team building in the office

Showing Respect In The Workplace

To grow a successful, innovative business, it’s important to build a work culture that highly values respect. Showing respect in the workplace is a fundamental human virtue that positively impacts productivity, engagement, and creativity – all qualities that help employees thrive and work towards a common goal. All business owners should provide new and current employees with respect in the workplace training that covers how to behave and interact in a way that fosters a desirable work culture.

Below are three ways we have identified as the most important areas where employees should practice respect within an organization: communication, conflict resolution, and team building activities. Each one of these areas helps employees and leadership learn how to demonstrate respect to coworkers through daily interaction, creative collaboration, and even when conflict is involved.

Respectful Communication

It’s critical to cultivate a work culture that fosters respectful communication in order to support a comfortable environment. We know what you may be thinking: Duh, of course! This might seem like an obvious way to show respect in the workplace, but sometimes it can be difficult to identify offensive communication, as it is uniquely defined by every individual.

Communication is a slippery slope. We use communication to build relationships and, in work environments, that helps to build retention and productivity. As people, we gravitate towards some easier than others, because of similar interests, curiosity or people just naturally connecting. Just as in marriages or friendships, work relationships can be going great and then one day everything changes. You ask “Why” and there could be a multitude of reasons. Communication is sometimes (most times) a factor.

Express Yourself

To respect oneself and others, communication is key. If you like or don’t like something, share it once, twice, maybe even three times. If you don’t like something and you have expressed it on an equal level conversation, then escalate it if you have a structure in place. However, never expressing your feelings or thoughts or going along for a period of time with a behavior having said nothing, you are disrespecting yourself and your coworker. If conflict is escalated before a respectful conversation was ever tried, more conflict and distrust will arise.

Keep The Content Light

Oftentimes, jokes can provoke offensive language when they involve race, gender, sex or ethnicity. Each employee has a different threshold for jokes until it reaches a point of personal distaste or even insult. It’s important for jokes to maintain clean, fun content during working hours, and to be sure that they don’t intimidate the shy, offend the conservative, or demean a group of people.

Similarly, conversations about religion or politics often assume significant generalizations about people that may offend those involved in the conversation. Also, these topics can be interpreted differently based on personal belief systems and can spark unintended emotions. It is best practice to avoid discussing religious or political opinions in a professional setting, as they can create divides between people – spoken or unspoken.

One final thought to follow in respectful conversations with fellow coworkers is to not curse. Bottom line is cursing is inappropriate and deters others’ respect. So let’s elevate our work conversations and try to keep the curse words in the car during traffic and out of the office – please.

Conflict Resolution Processes

Conflict is a part of working relationships where respect is probably tested the most. As any working adult knows, conflict in the workplace is inevitable and actually healthy to an extent, when there is a system to resolve it appropriately and respectfully. Defining a clear process that anticipates conflict is an initial step to solve problems in a manner that nurtures respect between workers. There are two types of conflict: healthy conflicts that contribute to organizational success and unhealthy conflicts that disrupt personal emotions. Though the healthy conflict is preferred and easier to manage, it’s absolutely important to have a process in place to resolve both types of conflict.

For smaller companies that do not have a Human Resources department to manage employee conflict, it’s important to assign each employee a point of escalation for conflict resolution assistance. This point of escalation should assess the interpersonal conflict the employee has with another, and provide advice on how to proceed. It’s important for employees to have a point of contact for conflict resolution assistance so they don’t feel compelled to confront another employee disrespectfully or put their job at risk. By giving a specialist those responsibilities, employees can trust that conflict will be handled in the best way that aligns with company policy. This, in turn, will lend to a less stressful work environment and controlled conflict resolution that is healthy and respectful to all.

Team Building Exercises

Another way to promote respect in the workplace is through team building activities that can strengthen relationships, build trust, and inspire creative collaboration between coworkers. Team building exercises are a great way for employees to learn each other’s unique communication styles in a casual and fun environment and later apply those skills in a company setting. By giving employees the opportunities to engage with each other in new ways, they can build connections that will ease working together across all environments.

Companies should choose a team building exercise that fits the work culture and interests of employees. For instance, a company with a millennial majority might enjoy a volunteer service team building activity. Or a company with a mixed age range might enjoy photography lessons or sand sculpting. Other great team building activities include interactive workshops, photo tours, metal making, group dance lessons, or other ideas that can be customized to the interests or needs of your team.

Rock Paper Team provides many different types of positively focused team building activities for corporations that will promote respect in the workplace, reduce stress, and broaden collegial working relationships. For more information, call us at 212-925-5604.

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