Do you feel your not getting the respect you deserve at work? Do you wonder why you’re not respected? To help understand why some people have a difficult time getting respect at work and for tips on getting respect at work, I have interviewed psychotherapist Susanne Slay-Westbrook LPC-S, LMFT-S .
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I’m a psychotherapist who’s been in practice for 28 years. Over that time I’ve had the opportunity to work in a wide range of settings and with an equally diverse group of people and challenges. I have found in this diversity many blessings and learning opportunities. I too have a challenge: Cerebral Palsy. As a result, I use a power wheelchair for my primary mobility.
In 2001, I wrote a book, A World of Respect, in which I talk about the need we all have for respect in all facets of our lives, from home to school, work, in our communities and our world. I also practice and teach an approach to doing therapy called Respect-Focused Therapy.
In our practice, also called A World of Respect, we offer psychotherapy and marriage and family counseling, mediation, Ethics and Cultural Competency training and other workshops, as well as LPC and LMFT Supervision. Please visit us at www.aworldofrespect.com.”
Why do some people have a difficult time getting respect at work?
“I suspect that we all have different reasons as well as different experiences of feeling disrespected, but it is a pretty universal feeling, especially in the workplace.
For some, it is about the ‘office politics.’ The workplace is often like a big family, an environment that can be supportive and nurturing, but often also has varying degrees of dysfunction, including pecking orders, power plays, gossip, cut-throat competition, outright bullying and discrimination. All of these factors can fluctuate in different social and political contexts, at different times, and with different policies, management and personnel.
For others, it can be more personal. A personality conflict with a coworker or manager. A sexual harassment situation or r maybe just a feud or disagreement that turns ugly. The problem is, if these smaller, more isolated situations don’t get resolved, they can and often do mushroom into much larger and more uncomfortable, if not volatile circumstances.”
What are some tips for getting respect at work?
“If the problem is systemic, that is, it’s pervasive throughout the organization and is perpetuated by bad policy and/or bad management, then obviously the individual has less power to correct the problem. And if the conflict he or she is having is with a superior, a manager or supervisor, then the power differential often makes it more difficult to resolve.
But, here are some tips for being a more respected employee:
The first and most obvious is to be respectful yourself. From your appearance'”clean, and professionally suited for your work environment'”to your words and actions. The old fashioned concept that most of us learned as kids as the Golden Rule, ‘Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself,’ really does have power and can be very effective in terms of receiving more respect.
Second, it’s generally a good idea to avoid unnecessary conflict. Stay away from the office politics, buzz and gossip as much as possible. And keep out of the headlights of such behavior, by not offering any ammunition; when you’re at work do your job, be professional and courteous. Finally, be really careful about what you text, email, and put on social media. That’s like writing with indelible ink, it never goes away.
Sometimes there will be unavoidable, even necessary conflict where you must speak up, either because it’s just the right thing to do, you have a good idea that will benefit the organization or you just need to defend yourself. Pick your battles carefully, but when you do, be assertive, not apologetic, but not aggressive either. This is where a lot of people need a little help. We often are not taught this skill of balancing confidence with non-brashness or non-intimidation, but it’s a very good set of tools to develop.
What type of professional help is available for someone that is having a difficult time getting respect at work?
“If the problem is systemic, if it’s the company or organization at large that is dysfunctional or toxic via bad policies, management or both, then there’s probably less that can be done unless you can promote or suggest larger changes to management and/or organized labor.
If you are in direct conflict with another or several other employees, you can try to work it out yourself or ask your supervisor for help with conflict management. If neither option is adequate, then you can ask for help through your Human Resources department or Ombudsman office, if your company has one. The process of mediation can often be very helpful in these situations.
Finally, if you’re a bit more introspective and recognize that there may be some things that you can change within yourself so that you can be more respectful of yourself as well as others, then you may want to consider getting some counseling or psychotherapy. Many employers offer EAP as a benefit, which means a limited number of free sessions, and/or insurance, which will pay a portion of the cost after the deductible has been met. An investment in yourself in this way may have many payoffs in your career and your future.”
Thank you Susanne for doing the interview on tips for getting respect at work.
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