Trust and respect go hand in hand in the office, and disrespect is an early warning sign that trusting relationships are being threatened. A lack of respect can be obvious or subtle. Sometimes it comes from a toxic work environment or some co-workers who may be mean-spirited or not collaborative. Of course, it could be something you are doing that is unprofessional. It helps to notice the signs of disrespect that can cue you to do something about it.
Here are 5 signs of disrespect and what you can do:
You are being ignored or left out
This is a subtle kind of disrespect when things seem to be okay with your colleagues, but you don’t feel others are listening to what you have to say or you are not copied on important emails.
You are the subject of gossip
Even though gossip is common in every workplace, if you are coming up a lot in conversation in a negative way – personally or professionally – this is a sign of disrespect.
You are lied to or only getting part of the information
If you are not getting the truth from your colleagues – or the whole picture, this is a sign of disrespect. They may not feel safe giving you information or they may feel they have to alter it.
You are constantly criticized for petty reasons
Of course if you make mistakes, it makes sense that you will be confronted by your boss or project leader. But if your colleagues are on your case about minor issues, this is a sign that you are being targeted. This may feel like bullying or belittling and it is not okay.
Body language and behavior that feels demeaning
Social cues such as rolling eyes, lack of eye contact, and a condescending tone of voice may be signs of disrespect. Another sign is when a colleague keeps interrupting you. This might simply be their bad habit, but it is also a sign of disrespect.
What can you do about a lack of respect when you are the target?
Getting feedback from a trusted source is the most important way to get at the root causes or things you can do to make a difference.
Ask for what you can do differently
Get private time with a boss or co-worker who will give you an honest perspective of how you are viewed and the root causes. Say something like: “I have been feeling that I’m (not getting the information I need, being left out, losing credibility, etc), and I would like to know why this is happening. What things, if I did them differently, would make a positive difference in the way I’m perceived?”
Listen and say thanks
Then listen without interrupting, defending yourself, explaining, justifying or promising anything. This is the hardest part of the process! Anything you say – other than asking for clarification – can be perceived as defensiveness and will shut things down. You want honest information so you can use it. Say thanks and then reflect on what you can do differently to shift the situation in your favor.
Reflect and make a commitment to do something
Don’t bottle up your feelings. Consider whether you are over-sensitive or misunderstanding what is going on. Stay honest with yourself. Decide on 1 or 2 things to do differently. It could be that the work environment is toxic and it isn’t you. Then, consider a change.