Women In The Workplace: 12 Ways To Gain And Keep Respect

by Kelley Lord

Whether you are responsible for the copy machine or a team of employees, every person deserves the same level of respect in the workplace.

At some point in your career, a boss will belittle you, a coworker will hit on you and another employee will be jealous of you. It is important to know how to handle these types of situations so you are not disrespected and your career is not compromised.

Here are 12 tips for women on how to gain and keep respect in the workplace:

1. Put in your work.

The best way to gain respect in the workplace is to do your job and do it well. You have heard it all before: Show up early, stay late and perform each task to the best of your abilities.

When striving to gain respect and influence, you must prove that you are both worthy and capable of such responsibilities. While this should be enough, women must accept that our appearances and communication skills are also important and must be as polished as our work.

2. Don’t sleep with anyone who has the same business card as you.

I know a woman who is doing amazingly well in her early career. She knows her stuff, puts in her hours and networks with the right people… but she sleeps with them, too.

After she admitted this to several coworkers and me, I lost respect for her. I am not able to be happy for her accomplishments without thinking about how she got to where she is. Even if she stops, it is now part of her reputation among our peers.

Sometimes, meeting someone through your workplace is inevitable, but my best advice is to avoid it at all costs. If you are looking for a hookup, look further than the next cubicle over.

If you could potentially see yourself with someone long-term, keep it casual. Test the waters before you make a mistake that could jeopardize your credibility and ultimately, your career.

3. Always keep your recorded communication professional.

No matter how close you are with coworker, sending informal, silly emails is not the way to do it in the workplace. Every email — unless you are quickly messaging back and forth — should include a proper greeting and sign off.

The more formal you are, the more seriously higher-ups (and whoever is potentially reading your emails) will take you.

While typing an email, keep in mind that it could be forwarded to any person in your office building. If there is an issue that you would do not feel comfortable with each of your coworkers reading, set up a meeting to talk about it in person.

4. Emanate confidence through your speech and body language.

In the wilderness, birds spread their wings to appear bigger and more intimidating. I am not asking you to flex during a meeting, but your stature and demeanor must come across confident and strong.

Eye contact is also huge. The more your eyes wander, the more insecure and nervous you look. If you come across as shy, your voice and opinion will likely be overlooked. Speak firmly, clearly and confidently in your opinions.

5. Know when to be a team player and when to lead.

Too many women are afraid to take credit for their individual accomplishments and step back behind their teams. Exert ownership of your ideas while encouraging others to participate and be involved. Be the go-to person for your team because you are knowledgeable, approachable and friendly.

As a leader, you will face difficult decisions. Be focused on the goal of the project and the morale of your team. Not every person will like every decision you make, but if you keep those two things in mind, nothing else should be of concern.

6. Know your place.

No matter how qualified you feel you are at your job, do not assume that you know everything. How many coworkers have you lost respect for due to their arrogant attitudes about their work? If you do not know something, ask for help. It is better to reach out than to do something wrong all by yourself.

Each work environment is different, but it is important to know your place. Keeping that in mind, do not be imitated by people who are in higher positions than you are; speak to every person as an equal. If you treat people as your equals, in most cases, they will accept it.

In the same regard, acknowledge every person, no matter what role he or she holds. Greet department heads and custodians with equal degrees of warmth.

7. Avoid gossip.

As fun as it may be to chat about coworkers, by doing so, you are spoiling your reputation more than the person about whom you are talking. Your peers will automatically find you less trustworthy and will be less likely to share discrete information about themselves, others and the company.

Rather than gossiping, keep your eyes and ears open about what’s happening around you. When others try to involve you in the latest gossip, do not feel obligated to participate.

By brushing it off or changing the subject, eventually, others will realize you are not entertained by such things and will likely respect you for it.

8. Dress for the position you want to have.

What you wear says a lot about you and the type of attention you seek to have. When you are out at a bar, you may wear a short skirt and pumps because you want to look good with your girlfriends or get a guy to buy you a drink. But, what do you want your outfit to say about you at the office?

If you, some day, want to become a company CEO, dress like it. While others in your position might get away with jeans or casual tops, be the one to come in with a sharp blazer.

Do not be surprised if someone assumes you have a higher position by the way you look, and if it happens, go with it. Above all, let your personality and work ethic — not your clothing — speak for you.

9. Draw the line between your social life and the workplace.

I have seen people lose their wallets, phones, balance, dignity and even jobs by being the drunkest person at a work party. An open bar mixed with awkwardly forced conversations with coworkers can be a cocktail for disaster, but don’t let it be.

Trust me when I say that your coworkers will remember who the drunkest people were at the party, and the stories about it will last much longer than Monday morning water-cooler chatter.

While work parties are the time to let loose with your coworkers, know your limits and stay within acceptable, professional boundaries.

10. NEVER complain.

Do not be the person who complains about the job. If you are ungrateful for your current position, why would anyone want to promote you?

If you think that something is happening incorrectly or inefficiently in the workplace, that’s another matter. Approach such an issue in a constructive and non-hostile manner and with suggestions to improve.

Keep ideas and changes moving in a positive direction to meet the goals of the workplace and be sure to follow up.

11. Do not let your emotions get the best of you.

At work, you must leave all personal drama at the door. If you distract others by venting about your love life or family feuds, you will lose the respect from those who are trying to get their jobs done.

Becoming overwhelmed or stressed out at work is okay, but do not let it upset you. Every person makes mistakes, but becoming emotional about them will make you seem unstable and unreliable. If you feel yourself losing it, relieve yourself and take a breather outside.

12. Learn to say no.

Many women have the misconception that the way to gain respect and move up in the workplace is by being polite and doing everything asked of them. Yes, doing these things will prove your gratitude and value to your company, but it won’t make you feel appreciated or respected.

Regarding the struggle between wanting to be liked and respected in the workplace, if you focus on being liked, you will surely be taken advantage of.

When someone asks you to take on a lower-level task, it is okay to say that you understand it must get completed, but that you would rather focus on your required responsibilities. You must demand the respect you deserve.

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