The cornerstone of professionalism – respect for your colleagues

It sounds like the most trite part of office life to talk about and yet everybody is talking about it. Where did respect for our colleagues go? Across varied industries the employees that we have been talking to all feel that inter-colleague respect is at an all-time low. Colleagues that stab each other in the back, use inappropriate language in the workplace or behave aggressively, management that encourages gossip and office politics – where does the change start?

We have all worked with colleagues and had bosses that would try the patience of a saint but resist the temptation to follow their lead. In the end it only leads to a constant chipping away of your values and it leads to a toxic work environment. Employees end up sitting in different “camps” and nobody stays focused on the goal of working towards a successful business as they focus on trying to out manoeuver each other.

You cannot think of yourself as a professional when you continually indulge in behaviour that undermines your own integrity and belittles the people you spend most of your waking hours with. Commit to yourself to work on respecting your colleagues. Have the tough conversations with them if something is not working between you, resist spreading and listening to gossip, do not go running to the boss with the sole intention of making someone else look bad and, if you are a business owner, make it clear this behaviour will not be tolerated and stand firm. If you are an owner or a manager then the office culture is coming from you and the standard that you set.

Most importantly be honest with yourself. Are you part of the solution or part of the problem when it comes to the lack of respect for others in your environment? It is never too late to start fresh so drop the old grudges and take the lead. You may be surprised how many others will follow.

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