There's a difference between being liked and being respected. Ideally, you'll be both.
But according to Lynn Taylor, a US workplace expert and the author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behaviour and Thrive in Your Job," being respected is at least partly about being "steadfast in your convictions." Meaning you "don't always need to please everyone" with your decisions. We asked Taylor and Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of "The Humour Advantage," about the best — and quickest — ways to earn respect at work. Read on for their top tips.
Kerr called it a "chicken-and-egg relationship": If you respect other people, they'll be more inclined to respect you, and so on.
Taylor emphasised the importance of treating everyone with equal respect, whether they're above or below you in the corporate hierarchy.
"As soon as we become known as a person who can't be trusted to keep their word, it's one of the quickest ways to lose respect," Kerr said.
Taylor recommended trying not only to meet your deadlines, but to beat them whenever possible. "Other people are counting on you," she said.
One great way to lose people's respect? Walk around telling them "how great you are," Kerr said.
Don't let your ego get in the way, he added; be confident that if you're doing a good job, your coworkers will notice.
Let's say you know a coworker is having a hard time finishing a particular project. Taylor said you might recommend that they talk to someone in another department with the appropriate skill set.
"Going out of your way a little bit is the right thing to do," Taylor said. "And it also, not so surprisingly, comes back to you in more ways than you can imagine."
That said, Taylor said people will respect you even more if you set some reasonable boundaries when it comes to helping others: "Don't be a doormat."
People will be more inclined to trust you, Taylor said, if you display occasional vulnerability.
"Being honest and direct is a really important component of respect," Kerr said. "We don't tend to respect people who are vague or wishey-washy."
Even if your conversation partner doesn't quite agree with your position, the key is being "direct in a constructive way."
You never want to find yourself "settling for the lowest common denominator," Kerr said. Instead, you should always be searching for a better way to do your work.
Regardless of your position at your company, it's crucial to take ownership of your work — and your missteps. Don't "make excuses for things when something's gone off the rails," Kerr said.
In fact, Taylor mentioned a study she ran that found 91% of employees said they were more satisfied with their job when their boss admitted to mistakes.
Kerr has led surveys that found leaders who practice self-effacing humour tend to be more respected in the workplace. "I often say how ironic it is," he added, "that people who take themselves overly seriously, we tend not to take those people very seriously."
"Nobody respects bullies; nobody respects a pushy person," Kerr said.
Taylor said being kind can be as simple as saying "good morning" to your coworkers or asking about something big that's going on in their personal lives.
Be open to hearing other people's perspectives, Kerr said, and potentially changing your mind based on what you've learned.
Kerr said he's found in surveys that people's favourite bosses are typically the best listeners. Respondents have said things like, "I get the sense that when I’m talking, I’m the only person in the room."
Try to find the silver lining in every challenging situation. If you're known for having a positive attitude, you'll earn people's respect, Kerr said.
This behaviour is especially important for leaders, Kerr said. Be the type of boss who uses the term "we" instead of "I," and means it. Kerr said his surveys have consistently found that employees appreciate when their efforts are recognised and praised.
Find two or three values that are important to you, Kerr said, and never compromise on them. When people see that you stick to your principles, even if they disagree with those principles, they'll think, "I respect you still for holding your ground.
Reporting by Shana Lebowitz
Receive a single WhatsApp every morning with all our latest news: click here.
Also from Business Insider South Africa: