Integrity & Respect

Respect Goes A Long Way

Demonstrating personal and professional respect is a fundamental expectation for any workplace. Although some of this belongs in the "everything you learned in kindergarten" basics, it's important that we all understand the value and potential impact of workplace courtesy and respect.

We are all human beings with feelings and are at risk for being hurt. There are also serious consequences for treating a co-worker with disrespect. Bad behavior has derailed many careers, and in extreme cases has resulted in legal action. A common reason good people leave good jobs is because of disrespectful co-workers or bosses.

Professional and respectful Do's

  • Follow the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
  • Be considerate of your co-workers' personal space (never assume touching someone else is welcome) and time.
  • Pay attention to your impact (i.e., how your loud booming voice or annoying cell phone ringtone carries into the next cubicle).
  • Treat others with respect (remember that, culturally, respect means different things to different people). Use "please" and "thank you" regularly (again, what you learned in kindergarten!)
  • Think before you speak. Ask yourself, could this possibly offend someone?
  • Listen well. Give co-workers the benefit of the doubt. If you are always suspicious or overly judgmental, consider what you are communicating to others.
  • Watch your language. Stressful situations can get worse with profanity, finger-pointing or loaded words such as "rude," "unprofessional," "untrustworthy" or "uncaring." Instead, use neutral, descriptive words such as "loud" or "abrupt."
  • Tell co-workers when their behaviors negatively affect you. "I am offended when I hear you using that word. I would like you to stop using it with me."
  • Recognize that being passive aggressive or condescending to co-workers (including snide remarks or sneers) is simply unprofessional.


  • Don't confuse (or excuse) being informal or in a hurry with being rude. We all have busy schedules. It's no excuse for impolite words or behaviors.
  • Don't stereotype or profile co-workers -- instantly sizing them up and developing assumptions about them. Don't give co-workers private nicknames.
  • Don't gossip about or undermine co-workers. It was nasty behavior in junior high, and it still is. It often says more about the person gossiping than the person being bad-mouthed. If you hear people bad-mouthing someone else, try responding with, "Oh, really?" then change the subject or get back to work. If you don't respond, gossipers move on.
  • Don't be the company complainer. It can and will alienate your colleagues. The only good reason to bring up negative issues is to create a plan for resolving them.
  • Don't assume; instead, try expressing empathy vs. judgment. Notice when someone looks tired, unhappy or stressed. Express concern instead of judgments, such as, "What a slacker."

None of this is rocket science, but being aware of your behaviors and their effect on co-workers is important.