4 Keys to Commanding Respect in Your Workplace

Excelling at a fast-paced job can be challenging especially when you feel like you are not being respected enough for your ideas and contributions.

But how do you earn the respect of those you work with? And how do you deal with public displays of disrespect?

Remember that respect is a two-way street so if you want to know why you might not be getting the respect you may want to stop and think about this: are you doing anything to disrespect others?

Some of the top offenders include interrupting others while they are speaking, refusing to admit your mistakes, and criticizing others publicly.

Interrupting others while they are speaking is the ultimate sign of disrespect. So if you are doing that you need to stop doing it immediately. Bite your tongue and spend your time actively listening to understand, not to reply.  You can add your two cents after hearing the other person, it is better to give them the floor and actively try to understand their perspective instead of talking over them.  In fact, if you listen well you might learn something that could help you to better understand that person or gain new insight from their perspective.

Refusing to admit your mistakes or worse, blaming them on others is a surefire way to make people lose respect for you. Humans are very imperfect creatures so mistakes are going to be made.  It is how those mistakes are dealt with that really matters.  We need to be accountable for what we do and so do others.  However, as long as the mistakes are “repaired” and not repeated, as they are opportunities to learn, all can be good.

If you pretend that you have never done anything wrong and then find ways to excuse your failures or blame them on others, you will lose the respect of everyone. Failure is only failure when you don’t learn anything from it, and you can’t learn anything when you pretend that you never actually failed.

Treating people poorly because their titles are lower than yours, only looking out for your own self-interest, refusing to listen to suggestions from others, and creating a toxic work environment are all issues that can break trust and harm relationships, which is surely going harm respect as well.

In Dale Carnegie’s seminal book, “How to Make Friends and Influence People,” he writes of a tyrant boss who eventually became willing to learn how to change his ways.

For years he had driven and criticized and condemned his employees without stint or discretion. Kindness, words of appreciation and encouragement were alien to his lips,” Carnegie explains in the book. “After studying the principles discussed in this book, this employer sharply altered his philosophy of life. His organization is now inspired by a new loyalty, a new enthusiasm, a new spirit of teamwork.”

After all, no one wants to deal with a bully at work.

Better to be humble, but not insecure.  There is a difference between being grounded and groveling.  If you are constantly putting yourself down in an effort to appear humble, you might run the risk of losing the respect of others, who could mistake your self-effacement for insecurity.

Be willing to admit your flaws, but do not focus on them. You should have some self-depreciation, but it should be paired with self-confidence. People generally will not respect a leader who appears insecure and continuously mentions their shortcomings. Show your human side but maintain a sense of bravado and self-assurance.

So, if you are constantly talking about what you don’t understand or what you are not good at, people might start to believe you.  Displaying confidence can go a long way.  Let your work speak for itself, and take pride in your accomplishments. Others will see your enthusiasm and respond positively.  Avoid sending mixed messages  Empty promises are a respect-killer in the workplace. If your coworkers can’t count on you to follow through, they are going to eventually stop listening.

What you actually do matters much more than what you say you are going to do. Anyone can talk a big game or over-promise, but the actual follow-through is what creates lasting success.  Leaders should “be consistent” to get respect.

If you find you lack credibility, it is probably because you are saying one thing and doing another. People do pay attention to what you say until you give them a reason not to by doing the opposite. You don’t have to be predictable, just don’t be a hypocrite. Always be honest and authentic.

Don’t micromanage! Hovering, literally or metaphorically is not effective.

Effective delegation is an important part of becoming a good leader. Understand that employees are looking to develop their skills, so when you delegate, give them an important task to accomplish. Then stand back and let them figure out how to do it. When you tell employees how to do the task, they feel mistrusted and perhaps worthless. It is difficult to trust a leader who can’t let go.  In the end, they just feel like, why don’t you just do it yourself!


Sandy Chernoff
Sandy Chernoff
SANDY'S 30 years of didactic and clinical teaching in study clubs and continuing dental education, coupled with her almost 40 years of Dental Hygiene practice bring a wealth of experience to her interactive soft skills workshops. With her education background she easily customizes interactive sessions to suit the specific needs of her clients. Her energetic and humorous presentation style has entertained and informed audiences from Victoria to New York City. Sandy’s client list includes law firms, teaching institutions, volunteer and professional organizations and conferences, businesses, and individuals. Her newest project is turning her live workshops into e-learning programs using an LMS platform. Her teaching and education background have helped her to produce meaningful and somewhat interactive courses for the learners wanting the convenience of e-learning options. As the author of 5 Secrets to Effective Communication, Sandy has demonstrated her ability to demystify the complexities of communication so that the reader can learn better strategies and approaches which will greatly improve their communication skills and ultimately reduce conflict, resentment, disappointment, complaining, and confusion. As a result, the reader will be able to increase productivity, efficiency and creativity, improve all the relationships in their lives and ultimately enjoy a happier, healthier existence! Sandy blogs regularly on her two websites on the various soft skills topics that are featured in her workshops and e-learning programs.

DO YOU HAVE THE "WRITE" STUFF? If you’re ready to share your wisdom of experience, we’re ready to share it with our massive global audience – by giving you the opportunity to become a published Contributor on our award-winning Site with (your own byline). And who knows? – it may be your first step in discovering your “hidden Hemmingway”. LEARN MORE HERE


  1. As always your insights are spot on, Aldo and we are usually on the same page. One of the key elements to a successful and long lasting business is a good internal culture that is respectful, supportive, encouraging and acknowledging. If employees are happy, they are more productive, efficient, creative and healthy and much less likely to leave. In addition, if they are happy and proud of their company they will also be more likely to provide excellent customer service.

  2. To be respected, to obtain esteem and consideration from others, we must be the first to have them for ourselves. Disrespect feeds on insecurity, which arises from little or misunderstood self-knowledge.
    Becoming aware of us, of our value and our limits (personal and professional) is the starting point for obtaining respect in the workplace. But in building a healthy, positive and productive work environment, human relations play a fundamental role, so it need always showing ethical and professional behavior.
    In practice, this “rule” translates into not invading the work and skills of others, in doing what we do and being collaborative. But also in avoiding making or spreading gossip, in promoting team play, resorting to dialogue and direct confrontation, which are the key to avoiding the emergence of tensions and grudges. It also means recognizing one’s mistakes (and any consequences) and having the humility to ask for advice and help.
    These principles apply to everyone and primarily to people in a driving position for whom I believe it is appropriate recognizing own vulnerability to experiences as the shame, judgment, reprimand, asking in order to learn. Admit his own limitations is the key to everything, is a sign of courage and ability to collaborate.