If you avoid these 10 behaviors, you’ll be more respected at work

by Isabel Cabrera | December 25, 2023, 3:17 pm

Navigating the professional world can be a bit of a minefield, to say the least.

In a fast-paced work environment dominated by different personalities, it can be a challenge to know how to act in order to gain respect.

How exactly do you do that? Well, as much as it’s about what you do, it’s also about what you avoid. 

Here are 10 behaviors you need to avoid to be more respected at work.

1) You’re always late

Let’s start with the most obvious, most surefire way to lose respect at work – being constantly late. 

I mean, it’s pretty basic – if you’re always late for meetings, deadlines, or just showing up to work, you shouldn’t be surprised if you don’t earn a stellar reputation at work. 

I learned this the hard way myself. In my first job, I wasn’t the ultimate professional I am today (ahem!). I would stroll into the office around 10 minutes late almost every day. 

Initially, I didn’t think much of it. After all, it was only 10 minutes! The important thing is I showed up, right? 

But over time, I started noticing a change in my colleagues’ behavior towards me. They seemed distant and not as friendly as before.

One day, my boss pulled me aside and explained how my constant tardiness was affecting the team’s perception of me. He said it gave off the impression that I didn’t value their time or the work we were doing together. 

That conversation was a wake-up call. That’s when I understood the impact of punctuality. That it was about showing respect for others and their time. 

Believe me, if you want to be more respected at work, always be on time. All it takes is a little discipline and thoughtfulness, but the effort will pay off because people will see that you take your work seriously.

2) You engage in office gossip

Indulging in office gossip is another way to lose credibility in the workplace. It may seem like harmless chatter, but it can be damaging to both your personal reputation and the work environment.

In fact, a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that individuals who gossip at work are seen as weaker and less influential. 

According to researcher Sally Farley, “High-frequency negative gossipers emerged as the least powerful and least likable targets.”

This is because gossiping can create a negative atmosphere and undermine trust within a team.

Moreover, engaging in office gossip shows a lack of respect for your colleagues’ privacy. It can also lead to misconceptions and unnecessary conflicts.

By refraining from participating in workplace gossip and focusing on your work, you can foster a more positive and respectful work environment

3) You’re unresponsive to communication

Similarly, in a professional setting, being unresponsive to communication can be seen as disrespectful. 

This behavior includes not responding to emails, calls, or messages in a timely manner, or even ignoring them completely.

Think about it – when you have unaddressed concerns about a service you’ve availed of, don’t you feel angry with the service provider? Don’t you feel disrespected and lose respect for them in return?  

Now turn the tables around and apply that same principle to your workplace situation. Every time you don’t respond to a concern, you could be delaying someone else’s progress or causing undue stress.

If you really can’t address the concern right now, a simple acknowledgment will do. People just want to know you’ve heard them and will respond more fully in due course. 

4) You ignore constructive criticism

While we’re on the topic of communication, how do you receive constructive criticism? 

If your default mode is to ignore it, well, that could be losing you points in the respect department. 

I know how easy it is to take feedback personally, especially when it’s about your work performance. You may feel attacked or belittled, but that’s usually not the intention.

That said, it’s time to set your personal feelings aside. Constructive criticism is not the attack you think it is. On the contrary, it’s meant to help you grow and improve in your role. 

Ignoring it can give off the impression that you’re not open to learning or improving, which isn’t a trait that garners respect.

Moreover, you might miss out on opportunities to better yourself and advance in your career.

People might view you as arrogant or unapproachable if you consistently brush off their suggestions or advice. 

5) You don’t acknowledge your mistakes

Speaking of arrogance, let’s be brutally honest here: nobody likes a know-it-all. 

Especially in a professional environment, not acknowledging your mistakes can lead to a serious loss of respect.

Look, we all mess up sometimes – it’s part of being human. But the problem arises when we refuse to admit our errors. This not only hampers our personal growth but also affects how others perceive us.

When you make a mistake and try to cover it up, deny it, or blame it on others, people will see you as unaccountable and unreliable. It’s a clear sign that you’re not taking responsibility for your actions.

On the other hand, owning up to your mistakes shows maturity, humility, and integrity. It shows that you’re human, just like everyone else, and that you’re willing to learn from your errors.

It might be uncomfortable, but admitting when you’re wrong can actually boost your credibility and earn you more respect from your colleagues.

6) You’re not respectful of others’ opinions

Workplaces are melting pots of ideas, and each person brings their unique viewpoint to the table. When you dismiss or belittle someone else’s opinion, it can make them feel undervalued and unheard.

Remember, every person you work with has had different experiences and learned different things. Their opinions are shaped by their unique journey, just like yours.

Which means – they might have some ideas you don’t!

Being open to those ideas and opinions go a long way in making your work environment positive. You’ll encourage open communication, teamwork, and mutual respect. 

At the end of the day, everyone wants to feel heard and valued. If you can give them that, you’ll undoubtedly gain more respect at work.

7) You’re always complaining

We’ve all been there: a bad day at work, a difficult client, a project going off the rails. It’s easy to fall into the trap of negativity and start complaining.

But let’s be real, nobody enjoys being around a chronic complainer. It brings down the mood and creates a pessimistic work environment.

A coworker of mine was one such person. He could take even the best news and poke holes in it! 

He was definitely a downer, and pretty soon, almost everyone in the office steered clear of him. 

If complaining is a struggle of yours, try to focus on solutions rather than problems. When faced with a challenge, look for ways to overcome it rather than dwelling on the issue itself.

That way, you’ll create a more positive and productive work environment. Plus, it’s much easier to relate to someone who’s proactive and optimistic!

8) You don’t celebrate others’ successes

Imagine you’ve just nailed a big project or received a well-deserved promotion. You’re beaming with pride, only to notice that none of your colleagues share your joy. Feels pretty deflating, right?

Being part of a team means celebrating each other’s victories – big or small. 

When you fail to acknowledge or celebrate your colleague’s successes, it can come off as though you’re indifferent or even envious.

While our careers can sometimes feel like a race, it’s not always about winning. Sometimes, it’s about cheering on from the sidelines and sharing in the joy of others.

If you can do that, then you’ll be bringing good vibes along with you and be more respected

9) You don’t own your role

Okay, this one’s a little tricky. I’m realistic enough to know that not everyone is in a job they love. Some of us are just in it for the paycheck. 

While that’s understandable, it’s also an attitude that won’t likely earn other people’s respect. 

If you want to stand out, you’ll need to show some passion and dedication. Learn new skills, ask for more responsibilities, go the extra mile.

When you start treating your role with the respect it deserves, others will follow suit. And remember, there’s no such thing as a small role – only small actors.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, here’s a Martin Luther King quote that’s been so helpful in shaping my work ethic: 

“If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music … Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.”

In short, whatever your role is, own it. Be the best damn [insert your role] you can be. 

10) You lack empathy

Lastly, if there’s one thing that stands above all else when it comes to gaining respect at work, it’s empathy. 

Being able to understand and share the feelings of others is not just a nice-to-have quality, it’s a must-have.

In fact, did you know that, according to research, empathy is the most powerful leadership skill? 

That’s because empathy allows you to: 

  • Connect with your colleagues on a deeper level
  • Understand their challenges
  • Offer support when needed
  • Foster a sense of community and mutual respect

Without empathy, you risk coming across as cold and unapproachable. So take the time to listen to your colleagues, show interest in their lives, and try to understand their perspective.

Because at the end of the day, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

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