How to Gain Respect From Your Boss or Manager
The entire team is gathered in the office brainstorming. You try to say something, but your boss quickly speaks up, effectively cutting you off before you share your opinion.
He summarizes whatever was discussed, and brings the brainstorming session to an end.
You are tempted to brush it off by telling yourself that your boss either didn’t hear you or is probably getting late for another meeting.
Problem is, this is not the first time something like this has happened.
If you have repeatedly found yourself in such situations, there is a chance that your boss does not respect you.
He or she does not take you seriously and probably has doubts about your professionalism, skill, intelligence, trustworthiness, or loyalty.
If you have been in such situations, you probably know how much this hurts and how devastating it can be for your career.
Respect is social currency. The richer you are in respect, the higher your standing is within a group or in society.
This applies even at the workplace.
When people of high social standing in a group respect you, some of their esteem is transferred to you – those who admire them respect you because these high-status individuals show you respect.
Who is more high-status in a workplace than the boss?
This means that if the boss has no respect for you, it will be very difficult to get respect from your colleagues.
When the boss does not respect you, the whole office follows the boss’s lead. This is not good at all for the future of your career within that organization.
For the sake of safeguarding your future in the organization or in your career, it is imperative that you learn the do’s and don’ts of relating with your boss in order to earn his/her respect.
Below, let’s take a look at some tips that will help you earn your boss’s respect.
1. PROVIDE SOLUTIONS
One of the reasons that might cause a manager or boss to lack respect for you is incessant complaining. No one likes a complainer.
Are you always complaining? What is your attitude towards problems or challenges that crop up in the course of your work?
Maybe you are intimidated by things that challenge your normal way of doing things. Maybe you don’t want to think outside the box because it’s too much work.
Maybe you are afraid of taking risks. Whatever the reason, instead of solving the problem yourself, you go to the boss and expect him/her to drop everything and solve your problems.
Your boss doesn’t want to do your job for you. The boss wants you to show initiative. The boss wants to know that you are someone who can be depended on.
He or she wants you to roll with the punches, take challenges head-on, and use up all your wits to come up with creative solutions to challenges encountered in your work.
If you want your boss to respect you, be a solution-provider, not a whiner.
This shows the boss that you are someone who is willing to go the extra mile, someone capable and creative.
Such a person will be respected by everyone at the workplace, including the boss.
Even if your solution is not the best one, the boss will respect the fact that you at least tried or had the courage to present it.
That show of initiative is the truly attractive thing that will make you a hit with the boss.
Initiative is a quality of leaders, of people who can be in charge, who can be trusted to take care of things, get things done without needing “babysitting”.
If you show initiative, not only will your boss respect, but he/she is highly likely to trust you with greater responsibilities.
2. SHOW RESPECT TO GET RESPECT
Respect is a two-way street. This might sound like a cliché, but it’s true.
If someone disrespects you, especially someone below you in a group’s hierarchy, will you continue to be respectful of them?
It is difficult to treat with respect those who treat you with disdain.
Bosses are human too. If you disrespect them, do not expect them to reciprocate with respect.
This is especially applicable in situations where you might be more educated or seem to have more technical knowledge than your boss, manager or supervisor.
For instance, if you are an excellent coder but your boss is an MBA, stop trying to show how you are better than him because you have superior technical skills.
This will only make your boss feel belittled and disrespected, and it will be an uphill task getting him to show you respect when you don’t do the same.
Sometimes, however, there might be something making you feel like your boss is not worthy the respect. How do you develop a sense of respect for them if they seem to you unworthy of it?
They key is to look for something admirable about them. No matter who a person is or their personality, there is always at least one or two things about them that you can admire. It may not even be job-related.
It could be their impeccable dressing. It could be something as simple as their articulation.
It could be their meticulousness, or their ability to take charge, or their even-temperedness, or their ability to listen. Find that quality in them and focus on it.
You could even come up with a list of attractive qualities your boss has, make a game out of it.
This can help you re-engineer your own attitude towards your boss and give you a sense of respect towards them.
There are other ways of showing respect to your boss. For instance, try not to contradict your boss in public.
It’s true speaking up shows initiative, but sometimes when you do it in public it can come off as if you are belittling your boss’s capabilities.
In this case, you will have to learn the language of tact.
If you have to speak up against the boss in front of colleagues, do it with tact, softening the blow so your boss’s ego doesn’t feel attacked.
Where possible, though, wait until after the meeting and present your objections to the boss.
Who knows – you could be the one in the wrong and the boss will open your eyes to that reality.
In that case, you would have accomplished two things which will make the boss respect you: one, you’d have shown that you had the tact to wait until after the meeting, and two, you’d have shown that you have the courage to fight for what you think is a better idea.
However, this is relative. Some bosses actually like it when someone contradicts their opinion.
These are bosses who like debate because it helps them arrive at a better solution.
Figure out what approach is most appropriate with your boss and apply it.
In addition, avoid leading with statements such as “with all due respect”.
Such phrases suggest politeness, but they are merely prefaces to a sting. If you use them often, it actually suggests that you don’t respect your boss.
Every time you begin a sentence with that phrase, your manager cringes.
Even if you do actually respect the boss, that kind of phrase is associated, on the emotional level, with memories when people have said “with all due respect” and then immediately shown disrespect.
3. BE A PERSON OF YOUR WORD
Making promises is an easy thing to do. Anyone can do it.
The real test of character is the ability to follow through and deliver what you promised.
If you have the habit of promising big things and delivering less than that, your will lose the respect of your boss and colleagues.
Respect is earned, and one way to earn it is by keeping your word. Your word should be your bond. At work, this applies to deadlines, quality of your deliverables, and targets.
When the boss knows that you can deliver whatever you are entrusted with, he or she will start trusting you with more responsibilities and special assignments.
These are the most lucrative kinds of assignments because they raise your social capital in the office and make the boss even more aware of your capabilities.
This translates into a cache of respect that will be very hard to puncture, unless you mess up really badly.
This is the reason some brash characters who are seen as loud-mouths and loose cannons seem to be always in demand and respected by their colleagues and superiors in spite of their somewhat unlikeable personalities.
These are characters who have discovered the secret of earning respect, which is to deliver everything they say that they will.
If you can deliver on what you promise, even in tough situations, your reputation will soar, and the amount of respect accorded to you by your colleagues and boss will follow suit.
4. OWN UP TO YOUR MISTAKES
We are not perfect. We are human, after all. As such, we all make mistakes. However, what differentiates us is how we react to the mistakes we have made.
When you make a mistake at work, are you the kind of person who tries to shift the blame for the mistake to others? If you are this kind of person, rest assured that your boss will never respect you.
Passing blame on to your colleagues is the mark of a person who has no scruples, no character. If you pass blame on to your subordinates, that is even worse.
Do not blame circumstances either. Do not blame external forces.
Even if there is nothing you could have done, avoid the temptation to try and come up with excuses to absolve yourself from the mistake. It is a show of cowardice and bad faith.
Instead of blaming others or coming up with flimsy excuses to explain the mistake, what you should do to own up and take responsibility for the mistake.
Accept that a mistake was made and rather than trying to apportion blame, work on trying to fix it or finding out how you can prevent similar mistakes in future.
Even if you were to blame, your boss will respect the fact that you are more focused on rectifying the mistake or trying to prevent a similar mistake from happening rather than saving your skin.
Owning up communicates confidence, integrity, trustworthiness, initiative, and supreme leadership ability.
These are the sort of qualities that make superiors not only respect you, but admire you and want to entrust you with greater responsibilities.
Even when circumstances are out of your control, the responsibility for the task you have been assigned remains yours.
Owning up to your mistakes shows that you understand this and are willing to put yourself on the line for it.
5. BE A STARTER RATHER THAN A WAITER
All companies, organizations, and businesses have a mission. The more attuned you are as an employee to the overall mission of your organization, the more valuable you are.
Employees who are attuned to their company’s mission do not sit around at their desks waiting for tasks to come to them.
They are eager to work, eager to show their ability, eager to do their part in helping the organization achieve its objectives.
Such employees possess a quality that is very valuable at the workplace. I’m talking about initiative.
Employees who possess initiative do their best to add value. They do not just do what has been laid out for them. They make sure that they always go the extra mile.
They do their best to make their boss’s work easier. An employee who has initiative does not stop at what the boss has asked them to do.
They will ask themselves, “What does the boss really need?” They then go ahead to deliver what is needed rather than just what was asked for.
This employee may even take it upon themselves to perform little improvements here and there on things that no one pays any attention to, but which can potentially make things better within the organization.
It goes without saying that showing initiative will make your boss respect you more.
You should, however, take care not to go overboard.
Sometimes doing too much can seem “grasping,” as if you are trying too hard to outshine everyone else.
This will produce the opposite effect. You will be seen as being too eager for respect, which will make people lose respect for you.
Continuing from the previous point, it is important to take initiative, but it is even more important to be modest while at it.
Once you do something that was not expected of you, or something that has had a significant impact within your department or even the entire organization, don’t go shouting about it to anyone who cares to listen.
Let others do the talking. Let them praise you, rather than praising yourself. Modesty in accomplishment earns you massive respect.
No one likes or respects arrogance, even if it is backed by excellent performance. Unfortunately, arrogance is a common failing among people who are good at their jobs.
If you want the respect of your boss and even colleagues, you should have the modesty and presence of mind not to walk around flaunting your achievements or bullying others who you deem unaccomplished in comparison to yourself.
By being modest about your achievements, your boss will see you as a mature person, which is one of the characteristics that attracts respect.
That said, sometimes a little bragging can be good as it ensures your colleagues and superiors learn your worth – a bit like personal branding. But take care not to take it overboard.
7. DON’T WASTE COMPANY RESOURCES
Some employees are contemptuous of the company’s time and resources, especially when they work for a large corporation or the government where they feel that such wastage is negligible.
Unfortunately, wastage, no matter how small, has a ripple effect. If most of the company’s employees wasted time and resources, this would result in a huge loss in productivity and profit.
If you as an individual employee make a habit of wasting time and resources regularly, it too results in a huge loss of your individual productivity and value.
It will be difficult for your boss to respect you when you have no respect for company time and resources.
Take the internet for example.
The internet is provided in the office to assist you in performing your assigned tasks.
However, you habitually use the company’s Wi-Fi to download movies, and spend most of your day on Facebook or Instagram when you should be working.
Even if the boss does not say anything to you, he/she probably knows what you do, and will have no respect for you because they know you are an irresponsible employee who has no respect for his/her work.
8. LEARN TO GET ALONG WITH YOUR CO-WORKERS
If you have an abrasive, antagonistic personality that causes you to be ever at loggerheads with your colleagues, it communicates a bad message about you.
The manager is a team leader, like an officer commanding a platoon.
No officer wants his men to be in conflict and disarray. The desire is for the entire troop to be in cordial terms. As such, disagreeable soldiers who ruin everyone’s mood are seen as a liability.
In the same way, if you are the disagreeable person in your office who stirs up controversy all the time, your boss will start viewing you as a liability.
Without cohesiveness and synergy in the office, productivity and efficiency will suffer.
If you want your superiors to respect you, you have to learn how to get along with others.
You don’t have to go around trying to be extremely nice and bringing people home-baked cookies, either.
All you have to do is treat everyone else with the respect they deserve.
Say hi to your colleagues. If small talk is necessary, humor them. Avoid behaviors that come off as aggressive and off-putting.
Such small acts will show that you can work well within a team and will increase your boss’s respect for you.
9. OBSERVE AND UNDERSTAND YOUR BOSS
Bosses are different. What works for one may not necessarily work for another. For instance, some bosses like to be challenged.
They enjoy the back and forth of a debate. It helps them figure out what they need.
On the other hand, there are bosses who hate to be challenged and take it as a slight against them. Some bosses like employees who take initiative.
On the other hand, there are bosses who see too much initiative as a threat and imagine that you are after their job.
You must therefore be very careful when you are executing these strategies.
Their success is not guaranteed. Some of them might be incompatible with your boss’s personality.
Therefore, you should observe your boss’s personality and leadership style.
Figure out what they like and don’t like and then act accordingly.
It might seem tiresome having to go to all this trouble, but it shouldn’t be. Isn’t this exactly what you would do if you were dealing with a client?
You assume the customer is always right, even when they are wrong, and instead of bludgeoning them on the head with your facts or better argument, you find a way to tactfully guide them to your way of thinking. In the same way, you must understand your boss and find tactful ways to deal with him/her.
If anything, this is the highest show of respect – the fact that you took the time to understand who your boss really is and went out of your way to accommodate them.
For instance, if your boss has a hands-off approach, never trouble them with a problem until you are sure that you have done everything you could.
Such a boss values employees who have the initiative to do things on their own.
If your boss has a tendency to micro-manage, don’t tell him/her to stop micro-managing you.
Prepare regular reports of what you are working on, even if the boss hasn’t asked for them. He/she will appreciate that you understand his/her need for immersion in everything going on at the office.
Earning respect from your boss is not difficult. The first principle of respect is “show respect to get respect”.
Therefore, start by showing respect for your boss.
Otherwise, it will be a tall order for you to get your boss to respect you if you don’t respect them.
The second thing you should keep in mind is that “to get respect, you should do that which is worthy of respect.” Ask yourself what are the qualities that are worthy of respect in an employee.
Put yourself in your boss’s shoes and think about that.
More likely than not, you will come up with the qualities and behaviors we have covered in this article.
Act on them and eventually, or sooner, you will get the respect you crave.
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