We have all been there. You are the new recruit in an organization full of veterans. You feel the sense of inadequacy having just started as a new intern/worker/employee. There is a sense of being a “fish out of water” when you start a job where you’re technically and objectively beneath your experienced peers. You start thinking “How can I become them?”. You want them to respect you. You want to be like them. The good news is that, regardless of your current employment level and the time spent as a worker there, there is always a chance to earn the respect of your more experienced peers. You can earn the respect immediately or years down the line, and the beauty of things is that it is all up to you.
Here are some of the ways you can earn the respect of your experienced peers regardless of status:
You may think this is something that can be easy to do. However, there is a difference between hearing what someone says to you compared to really listening what someone says to you. By listening, you will have the intent to understand. Hearing is just for the intent to reply. By listening, you will earn the respect of the people that talk to you, as you’ll be receptive to their words/advice, and will help them see you more as a leader than just a worker.
There is always this misguided feeling that when you ask a lot of questions, it means that you are stupid because you don’t know. That couldn’t be farther from the truth, especially in a work environment. By asking questions, you show a sign of interest. You show that you care, for both people and potentially the projects they are working on. When you show interest in others, others will show respect for you because you care beyond just doing your 9-to-5 job.
Look people in the eyes
When you’re listening to what others are telling you and when you are asking questions, make sure you are properly looking the person in the ye. Don’t me looking at your phone or letting your eyes wonder to dead space. Doing that will only make the person not feel valued, since you rather be focused on something other than them. No. Look at them in the eye so the person feels valued. This way, they’ll respect you even more.
Speak one-on-one whenever the opportunity arises
Sometimes being part of an organization means that a lot of your interactions most of the time are going to be as part of a group setting. It’s par for the course. However, once in a while you’ll probably hear some people say to one another, “Let’s talk offline”. What this means is that some people want to have the chance to talk and interact one-on-one outside the respective group setting. Be receptive when someone asks for some one-on-one time, or even be the one that starts it. There’s nothing that builds confidence more than a one-on-one talk, and it’s a place where you can learn or voice concerns, issues or perspectives about specific things. Doing this will earn the respect of your peers.
Treat people without power with respect
Even if at a certain point you feel you’re not being respected by those above you, it doesn’t mean that you have to do the same to those beneath you. If you want to be a leader, you are a leader for all, not just a select few. What this means is you’ll have to treat everyone with the respect they deserve, even if their only title is that of a janitor. Treating those beneath you with respect will be something that the ones on top will notice, and they will start respecting you as a result.
Touch people when necessary and smile.
Before you start thinking that this may be inappropriate, know that when we tell you to touch people, it means to do it when an occasion of respect arises. What this means is shaking people’s hand when you salute them. Greeting and congratulating them whenever something great has happened with a light touch on shoulder and forearm. Using touch like this is a great way to show empathy towards your peers and helps you develop a deeper connection with them. Proper touch is a sign of respect, not dominance. And when you gain that respect, don’t forget to smile at those that respect you. It will remind them you’re a human being that cares for them, not just a self-serving individual doing the job. Doing these things will help people feel comfortable around one another, and that helps develop deeper connections that will help you in the long term.
If your ultimate goal is to rise the ranks and be a leader, you got to earn that respect. Simple as that. Do this, and your work environment and those around will be better as a result.