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Respectful behavior is exhibited in many ways. Understanding and using such behaviors makes a workplace more productive and pleasant and less stressful. When people show respect for one another and work together as a cohesive unit, it is easier to meet company goals because employees are more engaged in work vs. wasting time on petty disagreements that are time killers and morale destroyers. Follow several conduct rules to ensure you show respect for your coworkers.
Use Everyday Etiquette
Showing respect to coworkers starts with everyday etiquette. Little things like coming to work on time, greeting coworkers each day and smiling take little effort but go a long way in building positive working relationships. Other everyday polite behaviors include cleaning up after yourself in common work areas, not going overboard on perfume or cologne, not using loud or offensive language, not borrowing items without permission, not putting coworkers on the speaker phone without their knowledge or consent and always pulling your share of the workload.
Communicate with Care
Some people pride themselves on being crass when communicating with coworkers. They take joy in interrupting others just to get their point across or to express disagreement. You don’t have to agree with everyone and everything that’s said in a conversation, but showing respect means disagreeing with decorum. Respectful communication involves listening and letting a coworker express an opinion before weighing in. It also means not resorting to name-calling or hostile actions just because of disagreements.
Tame the Gossip Mill
Negative gossip and rumors are often based on hearsay rather than facts and can spread like wildfire and ruin or damage relationships beyond repair. You can show respect to coworkers by refusing to be part of the rumor mill. Do this by not repeating a rumor or passing along gossip, and by correcting a rumor when you know it runs contrary to the facts. When conversations turn to rumors or unsubstantiated remarks, simply state that you prefer not to gossip and excuse yourself from the discussion.
Stay Clear of Personal Boundaries
A friendly workplace environment does not mean coworkers are your close personal friends and that you should freely share everything. Professional behavior is still in order, even in casual conversations. This means steering clear of behavior or conversation that crosses personal boundaries. Show your coworkers respect by not sharing too much personal information, not invading their privacy when it comes to personal issues and respecting confidences of those who confide in you about personal matters such as divorce or illness.
Banish the Chronic Complainer Syndrome
Chronic complainers in the workplace see fault in just about everyone and everything. Instead of finding solutions to issues, they complain about them. This damaging behavior infuses the workplace with negativity. Respect your coworkers by resisting the urge to whine and complain about your job, the company or the people you work with. If there is an issue with a coworker, talk to the person face-to-face for resolution vs. slamming him behind his back. If there is an issue with a job duty, work it out with the boss.
- Duke University Office for Institutional Diversity: Enhancing Respect in a Diverse Workplace
- Affinity Health Systems EAP Handout: Respect and Civility at Work
- University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture: Getting Along with Co-workers
- American Library Association - Allied Professional Association Library Work Life: Cubicle Etiquette, Or How to Survive Life in a Cube
Deb Dupree has been an active writer throughout her career in the corporate world and in public service since 1982. She has written numerous corporate and educational documents including project reports, procedures and employee training programs. She has a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Tennessee.