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Respect: A Communication Skill That Brings The World Together

Posted on May 2, 2013 by Leslie Dickson

Updated September 19th, 2018

Respect & Communication

Have you really thought about what it means to be respectful? If saying “please” and “thank you” comes easily to you, you may have thought your efforts of respect are right where they should be. However, it is important to expand your appreciation for what it really means to be respectful.

Recently, the President at VoicePRO completed a month-long trip that had VoicePRO coaches delivering programs to a client with offices in the Asia Pacific region. We were in Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and Australia (Sydney and Melbourne). As we went from country to country, we found there is a different level of respect in different parts of the world. The people we met and worked within the Asian countries showed a higher level of respect for others, as well as a significant level of respect for themselves, their surroundings and their families.

Business Norms Across the World

At some locations, we were treated to lunch as the “guests” of our groups. This falls into the typical range of respect that I know well. But it went much deeper than this, and the subtleness and ease of execution had a great impact on me. People seemed easier, less threatened than we do in the west. They weren’t as quick to take offense. They smiled more and showed a natural courtesy to everyone around them.

For instance, throughout the entire month, our workshop participants honored us with their attention. They didn’t work on their laptops or phones during class time. They held their demanding workload for breaks. Now, I am the first one to recognize how busy everyone is and that client needs don’t take a hiatus just because someone decides to take a training program. However, it was moving to me to experience this level of respect from these incredibly important people. In South Korea, where several people even had trouble understanding our language, they stayed dialed in throughout the entire program.

Also, you may have heard that in some cultures, it is respectful to accept a business card with two hands and place it on the table, rather than put it away in your pocket. I never knew why this was the case until I experienced it myself. It is about attention. When someone offers you their business card and receives yours with two hands, it is about giving you their undivided attention. The power and impact of this is amazing.

Respectful Communication Skills

When it comes to business and the workplace especially, showing respect through communication is key to developing relationships, advancing in your career and really making the most of the environment you’re working in. Whether you’re pitching an idea, making a business deal, or just engaging in regular conversation with a boss or coworker, respect and communication are essential — and not just in terms of cultural practice, but in terms of common courtesy and making connections.

Wondering how to become a more respectful communicator? Here are a few tips for workplace communication that’s both successful and respectful:

  • Practice politeness, courtesy and kindness. No matter who you’re speaking to, what your mutual history is, what kind of day you’re having or whatever other factors you bring to the table, good manners are a constant must. Be kind every day, be courteous regarding others’ needs and opinions and be polite at all times — even if you’re not feeling your kindness. A little respect goes a long way and will reflect on you positively.
  • Listen graciously. People have a tendency to do a lot of talking when it comes to communicating across companies, projects, deals and ideas — but take the time to listen, as well. Successful and respectful communication is a two-way street, so make sure when you’re having a conversation, you take the time to attentively listen to and actively hear others.
  • Avoid negativity. No matter how frustrated you are, it’s never acceptable to insult, disparage or make fun of either people or their ideas. In the end, it will only lead to a mutual loss of respect that could affect the workplace as a whole. Instead, choose a constructive way of compromising or collaborating to solve problems or address issues.
  • Talk to people — not about them. If you take issue with a person or situation, the best way to address the problem is head-on. Too often, we may resort to holding on to our dissatisfaction, letting unease stew or alleviating frustration by complaining about someone behind his or her back because we’re nervous about confrontation and creating tension — but letting an issue fester is even worse. Instead, straighten the situation directly with the person in a constructive and respectful manner.
  • Don’t overcriticize. When leading a team or reviewing your employees, it’s important to give constructive feedback and mention what they could do differently to grow — but nit-picking, belittling, patronizing or constantly criticizing will only discourage others and damage your relationship. Instead, offer constant positive reinforcement along with constructive comments to give your teammates the confidence and encouragement they need.
  • Treat people equally. No matter the difference in background, position, qualifications or other factors, treat everyone you interact with fairly and equally to maintain a positive workplace.
  • Be emotionally empathetic. You can never know exactly what’s going on in someone else’s life — so when you speak to them, don’t be judgmental, impersonal or closed-off. Keep yourself emotionally open, pick up on others’ cues and practice empathy. It will take you far in any relationship.
  • Value others’ opinions. Different ideas, perspectives and backgrounds are what make a workplace multifaceted and push progress, so always make sure to value others’ opinions, encourage expression, consider their viewpoints and collaborate.

Learn How to Earn Respect & Give Respect

So, think about your own relationships. Do you set things aside when someone comes into your office? Do you focus just on them? Do you help your colleagues out by giving them your full, uninterrupted attention? Do you honor them with your respect?

I challenge you to try showing respect to the people you interact with in a deeper way. It isn’t about your intention to be respectful. We all have that. It’s about changing your behavior to let others “feel” respected by you. It is this “feeling of being respected” that holds the power.

At VoicePRO, we offer a selection of corporate programs, individual executive communication coaching, and online group coaching classes to meet your needs or your businesses needs.

Connect with a consultant today.

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