I’ve worked with some really amazing people during my professional career on Wall Street (and even when I was in high school and college). But I’ve also worked with some really shitty people. Shitty in so many ways – from racists to sexist, from unintelligent to power tripping. I’ve seen it all.
And because I’ve seen it all. Or at least I think I’ve seen enough (enough to write a book quite honestly), I want to share with you what it takes to really get someone’s respect in the workplace.
Now first let me break it down.
I’ve worked at some incredible places like Goldman Sachs where they’re all about team work and collaboration. They like to say “you’re only as strong as your weakest link.” I also worked with some of the senior executives at the firm like David Viniar, Ed Forst…and a bunch of others. Really awesome individuals that were (and still are) highly respected because of what they’ve contributed to the firm and to the world of finance and beyond.
I worked with some of the most relaxed, yet successful bond investors in the States – that just made you feel a part of something. They made you feel valued, treated you well (like buying you lunch, giving you credit when you deserved it), throw jokes around…they were people you could hang out with outside of work.
And then I got the opportunity to work with some of the nicest people in the world in the Midwest. I think the Midwest is like the South – you just have really really nice people that make you feel like family.
But Not Everything is Gold
I’ve also worked with some beta males and females that wanted to be leaders or respected but didn’t know how or what they were doing wrong. So instead of figuring out what to do they just tried to give people attitude and name drop other people’s names.
One guy was a complete fool. He just tried his hardest to not let people know he didn’t know anything. He tried to ask everyone to provide him with information and he’d just send it out as his own. And when he didn’t get his way, he because a beta male – red in the face, got upset and snapped at people and pouted the whole day.
Then there was this other lady that thought the way to get people to like her was to over promise and under deliver (I’m talking “Ill get to it tomorrow” and three weeks pass by). She would name drop other people’s name like “The CEO wants this now. Do you want me to tell the CEO you can’t give it to him?” How she thought people would like her more or respect her with this behavior baffles me.
So Without Further Adieu…
I’d like to tell you, based on my experience, what does and does not work in the workplace if you want to gain people’s respect.
Let’s cut to the chase incase you stop reading here. It all comes down to relationships. Remember that. Now keep reading.
What Does Not Work If You Want to Be Respected At Work
Not Knowing Anything – you can’t expect to get a lot of respect if you don’t know anything. People will think you’re a fool and wonder how you got hired. If you’re someone’s boss or telling people to do stuff for you – they won’t do it happily and they’ll probably talk behind your back saying “who does this idiot think he is?”
Never Doing Anything (Always asking for something) – Please don’t do this. Sometimes its better to just do something then to tell someone else to do it. It shows you value other people and you’re willing to get your hands dirty (even if its for a split second).
Asking for Stuff Last Minute – Once in awhile you might have an urgent request and need a quick turnaround. But to make fake deadlines so you can get something quicker or wait until the last minute to ask for something is not cool. If you cry wolf too many times or make people drop everything their doing for you because you think you’re more important than anyone or anything else you’re going to have a hard time getting respect.
Not Socializing with People – You can’t get people’s respect if people don’t know you or your name. If you are a hermit and only talk to people when you need something or when it’s about work, no one is going to be able to relate to you or know who you are or what you’re about. Even if all you do is be friendly and talk for 15 seconds….its more than just being the weird dude/dudette that never talks to anyone.
Not Performing at a High Level – If you’re lazy or not doing your actual job then people are going to categorize you as a slacker or someone that just tries to ride other people’s coattails. As “cool” as a person thinks he is for just showing up to work and collecting a paycheck, this individual will not get people’s respect. You have to pull your own weight.
Being Rude / Getting Emotional – Have I told you how much I hate emotional passive aggressive beta males? Because I do. Or as my girlfriend would say ..”genuinely dislike, because hate is such a harsh word.” Whatever the case may be, I’ve had my fair share of run ins with emotional individuals. And I’m not talking emotional like they are passionate about something. I’m talking emotional like rude and b*tchy because things aren’t going how they want them to. No one will ever respect someone that gets emotional and treats people rudely.
Blaming Other People – Pointing fingers is an easy way to make enemies. In the corporate world, people like to call blaming other people “throwing someone under the bus.” Don’t do this. If you did something wrong, man up to it. If someone else did something wrong then tell them they were wrong. But voluntarily blaming other people is such a beta thing to do.
What Does Work to Gain Respect At Work
Speaking to People like Human Beings – I put this one first because so many people seem to power trip or disrespect their coworkers just by how they talk and email them. I remember an interaction I had with the CFO of a billion dollar public finance company I once worked with. I was younger back then but he treated me like I was his peer, not some subordinated analyst that didn’t know a single thing. Whereas I’ve had experience with fools that give so much attitude that it just makes you wonder, who is this loser?
Creating a Bond With People – Building a relationship with others is very important. You come off as sincere. You’ll definitely get more respect. Why? Because so many people treat work as work and separate their personal lives. But if you can form a connection with people, even slightly, they’ll start to saying good things about you to others. And that’s how you build a mountain of respect.
Making People Feel Valued or Important – How do you make people feel valued or important? You tell them. You value their time. You explain to them why they’re needed to get the job done. You can either make people feel really good about themselves or you can make them feel like a piece of sh*t by just telling people to do this and that (ordering people around). Oh and saying thank you or giving some sort of positive feedback once in awhile can be a game changer to gaining respect.
Empowering Others – When you start trusting others and giving others responsibilities they will feel empowered. When someone gives someone else this sort of freedom and responsibility, that person is respected because they show they don’t have to control everything. By empowering others you show you want someone to grow and continue to be challenged and take on more. This is a great way to get respect from people you work with, especially people that report to you or work below you.
Following Through – If you say you’re going to do something, do it. This is really important in everything you do but super important in the work place. Work is about making money. If you drop the ball by over promising and under delivering…people don’t forget. Always, always stay true to your word.
Being a Leader – There are so many things to be said about being a leader. But all I will say here is lead by example. Command a room. Give suggestions and instructions more than you receive. Don’t be someone that just waits for someone to tell them what to do (but don’t also just come up with dumbass ideas for the sake of coming up with ideas). Be someone that can take charge and take control.
Not Forgetting Where You Came From – So many people get good at their job and then begin to think its easy. They forget at one time in their career they had to learn how to do their job just like everyone else. Don’t act like you’re better than everyone and you don’t have time for people. Don’t bad mouth things that you used to do that you hated because you don’t have to do them any more. Just remember where you came from and pass along the knowledge that got you where you are today.
I know some of you are wondering if its really this simple to get respect at work. And the truth is that it is. You don’t have to be some extraordinary rainmaker or an executive to be respected. If you treat people the right way and act professionally and friendly and show you care about people then people will treat you a lot differently than if you were just some jerk that only cared about the bottom line.
Have you ever worked with someone that you truly respected? Have you worked with betas that were just terrible people? I’d love to hear your stories.