than not to skip opening with a salutation, or end the message with a closing. And really, it is almost acceptable to use incomplete sentences and abbreviations.
Except. It’s really not. While no one is likely to be unable to comprehend such informal messaging, people do notice. Learn to keep apart your personal emails to friends that announce “Hey grt sale @ Macy’s this wknd.” and emails to colleagues summarizing the weekly sales call. Think of it like wearing your weekend jeans to work – even if your office is casual, there’s a line between what you can do, and what you ought to.
This can be particularly difficult to remember if you’re relatively young – if email has always been part of your life, then you probably used it as a kid with friends first, and now have to learn to button up for the office.
Lone wolf woes. Not everyone is a people person, who thrives off being the center of the water cooler conversation and captain of the office softball team. But even if you are introverted, it’s important to make an effort to connect with others.
For jobs like sales or human resources, engaging with others is simply part of the day job. But if you have a role that allows you to be fairly independent, you work from home, or your team is dispersed across the country, you can become isolated.
Why does it matter so much if they are not your boss? Because opportunities come from unexpected places. Because you don’t know who might be your boss next. Or leave and start the next Amazon and need someone from Billing, or IT or Maintenance (hey, you never know).
You don’t have to become the best hitter on the softball team – but you could set up each year’s fantasy football or annual food drive, or other efforts that don’t require being a cheerleader, but help you build relationships across the office.
People who are introverts can be misread as aloof, or boring, or odd. You want to be known well enough for people to know you’re likeable and easy to work with. When there are great opportunities, it’s more likely you’ll be top of mind. And if there are layoffs, the harsh truth is that people also can be a bit more reluctant to part ways with people they like.
Be discreet. It’s become a look-at-me world. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just a true thing. Selfies on vacation (or just the bus), Instagram shots of last night’s dinner, Facebook posts ranting (or relishing) the latest political event, all announce to the world our interests and views. But at work, remember to dial it down.
Keep your desk free of political statements, keep photos to one or two tasteful, framed pictures of family or friends. If it’s acceptable to surf the web during lunch, that still doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be conservative in what you do – read up on ten ways to nurse a hangover at home.
It’s not so much that any one of these things reflects who you are. But in our fast-paced world with a lot of data being digested quickly, people who pass by your desk can easily glance at just one quick representation of who you are and make a decision, fair or not.
Being respected at work is easy to learn . . . but easy to lose.
Every office environment is different. You can easily observe others behavior and habits to see what is generally appropriate, and what gets raised eyebrows. A tech start-up will feel different from a global bank. A family business in the Midwest will have different expectations than a corporation in Manhattan. So if you want to be respected at work, you will have to see what works for you. And them.