Contrary to popular belief, neither a fancy job title nor years of experience will earn you respect at work.
There are five infallible ways to earn respect and gain credibility, regardless of the organization you’re in or the role you’ve been hired to do:
1. Be yourself and not your role.
Sometimes people think they must create a persona in order to command the respect of others. Bosses think they should be authority figures, salespeople think they should be fast talkers, engineers think they should be nerds, and so forth.
However, who you really are is more likely to command respect than your ability to play a role that’s unnatural to you. People have a natural ability to detect fakery, and see fakers as untrustworthy, insecure, and ultimately insignificant.
On the other hand, people are drawn to individuals who truly are what they seem to be. Being yourself (and at your best for whoever you are) is therefore the foundation of earning respect.
2. Show curiosity about other people.
If you’re curious about other people, you listen, truly listen, to what they have to say. When people realize that they’re really being heard, they’ll tell you what’s important (to them) about their jobs, their dreams, their fears, their goals.
That knowledge not only gives perspective on how to do your job better, but also helps you see how you can best help others. That’s essential, because whenever you help other people, it increases their respect for you.
In a larger sense, curiosity about other people helps you do just about any job better. Bosses more easily manage people when they understand them, salespeople more easily discover customer needs, and engineers even build products that more people want to use.
3. Give credit where credit is due.
There are times (such as when you’re updating your resume) when you’ll want to toot your own horn. However, if you want your coworkers to respect you, you’ll make those times few and far between.
In business, almost every accomplishment is a team effort. When you publicly praise the people who helped you get your job done, they (and everyone else) will be far more likely to help you next time around.
More important, giving credit where it’s due shows respect for others, which in turn creates more respect for you.
4. Dress appropriately for the job.
Rightly or wrongly, people judge based on the visual signals you provide to them. When you meet people for the first time, they take in everything about you: your clothes, watch, jewelry, briefcase, makeup, skin tone, facial expression, and so forth.
It is therefore in your interest to think about how the overall “package” is likely to seem to the other person. Consciously create a set of visual signals that is likely to communicate that you’re a person with whom the other person would want to do business.
5. Think before you speak.
Nobody respects motor-mouths. Therefore, whenever you intend to say something, take a moment to frame your thoughts and decide how best to communicate them.
Pausing before you speak not only keeps you from half‐articulating half‐baked ideas, it also makes you seem thoughtful. And if you’re responding to somebody’s comments, it shows you’ve taken the time to digest what you’ve heard.
[en]Thinking before speaking also prevents you from spreading gossip and saying things that you’ll later regret. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt./en]