Respect is the greatest attribute you can earn as a professional. In the field of business and management when we talk of respect we don’t mean elderly reverence, what we mean is a feeling of trustworthiness and reliability. When people have trust in your wisdom, when they know where you stand in terms of your core values and when they know that you are going to be around in the time of need, respect and trustworthiness follow.
But respect needs to be earned. You don’t inherit it and you don’t just come across it. According to in, these are the following qualities you must develop in order to earn sustainable respect as a professional:
- Be yourself: Artificiality is easily detectable, especially to those who seek authenticity and trust. Don’t try to be something or someone you are not. Every individual is unique and that is the beauty of our existence. We all have inherent qualities and flaws — what makes us different is how we channelize them productively. When you don’t act authentic it reeks of insincerity no matter how innocuous the act is. If you cannot be sincere about you, how can you be sincere about delivering a product or a service? Not being authentic means you are trying to pretend and this eventually begins to percolate into your other dealings too.
- Be attentive to others: Develop a sense of curiosity. Pay close attention to what the others are saying and try to understand their point of view. We feel close to people who give us an ear and show interest in what we have to say. Don’t just pretend to listen to people. Carefully listening to others also adds to your own knowledge as you get to learn different perspectives.
- Mind what you’re talking about: This is very important at workplace where rumor-mongering is very common. When somebody shares his or her secrets with you he or she expects that they will remain with you. You immediately lose respect the moment you start revealing confidential information to others. And you’re not just losing respect of the person whose secret your revealing; you are also losing respect of those people (whether they realise it or not, and whether you realise it or not) to whom the secret is being revealed. So learn to be discreet.
- Develop unique qualities: It is slightly same as being yourself but those people who carry unique qualities and original insights are more respected than those who simply parrot existing knowledge.
- Be helpful: As a professional and even as a management leader your primary aim is to help others grow and achieve their goals. This might sound like a selfless service but it is not because eventually you are earning great respect and this respect is a formidable professional asset.
- Set clearly-defined boundaries: Always being ready to help doesn’t mean you don’t have boundaries. As mentioned in this blog post on how to learn to say no, you need to know when to say yes (and help people) and when to say no (and politely opt out or direct them to another source). Keep in mind that your objective is to empower people but not to make them dependent upon you.