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How to Earn the Respect of Peers

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How to Earn the Respect of Peers

By Michelle Yozzo Drake

As hilarious as Rodney Dangerfield was, the last thing you want to be in your office is the Rodney Dangerfield who "gets no respect."

Respect is the cornerstone of all of your relationships - personal and professional. How you treat (and are treated by) co-workers, colleagues, supervisors and even the intern who fetches coffee can make or break your career. Who wants to promote a throw rug who let's everyone walk all over them? Or a timid mute who never shares his or her incredible ideas?

The most important person you should respect? YOURSELF. Respect your own opinions, your own qualifications, and your own ideas enough to share them at every opportunity. Sometimes, we forget how valuable we are and how amazing our contributions are to our organizations.

Jennifer in Springfield, MA knows exactly what I mean...

Dear Michelle,

I was just promoted to a management position where I work. It's a great opportunity and I'm doing fine leading the people on my team. My problem is that I'm struggling with the other managers. I'm hesitant to voice my opinion in senior management meetings, and now my peers don't think I know what I'm doing.

Help! I need to fit in so that my boss doesn't think that he made a big mistake!

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Okay, Jennifer, the first thing you need to do is take a breath and calm down. If you're doubting yourself, it means that you're not feeling confident, and I'll tell you what: your peers can smell that a mile away. And they're going to take advantage of that - don't let them!

Remember all of the reasons why you were hired in the first place. If you're worrying that your boss is going to think that he's made a mistake, you're not positioning yourself from a place of strength. Write down a list of all of the reasons you gave your new boss during your interview that convinced him to hire you. What are the skills that you have? What makes you qualified?

If you're finding success with the people that you're leading on your team, I would go to them and ask them for some feedback on the work environment. What's working in your department? What isn't? What ways can we improve our products or services? Then take their ideas to you next senior management meeting and be an advocate for them. Sometimes we're hesitant to speak up for ourselves or share our personal ideas, but when we're speaking for someone else, we're much more comfortable with putting ideas out there. Plus, if we believe deeply in the people and ideas, we feel empowered enough to fight for them.

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When you're in that meeting with your management peers, pay attention to your body language - if you fidget or cower, you're sending out a message that says YOU don't even believe in what you're saying. So how will anyone else? Pay attention to the concepts you want to share - don't get flustered or ramble. Be clear and concise while presenting and be prepared to answer questions. Understand that you don't have to be a loud, bossy person in order to be heard, but you need to find your voice, let everyone know that you're not a pushover, and be willing to fight for your ideas.

Keep in mind that the higher you get in an organization, the bigger the egos tend to be. Be careful not to offend anyone if you're in disagreement with them. Stay rational and logical and do your best to communicate calmly with them, but never let a little confrontation sway you from speaking up.

Promise me one thing, Jennifer. Promise me that you'll stop thinking that your boss made a mistake in hiring you. I'm going to delete your e-mail to me and I want you to do the same! Repeat after me: "There was no mistake in hiring me. I am successful working with my team, and I have the confidence to be successful working with my peers as well."

"R-E-S-P-E-C-T": learn it, give it, DEMAND it!


For more FREE tips on advancing your career and navigating the workplace, sign up for my FREE e-zine "Lipstick Leadership" at LipstickLeadership.com today! And check out the products I've developed to guide you toward the success you deserve!



I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestioned ability of a man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor. Henry David Thoreau