What is it? Why does it matter? If you can’t answer those two basic questions, read on! Mutual respect in the workplace has to do with constructive conversations that are based on an honest exchange. When you break or violate the concept of mutual respect, you most certainly can anticipate a negative and/or defensive response. Not good news for you or the other members of your team. Let me give you just one example.
The area I want to briefly cover is when people show disrespect by hiding behind email. Have you ever had someone use email as a way to get everything in writing? Like they’re some hotshot lawyer creating a paper trail? Or how about those emails that just announce something without anyone being in on the discussion? “Hey, Mike, just wanted to share with the team that Sally is going to be taking over the IBM account.” Oops, shoulda’ informed Mike before hitting the send button! Or those sniveling people who launch an attack from the safety of their cubicle – what, not man enough to say it in person? Or the rant – the six paragraph manifesto of one’s opinion that leaves no room for discussion.
Look. It’s really not that difficult to be an adult and not hide behind email. Get out of your chair and go have a conversation – face to face – and discuss what’s on your mind when email just isn’t the right delivery vehicle. Or pick up the phone.
You’re probably wondering, “When do I know when I should pick up the phone and not just email?” The safe answer is when you feel a little uneasy about what you have to say and who you have to confront – when the subject matter is sensitive and an email will most certainly demonstrate that you lack sensitivity. Let that be your guide.
As I’ve commented on before, when you have to face a difficult situation and need to talk one-on-one:
- Schedule a face-to-face meeting or call. “Hey, I have some ideas I want to run past you, let’s meet to discuss.”
- Show respect. “I value your opinions, so I thought we could collaborate on this project.” “I want to hear what you have to say on this matter.”
- “Just the facts, ma’am.” Details and data; stick to the facts and don’t make it personal.
- It’s a two-way conversation, so don’t hog the floor. Listen and respond to your colleagues’ concerns or ideas. Always look for the win-win.
Mutual respect. Email is efficient and convenient. But it’s not really communication. Not when you’re hiding behind it and sowing conflict.