A study of nearly 20,000 employees around the globe by the Harvard Business Review found that employees who get respect from their leaders reported 89 percent greater enjoyment and satisfaction from their jobs, 92 percent greater focus and prioritisation, and 1.26 times more meaning and significance. But unfortunately, 54 percent of the respondents claimed that they don’t regularly get respect from their leaders. Whether you’re starting a new job or a couple of years into a cushy position, no one wants to be the office clown. Instead of waiting around for your boss and co-workers to notice you, here’s what you can do to boost your credibility in the workplace and make sure you get treated with the respect you deserve.
1. Look the part
Face it, we’re judgmental beings. We make harsh criticisms about a person’s character and abilities from the way they look all the time. You included. Look sloppy and people are going to think your work is careless. Look put-together and they’re going to think you’re organised and capable.
You don’t need to blow your month’s salary on a trendy new wardrobe, but make sure that dress shirt is creaseless and you’ve taken care of your incorrigible bed head. Men, your ungroomed facial hair is doing you no favours, so invest in a good trimmer if you’re afraid your baby face is going to ruin your reputation as a lady-killer (and get some deodorant while you’re at it).
And it’s not just about your fashion sense. The way we carry ourselves influence whether or not others see us as powerful. Stop slouching and invest in some power heels. Own your personal space by straightening up your shoulders and opening up your arms. Power poses work both ways: they make you appear more powerful to others, and make you feel more powerful too (holding a power pose for just two minutes can raise your level of testosterone by 20% and lower your cortisol level, i.e. the stress hormone).
2. Study up
Whether it’s for the meeting ahead or watercooler talk, do your homework. Unproductive meetings cost millions of dollars worldwide. Don’t wing it. Bring ideas, know exactly what you want to say, back up your ideas with information, and be ready to defend them.
You spend over half your day in the office so it’s up to you to make that time meaningful. This means keeping abreast of trends in the world and having thoughtful conversations with your co-workers, even if you’re taking a cafeteria break. You don’t want to look like a deer caught in headlights when someone starts talking about Uber coming to Dhaka.
3. Drop the “upspeak”
When you end your sentences on a higher inflection than when you started, it’s called “upseak” and our brains interpret that pattern as a question. Upspeak is a serious credibility killer because it makes it seem like you’re asking if your own input is correct. In a survey of 700 managers, Pearson found that 85 percent considered employees who use upspeak to be insecure and emotionally weak.
4. Work on those conversation skills
Tell stories, don’t just give reports. The best TED talks are 75 percent stories and 25 percent data. Stories demonstrate that you can apply what you know and can connect to your audience with emotional intelligence.
It’s also important to not just listen, but encourage others to talk about themselves as well. Self-disclosure makes people feel so good that it causes neurological changes in the brain. Let them talk about themselves first and once they get the ‘feel-good’ rush and start feeling connected to you, they’re bound to take your say more seriously.