7 Reasons You’re Not Getting Respect at Work

HR Intervention

Hello, and welcome to another BizLibrary HR Intervention!  If the super-catchy title for this article managed to trick you into reading this far, then my guess is that you’re occasionally frustrated at work.

Specifically I’m guessing that you’ve occasionally had issues with some of your coworkers. A lot of times it’s their fault – for example, getting mad at you for getting mad at them for catching them pretending to be sick. People do so many ridiculous things that it would be easy to blame others for everything.

However, there might be some legitimate reasons you’re not getting the respect you deserve. You could be a truly contemptible person. But since I’m guessing you’re not a puppy-kicking tyrant, here are 7 more useful things to think about.

1. You are too nice

If this describes you, then you will do whatever it takes to avoid anything that even remotely resembles a confrontation.

When you bring up a problem you’re having with someone, you end the conversation by telling them it isn’t that big a deal and that you’re sorry for bringing it up in the first place.

If you are always nice and forgiving, others will learn that they don’t have to worry about anything that bothers you. Except it does bother you, doesn’t it? But you’re too nice to say anything, so you’ll just quietly seethe until you rupture a blood vessel that everyone will chalk up to your bad diet.

2. You are way too mean

The occasional reprimand is a normal part of our interactions with every single person we spend any significant amount of time with.

The constant railing of an impossible-to-please demonlord, on the other hand, is a bit excessive. If your problem is that your colleagues are productive but not enthusiastic about being so, then you might be shouting more often than is healthy.

Try saving your hour-long tirades for your home improvement projects instead. Nobody will fault you for shouting at grout when it DOESN’T WANT TO STAY IN THE STUPID CRACKS!!!!!

3. You have no actual deadlines

Some issues need to be dealt with today. Some need to be addressed by the end of the week. And some just need to be dealt with, you know, whenever you can get around to it.

The truth is that a lot of our deadlines are arbitrary. Do you absolutely have to complete new hire compliance training by the end of the week? Probably not; you could wait until next week and it wouldn’t destroy your company. But if you don’t impose some artificial urgency from time to time, then no one will worry too much about getting anything accomplished.

4. You don’t think you deserve to be listened to

I remember the first time someone called me a ‘man,’ instead of a ‘boy’ or ‘teenager,’ and it didn’t sound like a word that should be applied to me. And the same thing occasionally happens when we’re placed in a position of authority.

It’s very common to wonder if you deserve the authority you’ve been granted, but you’d better start telling yourself that you actually have earned it.

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Because if you don’t believe it, nobody else will either.

5. You change your mind all the time

Many people – especially overly nice ones who don’t think they deserve to tell anyone else what to do – find themselves asking for certain things and then changing the requirements when they see people struggling.

The impulse here is very noble, but the outcome isn’t. If you continually change the goals others are trying to achieve, it is going to be hard for them to pay a lot of attention to whatever you tell them to do next, since it’ll probably change next week anyway.

6. You’re afraid to admit mistakes

I know you’ve occasionally tried to put your pants on backwards, and I know you’ve walked into glass doors before. But if you pretend that you’ve never done anything wrong, you’ll lose the respect of everyone.

Failure is only failure when you don’t learn anything from it, and you can’t learn anything when you pretend that you never actually failed.

7. You think you know more than you do

If you are not in the habit of learning all the time, and if you are also in the habit of assuming that there’s not much left for you to learn, then the people you work with are almost certainly in the habit of thinking that you’re full of yourself and therefore unworthy of their admiration.

If you don’t feel like you’re getting the respect you deserve, then I hope at least one of these hit home. (But not all of them. Please tell me you don’t identify with all of these!)

Now get out there and earn your colleagues’ respect! Because if you don’t, I will never respect you.

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Jeff Havens is a speaker, author, and professional development expert who tackles leadership, generational, and professional development issues with an exceptional blend of content and entertainment. He is a contributing writer to Fast Company, Entrepreneur, BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal; and has been featured on CNBC and Fox Business. For more information, or to bring Jeff to your next meeting, call 309-808-0884, email, or visit

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Speaker, Author and Professional Development Expert