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33 Smart Habits That Will Train Other People to Treat You With Respect

Most of these are small, subtle changes in behavior, but they can have a big impact on how much other people respect you.


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What do people want out of work? More than money, more than benefits, much more than job security, a recent survey says, they want to be treated with respect.

If that sounds like you, how can you increase the respect you get each day at work? It turns out that there are specific habits you can cultivate that allow you to train the people you work with to treat you respectfully each day.

Here are 33 of these proven habits that can help, if you're willing to stick with them. Implement a few, take inspiration from the others, and you'll likely see dividends quickly.

1. Speak up.

You won't get the recognition and respect you deserve unless you make your voice heard. We start with this—training yourself to speak up—because every other habit on this list depends on your deciding that you are worthy of respect to begin with.

2. Be polite.

People who give respect justifiably expect it in return. So, set the tone for respectful relationships: It's why society developed polite norms to begin with. Also, remember the opposite result of this habit: People who are impolite or full of bluster often wind up inspiring a lack of respect in others they interact with.

3. Invite others to schedule their interactions.

If you want respect, that includes respect for your time. So, encourage colleagues to take responsibility for their needs. When they need to take up your time, use either an assistant or a gatekeeper to manage your time, or at least share a digital calendar. (Caveat: For this strategy to work, there are a few key tricks to follow, described in Nos. 4 to 7 below.)

4. Schedule all the time you need for yourself.

If you decide to follow the make-your-own-appointment strategy in No. 3, it's crucial that you serve yourself first, by scheduling all the time you need for yourself first. Be ruthless, leaving only the leftovers for everyone else. Remember, you don't have to justify to anyone else what is on your calendar; you only need to claim your time for yourself first.

5. Set your calendar view default setting to private.

It's not most people's business what you're doing during your "unavailable" time, so if you're using the shared calendar method, be sure the default setting for all events is private. That way, most time blocks will come up for others as "unavailable," but you won't need to justify why you're not available.

6. Set your calendar appointment default to 15 minutes.

Fifteen minutes is enough time for many interactions, but if you don't set a default, people will automatically schedule more time than they need. It's not an immutable restriction, of course; if your boss needs an hour, she can schedule an hour. But setting a default time encourages people to show respect for your time in a very practical way.

7. Put your out-of-office times on your calendar.

Leaving for the gym after work at 6 p.m. a few times a week? Taking a bus that doesn't get you to work until 9:00 a.m.? Put these events on your calendar (in private mode), so other people don't schedule meetings before you plan to arrive or after you plan to leave.

8. Learn and use people's names.

Moving on from your calendar, make it a point to learn and use other people's names. Doing so is a sign of respect to them, and something that will make them feel affinity for you. They'll also remember you and feel obliged to reciprocate (or else be really embarrassed).

9. Use titles.

Obviously, don't do this if it doesn't feel natural or appropriate, but if you don't know people well, try addressing them as sir, ma'am, Mr., or Ms., rather than by their first names. In general, conveying respect like this will set the tone and encourage them to respect you as well.

10. Make plans.

Leadership abhors a vacuum, and people feel free to impose their priorities on others who haven't made it clear they're pursuing their own priorities in life. So, make plans. Announce strategies. Suck up the air so that your idea becomes everyone else's working plan. This goes for both your work life and your personal life.

11. "Disagree and commit" (but use different language).

Jeff Bezos uses this "disagree and commit" language. You can use your own terms, but develop a reputation for reliability, even if you aren't sure about the plan you've agreed to execute. If you say you're going to do something, follow through.

12. Be willing to ask questions.

If you're going to commit your professional future to someone else's plan, respect yourself enough to ask a lot of questions about it. Let it be understood you aren't a pushover and won't sheepishly be led. Besides, how many times have you been in a meeting where someone asks a question and it turns out everyone else wanted to know the answer too?

13. Acknowledge others before speaking.

Show a little emotional intelligence by acknowledging how your contributions fit into the flow of a conversation. In practice, this means that if you have something to say, acknowledge whoever spoke before you. You'll garner their respect for giving them credit. (Example: "Excellent point, John, and it makes me think of something else we should consider ... ")

14. Say thank you.

A specific example of simple, basic politeness. It costs you nothing and sends a subtle signal. Again, it's also a defense against the lack of respect that blatantly impolite people inspire.

15. Say you're welcome.

This one has been a bit of an ongoing campaign for me, but if you want to inspire respect, say "You're welcome" rather than "No problem" or the like. "You're welcome" connotes that you've done something worthy of thanks—and thus that you are worthy of respect.

16. Use multiple email addresses.

Have at least one email for personal use and one—or maybe more—for work. This is all about ensuring that others interact with you on your terms, and that you're not at their beck and call, rushing to answer a hodgepodge of requests at all hours.

17. Use email labels and filters.

Too late for the suggestion in No. 16? No problem. Just take the time to use labels and filters in your email account to segregate messages, prioritize your responses, and train others to expect replies on your schedule, not theirs.

18. Set reminders.

But when you do decide to delay responding to others (No. 17 above), whether it's via email or otherwise, make sure you do ultimately respond. Set reminders so you can clear your head of the need to reply until later.

19. Have more than one phone number.

It's the same idea as having more than one email address to give out. You don't need to respond to people on their time; respond when it's convenient for you (within reason, of course). However, if paying for a second phone isn't in the cards, I recommend using Google Voice, Sideline, or other services that let you add a second number to your existing phone.

20. Let people save face, and leave escape routes for them.

Often in standing up for yourself, you'll wind up pushing against others. So, treat them with respect (and engender reciprocal respect) by giving them a verbal escape route and allowing them to save face. As an example, blame an intangible condition for a negative result, rather than their poor effort.

(Example: "I think perhaps we miscommunicated, John, but we didn't get done what we needed to, and we'll have to work harder today as a result." This blames the "miscommunication" rather than John's effort, thus leaving him an out.)

21. Share credit.

Make sure you take credit when it's due. But also look for opportunities to give credit to others for what they have contributed as well. They will remember and respect you for doing so.

22. Notice and share when others do well.

Even if you're not part of the effort (or especially), become known as the person who is eager to celebrate others in your department or company when your colleagues have big wins.

23. Stay in demand.

Be at the forefront of your industry. Make sure to nurture your connections—and to make more of them. You'll increase the quality of your reputation among the people you work with, and develop your expertise.

24. Have other options.

Having other options is part of what staying in demand is all about. It also bolsters your confidence to know you could be doing something else at any time; that confidence will shine through and impact the level of respect you receive.

25. Keep a short work diary.

Keep a running tally of the things you accomplish, the ideas you come up with, and your interactions with others. Just a few notes at the end of the day can be enough to ensure you remember, and that you carry yourself as someone who should be respected.

26. Anticipate and guide.

Whether you work for a boss or you work for clients, try to anticipate the things they'll need or the questions they'll have, and answer before they ask. They'll learn to respect you as an expert.

27. Share proactively.

Know someone a colleague should meet? Read an article your department should know about? Become known as the kind of person who shares that information with others.

28. Dress up (slightly).

We live in a pretty casual world now. But if you dress up slightly beyond how your colleagues dress, you'll subtly indicate that they should treat you with a bit more respect.

29. Give good feedback.

Other people are just as self-conscious as you are, whether they hide it well or not. So offer good, constructive, positive feedback—even when it's not your official role. A short note after a colleague's presentation telling her what you thought she did well can inspire a lot of affinity and respect.

30. Negotiate.

Don't take the first offer—in anything that matters. Inspire respect by standing up for yourself.

31. Say no sometimes.

Set boundaries and abide by them. You'll encourage others to respect your boundaries as well.

32. Admit when you don't know.

Confident people are more than willing to admit when they don't know something, especially if it's something they need or want to know to do their jobs better. Being willing to admit and learn will inspire respect.

33. Be willing to move on.

If you're not getting the respect you deserve, find another place to work. Paradoxically, moving on will inspire more respect for you in the place you just left!

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This post originally appeared on Inc. and was published November 28, 2017. This article is republished here with permission.

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