Mutual professional respect among colleagues is essential for groups or teams whose work entails collaboration. When the fabric of respect is stretched or tattered, collaboration becomes difficult or impossible. Although mutual respect between two people is inherently bidirectional, when it breaks down, it might break largely in one direction. That is, Alpha (the disrespected), might still respect Beta (the disrespector) even though Beta no longer respects Alpha. Here are some tactics to use if you sense that a colleague has lost respect for you.
- Check for alternative explanations
- If you believe you've lost someone's respect, that's information, but is it correct? What have you seen or heard that led you to this conclusion? If Beta actually said, "I've lost professional respect for you," that's one thing, but if you base your conclusion on, say, not having received an invitation to the last meeting, that's a much less sturdy foundation for any conclusion.
- Conclusions based on data aren't data. Separate data you have from conclusions you've reached. For each conclusion, find two other hypotheses that explain the data. For example, if you weren't invited to a meeting, is it possible that the invitation was sent but not received? If you can find other explanations for your observations, perhaps you haven't lost Beta's respect after all.
- Check whether it's about you
- Professional rivalry — impersonal rivalry between entire professions — can manifest itself as personal rivalry between members of the rival Before concluding that
you've lost someone's
respect, think carefully. Not
everything is about you.professions. If Beta seems dismissive of Alpha's views, or if Beta systematically limits Alpha's participation, and if they are of different professions, or represent different organizations, professional rivalry might be afoot.
- Before concluding that you've lost someone's respect, check for professional rivalry. Maybe what you've observed isn't about you.
- Ask for a dialog
- If you haven't found an alternative explanation for Beta's behavior, consider initiating a dialog with Beta. If you know that your own behavior precipitated the problem, and an apology is in order, ask Beta for permission to apologize. If you know of no transgression on your part, apologizing isn't an option. Instead, explain to Beta that you've sensed that there might be a problem, and ask for an opportunity to learn what it might be, if there is a problem.
- A true dialog is a one-on-one conversation. The presence of witnesses in earshot creates a venue for a performance, or worse, a debate. Dialogs are more likely to generate positive outcomes than are performances and debates. If Beta doesn't want to participate in a dialog, alternative explanations for your observations are more likely. Search again.
Always remember that you cannot change someone else's mind. Only that mind's owner can change that mind. What you can do is create conditions that help the mind's owner to change. Be respectful of others, and, more important, be respectful of yourself. Top Next Issue
Is every other day a tense, anxious, angry misery as you watch people around you, who couldn't even think their way through a game of Jacks, win at workplace politics and steal the credit and glory for just about everyone's best work including yours? Read 303 Secrets of Workplace Politics, filled with tips and techniques for succeeding in workplace politics. More info
Your comments are welcomeWould you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenogMhuqCxAnbfLvzbner@ChacigAthhhYwzZDgxshoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.
About Point Lookout
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.
This article in its entirety was written by a human being. No machine intelligence was involved in any way.
Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.
Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.
More articles on Emotions at Work:
- Can You Hear Me Now?
- Not feeling heard can feel like an attack, even when there was no attack, and then conversation can
quickly turn to war. Here are some tips for hearing your conversation partner and for conveying the
message that you actually did hear.
- Preventing Toxic Conflict: II
- Establishing norms for respectful behavior is perhaps the most effective way to reduce the incidence
of toxic conflict at work. When we all understand and subscribe to a particular way of treating each
other, we can all help prevent trouble.
- Quips That Work at Work: I
- Perhaps you've heard that humor can defuse tense situations. Often, a clever quip, deftly delivered,
does help. And sometimes, it's a total disaster. What accounts for the difference?
- Compulsive Talkers at Work: Power
- Compulsive talkers are unlikely to change their behavior in response to your polite (or even impolite)
requests. In this second part of our exploration, we consider the role of power — both personal
- Workplace Remorse
- Remorse is an unpleasant emotion. But it need not be something we suppress or avoid. It can provide
a path to a positive learning experience that adds meaning to life.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming December 6: Off-Putting and Conversational Narcissism at Work: III
- Having off-putting interactions is one of four themes of conversational narcissism. Here are seven behavioral patterns that relate to off-putting interactions and how abusers use them to control conversations. Available here and by RSS on December 6.
- And on December 13: Contrary Indicators of Psychological Safety: I
- To take the risks that learning and practicing new ways requires, we all need a sense that trial-and-error approaches are safe. Organizations seeking to improve processes would do well to begin by assessing their level of psychological safety. Available here and by RSS on December 13.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenogMhuqCxAnbfLvzbner@ChacigAthhhYwzZDgxshoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.
Get the ebook!
Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:
- Get 2001-2 in Geese Don't Land on Twigs (PDF, )
- Get 2003-4 in Why Dogs Wag (PDF, )
- Get 2005-6 in Loopy Things We Do (PDF, )
- Get 2007-8 in Things We Believe That Maybe Aren't So True (PDF, )
- Get 2009-10 in The Questions Not Asked (PDF, )
- Get all of the first twelve years (2001-2012) in The Collected Issues of Point Lookout (PDF, )
Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500-1000 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info