Managing Disrespect In The Workplace

Signs That You Are Disrespecting Yourself

Was that hug a compliment or an invitation, a sexual advance or meant to comfort? If we feel strongly that it was a sexual advance, an invitation, what do we expect to do next? Certainly, being disrespected hurts everyone but the solution does not lie in one making excuses for the aggressor. The answer lies in one accepting that the boundaries have been crossed.

Do you find yourself pretending in public just because you want people to like you? Therefore, you put on an act that you think is acceptable to your peers. Do you arrange to fake your true feelings self just like ladies take time to mask imperfections with facial makeup? You are out of character and certainly disrespecting yourself. You are likely to view others as better than you because they have things that you lack and needing to make up to belong. You cannot appreciate the fun experiences and joyful moments in your personal life, but you remain envious of other people who appear to be better than you thereby, creating insecurities for yourself.

Do you find it easy to speak badly of yourself when alone or in the presence of others? You find it easy to put yourself down instead of taking pride in your gifts, talents and desirable qualities. If someone perchance criticizes you, do you find it easy to imbibe the negativity while ignoring any other great things they may have said about you? You wallow in self-pity when things go wrong. You consider yourself unworthy of greatness but prefer to punish yourself by perpetual mulling on the negative, while, allowing the positives to slip down into the memory lane. You fill yourself with so much doubt and repress yourself in public to shy away from further ridicule.

Do you place others ahead of yourself, not for modesty but because you lack self-confidence? You care so much about others and their opinions that you discount yourself and your self-worth. You take responsibility for everything wrong even for situations over which you have no control. You find excuses to let others off the hook so that you can exaggerate your own failures and secure the blame for the failings of others in your group. You will rather bite your tongue to avoid conflict than stand up for what you believe. You try to please everybody else because you are so keen on being accepted that you will go extraordinary lengths to make others happy.

You hide your emotions, refusing to speak up when hurt. In fact, you will tell lies to protect others either in order to remain friends with people or project an image of group loyalty through pretense. You see worry or vulnerability as weaknesses that cannot be displayed in the public. You are forever seeking the approval of others overly concerned with external validation of your looks, feelings and even beliefs. You are always afraid to make mistakes and feel guilty for following your heart.

You simply don’t believe in yourself, or that you can make useful contributions. Therefore, you constrain yourself to avoid ridicule. If you any of these describes you, then, you are disrespecting yourself and discounting your potential to make significant contributions in the workplace.

Interface of Respect, Trust and Confidence

reliable trust
reliable trust

The interactivity of respect, trust and confidence makes their interface rather slippery. Consequently, while, earning an attribute promotes the earning of the others over time, the failure of anyone of them quickly crashes the values of the others. Respect talks to the recognition of someone else and the strength of the connection engineered by their interaction. Confidence is simply a feeling that makes one have faith in another individual. This is easy to achieve because it is commonly based on expectations and etiquette. Trust takes time to earn, difficult to maintain and the easiest to lose. Trust involves a surrender of part of oneself to someone else. With trust, we rarely rationalize how much to open to someone whom we assume can never betray us. Life experiences teach us how to handle each one of these over times, and age clearly blunts our ability to surrender to others.

It is easy to confide in your supervisor who in fact chose you and employed you among many other contestants. However, if over time that trust has been betrayed, the associated hurt may make recovery difficult. Yet, you must continue to work with the employer. You will have to maintain some level of respect, but trust will have been eliminated from the interaction. Therefore, depending on the specific circumstance, the level of confidence that one displays in the supervisor or the other individual varies with the positivity of one’s emotional interaction with them.

There were changes to our work schedules in the office. I had discussed my challenges with the new supervisor, believing that he will be considerate while I work on finding a new accommodation that will bring me closer to my workplace. That way, I can meet up with the new schedules. However, I found from company records that he had chosen to impose disciplinary measures on me for several days that I had come late to work. It became so bad that the human resources department had to be involved.

At a point, the human resources manager asked me why I did not confide those personal challenges with my supervisor who had the prerogative to consider giving me some leeway. I answered that we had such discussions at least twice. However, my supervisor retorted that nothing like that ever happened.

In addition, when we got to resolving another issue, he also denied ever hearing about my need for clarifications. At this point, I gave up on him as I could not understand what he had to gain from telling these lies because even, if get fired, it cannot be to his gain. Of course, he lost any confidence that I had in him instantly. I still work for him, but I am confined to giving him the respect due to his office on ethical grounds, but any friendliness is gone, and almost forever. It will take a long time to repair my hurt and disappointment.

Preventing Disrespect

Acknowledge The Hurt

Commonly, when we feel slighted, it is a feeling that hangs in our subconscious. Occasionally, it is our body that senses the hurt and it may take us time to determine exactly what happened. Not being able to respond appropriately during the incident may continue to bother us for a long time, especially as we try to convince ourselves about the truth of the situation. For example, was that hug a compliment or an invitation, a sexual advance or meant to comfort?

If we feel strongly that it was a sexual advance, an invitation, what do we expect to do next? Certainly, being disrespected hurts everyone but the solution does not lie in one making excuses for the aggressor. The answer lies in one accepting that the boundaries have been crossed. It is only then that a recoil plan to recover lost grounds can be formulated. There is no reason for blaming oneself for provoking the advancement in any way.

However, take the time to essentially rethink the situation because knee jack reactions can only hurt you the more. Are you personalizing the situation? Maybe your assumed aggressor did not even think anything wrong in what they did. Watch them, ask questions from others before reaching your conclusions. In addition, if the slight was deliberate, why or could they be setting a trap for you?

I have heard people talking about how fast someone else was rising on the career ladder just because the gossipers felt threatened that he could turn out to be their boss very soon. I knew that this guy tries his best to respect everyone despite his skills, and qualifications to the extent that he could truly become their boss in a short while. In truth, I did not witness them treating him rudely, but the discussion itself was disrespectful.

Acknowledging the hurt stops the need for one to continue internalizing the pain before it leads one to make mistakes or even become aggressive. But if one admits being hurt, it becomes easier to manage or seek for help.

Were the Boundaries Clear Knowing That Middle Grounds Always Give Way?

Trying to please everyone will always be dangerous. This behavioral attitude reminds one of two things: one is the famous title of an African novel called ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe, and the other is a popular story of a marine veteran. Chinua Achebe’s famous quote says when “things fall apart, the center cannot hold”. Therefore, people who try to hide in the middle of pack, making sure to please everyone else and trying to avoid calling attention to themselves invite disrespect or at a minimum expose themselves to a greater risk of being disrespected.

The marine veteran tells the story of when he went for try-outs while serving in the military. He had crossed so many tests and they were into the final part of the physical endurance tests. This set of tests includes doing a long lap maybe about a mile or two around the track. There were about 50 of them, so he thought that staying in the middle until the final lap around the track was a good winning strategy for him. He did not realize that other people had plans to eliminate that middle ground to their own advantage as well. The race went well for a while until he got pushed from behind, and before he realized what happened he was on the floor under the body of about three other men. About 30 of them had fallen over each other in a fake stampede of sorts. One thick-rimmed glasses wearing competitor had set up a fall which he escaped from while the others fell on each other in domino fashion.

Our marine friend eventually got up but was so badly bruised he had to go to a clinic. He ended up among the last three to cross the finish line limping and bleeding. Luckily, the judges saw the unfairness situation, and asked those that made it to finish line before going to the clinic to come back for retry a few minutes later.

This time he stayed ahead of his pack and has never tried the middle ground again in any area of life. His experience on the field translated into a source of psychological motivation to the effect that leadership is about staying ahead, and not about pleasing everyone. Nothing should stop anyone from setting the rules that guide the boundaries of acceptable behavior for one to enjoy the workplace. It may take a lot of thinking and re-thinking to determine what you should tolerate or not, but small discomforts can grow into dangerous situations fueled by insidiously boiling anger. Don’t tolerate what is clearly an irritation, take actions to stop it immediately.

Own Your Own Mistakes But Grow

At the other of the spectrum, it can be very easy to blame others, and point fingers while it takes deep reflection for one to appreciate that their true contributions to a misunderstanding was a mistake. It is greater hard work to accept our mistakes, and then, make efforts to change our ingrained lifestyles. However, it is a powerful weapon of leadership for success to accept and own responsibility for our mistakes. We become powerful when we take steps to correct them particularly, when you are leading a team.

As a leader we are challenged with making great things happen every day, making our marks and creating positive energy around us. All humans make mistakes, yet, everyone always wants to be happy including making others around them comfortable. However, no one should tolerate trading their own happiness for the happiness of the others. Don’t tolerate being bullied, including bullying by yourself. Take courage and empower yourself with positive energy and let it flow to others without anyone riding on you. Love yourself and transfer the energy to others.

Noah Omoluabi is publisher of Pentecostals, a digital magazine focusing on Generation Z issues with Christianity. He speaks professionally on workplace culture management for career leadership and social media management of Christian evangelism. His major theme is ‘Graduating Into A CEO’ in his messages designed to ignite the fire of ambition in young leaders.

professional speaker and publisher motivated to igniting the fire of leadership ambition by empowering your managers with soft skills of successful CEOs

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