Professional Examples of Respect in the Workplace

Published November 9, 2021
three coworkers discussing work project

It's important for individuals to behave in a respectful manner at all times and in all types of situations in the workplace. From peer-to-peer employee interactions and communication between employees and managers, to encounters with customers, potential customers, and vendors, respect is required for an organization to have a healthy culture.

20 Ways to Show Respect in the Workplace

Knowing that respect is important in the workplace is one thing, actually demonstrating respect at work is another matter entirely. Sometimes examples provide the best way to illustrate a concept. Consider the following examples of respectful business communication and workplace behavior, then ensure your actions are aligned.

  • Listen to others - When others are talking with you or sharing ideas in meetings, really listen to what they have to say. Carefully consider their words and intended meaning, then respond accordingly.
  • Pay attention to nonverbal cues - Listening involves more than paying attention to words. Tune in to people's nonverbal behaviors, as this can help you develop a deeper understanding of what they mean.
  • Maintain an appropriate tone - Use a polite, appropriate tone for all communication. The workplace is no place for yelling, screaming, sarcasm, or put-downs. Disagree when warranted, but do so respectfully.
  • Be open to feedback - When people provide you with constructive feedback, view it as an opportunity to become even better at your job. Welcome feedback and take it to heart rather than getting defensive or angry.
  • Express appreciation - Let co-workers and managers know that you appreciate the things they do that make it possible for you to succeed in your job. Write a thank-you note to your boss. Tell customers that you appreciate their business.
  • Recognize others - Pay attention to the positive contributions of others and recognize them for their work. Let your boss know when you become aware that someone else has done a fantastic job or tell that person directly.
  • Be courteous - Be polite and show consideration to others, regardless of their position in the organization or whether you work directly with them. There is no substitute for courteous behavior.
  • Reply promptly - When someone leaves or sends you a message, reply promptly. Even if you don't know the answer to their inquiry, let them know that you are looking into it, and give them an expected timeframe for a reply.
  • Tell the truth - Be honest in your dealings with others. If you make a mistake, admit it and fix it. Don't try to cover up errors or otherwise hide the truth.
  • Be inclusive - Value workplace diversity and strive to ensure that all members of the team feel welcome and valued for who they are and their unique contributions to the team. Do not judge or look down on those who are different from you.
  • Welcome newbies - Help new team members get acclimated by introducing yourself to them and taking steps to ensure they know they are welcome. Include them in team activities and offer assistance.
  • Avoid gossip - Do not spread rumors or participate in gossip about co-workers or others with whom you interact at work. Whether such things are true or false, participating in gossip does not demonstrate respect for others.
  • Go to the source - Avoid talking behind people's backs. If you have a concern with someone, speak directly with that person. That shows respect for the other person and is the only way the concern can actually be addressed.
  • Speak up - If you become aware of a problem with the workflow or a policy violation, don't just assume that someone else will handle it. Instead, speak up in a manner consistent with your company's policies.
  • Offer to help - When you are caught up with your work and notice that others are struggling to meet deadlines, be proactive in offering to help them out. If you're not sure who needs assistance, ask your boss.
  • Be reliable - When you are responsible for doing something or otherwise agree to help, follow through with what you are supposed to do. This will help ensure that others see you as someone who is reliable.
  • Go beyond the basics - Don't just do the bare minimum to get by. Instead, show respect for your company, colleagues, and customers by going above and beyond the bare minimum to produce outstanding work.
  • Explain why - When you need to delegate work or ask for changes, explain why the tasks you are requesting are necessary, rather than just stating that they have to be done. Taking the time to explain "why" rather than just "what" conveys respect.
  • Manage your time effectively - Keep up with your work and meet all deadlines. Failing to manage your time effectively can cause problems for others, something that would represent disrespect for others' time and workloads.
  • Build your employee brand - Think about how you want others to view you, and behave in a manner that will inspire them to see you in that light. Your actions are what determine how others will perceive you.

Importance of Respect in the Workplace

two women having a respectful conversation at work

Respect is important in every workplace. It impacts both the work environment and the quality of work. If you have the unfortunate experience of encountering someone who does not behave respectfully, that doesn't mean you should reciprocate in kind. Instead, you should set an appropriate example of respectful workplace behavior so that you are a model employee. This will help you stand out as a beneficial and respectful member of the team, a factor that can positively impact your career success.

Build a Positive Workplace With Mutual Respect

It's important for you to show respect to others, and for them to show respect to you as well. When the people in a workplace consistently show respect to each other, then the organization's culture will be a positive one that is characterized by mutual respect. You can only directly control your own actions, but the way you behave does influence other people. When you behave respectfully, you're letting people know that you expect the same in return.

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Professional Examples of Respect in the Workplace