Nobody likes to work with a jerk – someone who is rude, who says things to hurt others or discriminate against them, someone who gossips or makes inappropriate jokes, or someone whose short temper leads to mean or hurtful things being said during a disagreement. All of these behaviors are forms of disrespectful communication; all these things undermine an employee’s success at work. On the other hand, being a respectful communicator paves the way to workplace success.
To demonstrate respect in the workplace through your communication, begin with common-sense behaviors to show basic decency: strive to speak and behave in ways that won’t offend others, attempt to honor and understand others’ viewpoints, and take the time to make sure you understand what someone else has said or written. However, two other, less-obvious communication skills are also important to show respect in the workplace.
First, talk with someone instead of about them. Too much time can be wasted trying to straighten out a situation that we have not confronted directly. This means avoiding gossip and complaining about others behind their back; it also means avoiding stewing about something without bringing it to the attention of the person we are upset with. It is always more respectful to say what we have to say directly, instead of talking about it with others.
Second, communicate respectfully during disagreements. This is the true test of your competency as a respectful communicator; while it may be easy to be respectful when discussions are calm and light-hearted, when an argument arises, it’s much harder. There will always be disagreements in the workplace. We depend on others to get our jobs done, and we spend a lot of time in close contact with people who we did not necessarily choose to be with. When arguments happen, we need to be sure to treat each other with respect. Tone things down, listen and look for a solution. Angry communications will never be effective in resolving an issue to the satisfaction of both parties. Instead, find a way to work through things in a calmer framework in order to find the best solution.
For an in-depth look at how to communicate to show respect in the workplace, CRM Learning’s The Respectful Communicator uses realistic scenarios to teach 5 communication guidelines that help minimize misunderstandings and promote a respectful, inclusive workplace.