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Respect at Work

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Are you supportive? Always?

Posted on 1 July, 2019 at 0:00

 Photo by Artem Beliaikin @belart84 on Unsplash

How supported a person feels can make a crucial difference in whether stressful workplace situations escalate into problems.  So my question is; Is it difficult to support a co-worker?  I think the first answer for most people is 'no, of course not' — great answer!  With prodding however, 'no, of course not' sometimes becomes, 'well, it depends', who is it?, 'is there any potential cost to me and my job?', or, 'what have they done?'. 

The role of bystander at work is a powerful and important role, your choice of empathy or indifference will make a difference in someone's life.  A simple 'are you ok?', a supportive touch on the shoulder, gentle eye contact, can make a difference to someone who is struggling with a task, situation, day or year.  Even better is to share a cup of tea, have a real conversation or go for a walk together.  The challenge for workplaces, teams and managers is to help bystanders feel comfortable and safe to speak up and offer support.

Feeling supported isn't just for when times are stressful.  We live in a diverse society and our workplaces (mostly) refelect that diversity, whether it be age differences, with many employees staying in the workforce for longer, mental illness, or 'coming out' at work.  Inclusion is what happens when people feel they belong and can be their authentic selves.  Being supported to be your authentic self at work makes a difference, without that freedom people try to hold back an integral part of themselves.  I know that when I am free and valued and not fearful of how my diversity might be judged, I bring my whole self to the workplace — everybody wins.

Everyone has the right to be supported.  Everyone has the right to be shown respect, dignity and consideration, to their everyday self, their culture, their beliefs, their values and their personal characteristics.  It's easy to be supportive of our friends or when it suits us, my responsibility as an employee is to exercise duty of care for ALL of my workmates, ALL of the time — this starts with support and respect.

Respect at Work can help your teams to unpack and recommit to support and respect.

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