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Disrespectful Behavior in the Workplace

by Jan Archer

You want to show respect in the workplace, certainly. So you try to smile and be pleasant, avoid interrupting, and demonstrate other good manners you've been practicing since grade school. But what about other issues you typically do not associate with respect, such as laziness or forgetting your place in the pecking order? Being aware of these issues can help you steer clear of disrespectful behavior.

Showing Bias

Issuing slurs or statements in the workplace that suggest bias against certain genders, races, age groups or cultures is disrespectful. While terms such as "mailman" and "stewardess" may have once been appropriate, they are now considered biased language in the business world. Pointing out age, race, or sex is also unprofessional. For example, saying, "The materials were sent to the printer by an Indian woman in the marketing department," implies that the employee's gender or ethnicity was somehow related to her actions.

Refusing to Resolve Conflict

Conflict resolution is key in any relationship, especially in the workplace. Failing to immediately deal with conflicts is harmful. Walking away from a conversation or stonewalling are examples of disrespectful behavior. Healthy conflict resolution means fostering an environment in which ideas are freely offered without fear of retribution. In fact, strong leaders embrace disagreement because it leads to discussions and new ideas. A respectful workplace environment encourages voices to be heard.

Slacking Off

When you drag your feet and don't do your part, someone inevitably will have to pick up your slack. That's disrespectful. Showing up late, unprepared, or confused forces colleagues to take on extra work. Doing your job well and staying on top of your duties demonstrates respect toward others. Even though your co-workers may joke about your disorganization, deep down they probably resent it.

Pushing Personal Boundaries

Bringing your personal life into the office is disrespectful. It may distract others who want to focus on their duties. It also puts your colleagues in the uncomfortable position of dealing with your emotions. For example, venting to a co-worker about your troublesome child or dysfunctional marriage puts him in a difficult position: interrupt work and lend an ear or continue working and risk offending you. Keep your personal problems out of the workplace.

About the Author

Jan Archer holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a master's degree in creative writing. Roth has written trade books for Books-a-Million and has published articles on green living, wellness and education topics. She taught business writing, literature, creative writing and English composition at the college level for five years.

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