The world of work as we know it has changed. Finding your place in workplace culture has become a more difficult task than ever before. Along with the unprecedented challenges that have arisen in recent times due to the global pandemic, modernisation and embracing future technologies have left the professional world in a vastly different place to where it was 10 years ago. 

Getting to grips with the new world of work can be tough at any level. However far along you are in your career, adapting well and gaining a level of respect from your colleagues is vital. Whether you are a manager needing to assert your authority or an assistant wanting to show that you are ready to take the next step, a high level of respect for you and the role you play within your organisation is the key to success. 

But with all of the world’s changes, and with stereotypical workplace structures being constantly reviewed, how do you manage to assert yourself and gain the respect you deserve? 


How to become respected in the office?

Long-standing clichés of bosses walking around offices and shouting the loudest to gain respect are certainly not the way to get business done in modern times. In the past, ‘respect’ has often become synonymous with ‘fear’ in a workplace environment, largely thanks to Hollywood films and outdated stereotypes. Despite the ridiculous reasoning behind it, many offices around the world can easily turn into cultures of fear. 

However, the most successful offices, and the ones that are filled with the most respect, are built on principles of support, inspiration and determination to reach shared goals. Respect isn’t a one way street in business and a mutual respect for all of your colleagues is the best way to start, wherever they sit in the hierarchy. 

When you are in an office environment, here are some key ways to gain the respect of your co-workers: 

  • Listen carefully when talked to. From a personal problem to a professional pitch, showing understanding is key.
  • Show passion for your work. Whether you are in charge of a project or just playing a supporting role, dedication and passion will not go unnoticed. 
  • Don’t be afraid to share your ideas. From implementing a new filing system to presenting a huge money making business proposal, being confident and taking the initiative will go a long way. 
  • Think about your body language. When speaking to colleagues, be sure to stand tall and show confidence to ensure your words resonate. 
  • Be on time and be present. If you’re not in the office when you’re supposed to be or colleagues start noticing a lack of attendance or attention to the job, respect can soon be lost. 
  • Don’t close yourself off. Hunching in a corner with headphones on is unlikely to result in respect, be open, welcoming and engaging around colleagues. 


How to become respected over email?

Since the widespread usage of the internet began in the 1990s, it is rare that any professional environment will function without the use of email. The speed, directness and ease of using email can be invaluable to a business, but losing the personal contact you receive in a meeting room or office can lead to trouble, confusion and a lack of respect. 

If you have already established a level of respect within your workplace, whether through the level of your role or a friendly office demeanour, then emails can be a useful tool to continue the narrative of respect away from the building. However, if used incorrectly or inappropriately, emails can also undermine levels of respect you have created or block you from gaining the respect you seek. 

In a world where we communicate more and more frequently through the medium of email, here are some top tips for using them to your advantage: 

  • Don’t over-email. Your colleagues should know when they receive an email from you that it really matters, it’s not useless office gossip or another comic video. 
  • Keep it short and sweet. Make sure your email tone matches your tone in the office and don’t be overly wordy when making your point. 
  • Be clear and concise. Unless you know your colleague very well, be careful not to use too many jokes or ironic references as these can be easily misunderstood and cause offence. 
  • Grab attention. Think about the subject line you choose to command colleagues’ respect and make them take notice from the very first line. 
  • Follow proper email etiquette. Manners matter, even online, so making sure your emails contain proper greetings, sign offs and the right level of formality is essential. 
  • Check before you send. We have all fallen victim to technological slip ups, but accidentally clicking ‘email all’ on a confidential document or ccing a colleague whose performance you are discussing will show carelessness and a lack of respect. 


How to become respected on video call? 

In a time where many employees are unable to work from traditional office environments or simply choosing to work remotely, establishing team dynamics and structures over video calls is more important than ever.

These new technologies have revolutionized the way we work, but commanding respect can be a more difficult task while working from home. You might not be physically in your office, but the most successful practices from the real world are certainly worth trying out virtually. 

With new technology comes new challenges, but also new opportunities. Here are a few ways to use the new world of work to gain and keep the respect of those around you: 

  • Don’t hog attention. While you may have gotten away with being the loudest voice in the meeting room, it is far clearer for everyone to see when only one person’s face fills the screen. Take pauses and allow others to contribute. 
  • Show praise for others. In a time where teams are separated and you are unable to simply pat your colleague on the back for a job well done, you can still show your support and appreciation during your conference calls through kind words and congratulations. 
  • Be patient. You might be a whizz with digital platforms but not everyone is. Getting overly agitated that someone is ‘on mute’ won’t win any respect, but being kind, considerate and offering help will. 
  • Be prepared. It can be easy to forget to bring documents to a meeting or to find excuses for a lack or preparation in the real world. When your whole professional life is on your laptop there’s no hiding, so prepare well to impress from the start. 
  • Get dressed. Just because you are not in the office doesn’t mean you can’t dress for business. Dressing smartly and professionally in a work environment will always demand respect and the same applies to video calls. 
  • Think about your background. We don’t all have a designated home office, but using a space that looks clean, tidy and uncluttered will allow everyone to focus on your words and ideas. 

Professional life may be constantly changing and adapting, but that simply means you have to as well. No matter the method, gaining respect, and showing respect, at work is always a route to achieve success.

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