September 15th, 2017

Written by Katy Winship

This month, as part of our newly devised month of SepTEAMber we are looking into helping teams of the UK collaborate and work better together. An essential part of team work is ensuring that team members have mutual respect. So in honour of SepTEAMber we’ve devised a guide to what respect is and what R.E.S.P.E.C.T stands for.

R for Responsibility

As humans we have obligations to be responsible for our own actions. We are all responsible for setting the bar to what level of respect is given to and by us. In the workplace respect must be given to each other and often precedence is set by the head of the organisation. If a boss respects their workers they are much more likely to have a more loyal workforce than one that doesn’t. Their respect sets the tone for the rest of the company’s standards.

We are all responsible for both our actions and our reactions.

We alone have control of these things and let’s face it there aren’t many things that we can control. If we make mistakes it is our responsibility and nobody else’s to right the wrong. If you have been disrespectful you are in charge of apologising and making amends and future steps to control the respect that you dish out in future.

E for Equality

Respect and equality run side by side, you can’t have one without the other. Both parties must give and receive respect in order to be seen as equals.

Respect is a two way street not a one way alley and in order to get respect it must be earnt.

Equality is only attained when there is an established mutual respect even when there are obvious differences in culture, age, gender, religion and ethnicity. In the workplace it shouldn’t matter what position you have in the company; whether at the bottom or top you should be treated with respect and treat others with respect. If you feel you are at the bottom of the chain don’t blur the lines of admiration and respect. You can admire someone but still command their respect. If this is not something you experience then you need to redress the balance, if you can’t then, sadly, maybe you need to leave.

S for Standards

Standards start to slip if we don’t respect one another. Keep your standards high and give respect even when you don’t receive it and you think the receiver doesn’t deserve it.

Showing a lack of respect for people is a moral and ethical issue.

Take the moral high ground if they disrespect you and still show respect for them, don’t allow other people’s behaviour to influence your good manners. If you disagree with somebody the phrase “with all due respect” can be handy although it’s often overused and wrongly used. As humans we live in a civilised society so disrespect should be handled in a civilised way. Basically, don’t lower yourself to the low standards that other people unable to show respect have.

P for Positivity

Mutual respect spreads positivity. Delivering negative feedback in a positive way with respect and a smile (i.e. constructive criticism) is more likely to achieve better results and a positive outcome than getting angry about it.

Saying "thanks" when people don’t expect it has a real positive impact and is something that is so simple and easy to deliver.

Once you fall into the cycle of disrespecting others you are destroying your own inner peace and upsetting the people around you. It can really make a big impact in the workplace- especially when it comes from the top. Draconian measures such as putting the fear of God into the workforce are much less common today as studies have found that leaders who are threatening or intimidating actually diminish employee productivity.

E for Empathy

Don’t forget that empathy is different to sympathy. Being able to put yourself in other people’s shoes is essential in understanding others and the way they are. Imagine what would happen if a Doctor were to lose patience with someone they didn’t realise had a learning disability, they don’t empathise with them and their problem, they don’t treat them with respect and patience and then they find out after their consultation that the person has a disability. The Doctor would have acted with no respect and would have let their standards slip because of their short fuse and lack of understanding. Apart from anything else they would feel terrible!

Now, I’m not saying that this would have been OK had the person not been disabled- that’s not the point at all- the point is that understanding and relating to people, i.e. showing empathy, is key to respecting others as we should.

To enable empathy you must be able to step outside of your own emotions in order to view things from another person’s perspective.

Let’s consider it in a more relatable way. In our last blog we talked about our favourite teams; one of which was the Calgary 1988 Olympics Jamaican Bob Sled Team who were cheered when their sled crashed and they got up and walked away with their heads held high. To me, these guys became heroes because people can relate to that feeling of failure and so felt empathy for them and their wasted efforts. They got so much respect for carrying on because, as viewers, we can all relate and empathise to their feelings of failure.

C for Compassion

If you aren’t compassionate about other people you aren’t likely to be a respectful person. If you do care about your job, however, you will most likely need to learn (if you don’t already) how to handle people and show compassion. Compassion and empathy are closely related but compassion means that you show consideration in your actions and are able to be mindful, kind and show gratitude.
The problem with compassion and likewise respect is that we CHOOSE to show it. We choose to be responsible and treat others with respect and when we choose these things we show compassion.

T for Trust

Once someone shows you disrespect it is hard for you to trust them not to do it again.

Trust, like respect, is easily lost yet hard to be regained.

And the worst thing is that it usually occurs from things that ARE actually in our control.
When you have trust from another party it usually comes with boatloads of respect. If you are entrusted with a task that in itself is a mark of respect because you are perceived as honest and trustworthy. You are valued and you are seen to have integrity- which is a true mark of respect.