We are all disrespectful sometimes.

I am disrespectful sometimes.

I try not to be disrespectful.  Respect is enormously important to me – but it sometimes happens.

It occurs because we are all different. What I find “normal”, another person finds disrespectful.

An example is getting the bill after eating in a restaurant. In the Netherlands, where I am from, you only get the bill after you request it. Giving a customer a bill without a request is considered rude. That is different in America. Getting the bill without requesting it is normal. This allows the diners to leave any time they want as quickly as they want.

Neither way of providing service is better.

They are just different.

However, if an American didn’t know about this difference they would face a long wait in the Netherlands. (“Never go back to that restaurant again. We waited an hour before they gave us our bill”.)

Likewise the Dutch diner would be appalled by waiters in the USA (“I hadn’t finished eating and they already gave my bill. No large tip for that waiter”.)

Disrespectful behavior also happens in the workplace in many shapes and forms.

We interrupt a person; forget to thank; look at our devices during important conversations etc.

What we forget is that we pay a price for disrespectful behavior in the workplace, sometimes a very high price because research has shown that disrespectful behavior lowers productivity, engagement, trust, and health. Recent research by professors Porath and Erez uncovered even more bad news:

People who work in a disrespectful environment:

* Miss crucial information – even information right in front of them;

* Become less creative;

* Lose their conviction.

Respect is crucial in the workplace.

So, let’s discuss respect more.

We all recognize certain disrespectful behavior. This could be a boss who bullies, openly mocks employees, shouts at employees or points the finger at others when a problem occurs.

But more subtle behavior can also be disrespectful.

Some common disrespectful behaviors are:

* Checking email and texting during meetings,

* Using jargon even if it is incomprehensible to others,

* Ignoring certain ideas,

* Judging those who are different,

* Not listening,

* Taking other’s people contributions for granted.

What is interesting about respect is that what one person believes is “no big deal”; another person might find disrespectful.

For instance, some people do not think it is disrespectful to be late for meetings. I think that it is -unless of course a crisis caused the delay.

Some people, do not think it is disrespectful to check a smart phone while conversing face-to-face with another. I think that it is – unless of course there’s an emergency.

What is considered disrespectful varies from culture to culture and from person to person.

Creating an awareness of respectful behavior in your workplace is the answer.

And it starts with us managers.

We need to serve as role models so that the respectful behaviors will spread in the workplace and beyond.

Some tips to assist you in accomplishing this objective:

– Include by respecting and celebrating differences.

–  Listen. Take away barriers that will influence your listening.

– Before acting, think. Think about what impact you want to create. Ask yourself who do you need to be to create that impact.

–  Know what triggers you. What gets you on your high horse and how do you get down off your high horse?

– Take a breath or two before acting.

– Thank people.