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Respect (Young HPC | Skills and behaviours)

Respect is at the heart of all human relationships. Having respect for others is vital to valuing them as friends, partners or colleagues. And respecting yourself, and your own strengths and weaknesses, is key to being happy and fulfilled at work.

What is respect?

In the most simple sense, respect is about having a regard for the views, wishes or value of other people. Demonstrating respect means acting in ways that protect or acknowledge these things. As an example, you might show you value colleagues and their time by always turning up promptly to meetings.

Respect is also a behaviour that can be earned through your actions. Often, acting respectfully will itself attract the respect of others. Professionally, you might earn co-workers’ respect by being prepared to get stuck in. Or you might find yourself respecting people who pass on their knowledge to you.

Respect is important outside the workplace, too. You might earn your family’s respect by helping out with chores or contributing to the finances. In personal relationships, being respectful might mean asking about others’ feelings, experiences and needs, and reflecting this in how you behave towards them.

“If you disrespect anybody that you run into how in the world do you think anybody's s'posed to respect you?”

Respect Yourself, The Staple Singers

Respect yourself

While it’s often overlooked, it’s important to have respect for yourself. By this we mean valuing your own time, beliefs, wishes and experience; and not neglecting these in the interests of others. Respecting yourself helps ensure that you aren’t overlooked or, worse, taken advantage of. It’s also fundamental to ensuring you take pride in your work and professional life.

Examples of respect in action

Respect can manifest itself in many ways – and it’s easy to betray a lack of respect, too. Here are some examples of both.

Amy is organising a work party for a diverse range of staff. She’s aware that her Muslim colleagues don’t drink, and that the team contains at least two vegetarians. She creates a quick, confidential survey to check everyone’s dietary and entertainment preferences, and any access requirements. Amy has shown respect by checking her colleagues’ needs. She’s also respected her employers’ commitment to inclusivity across all business activities.

On site one day, a worker uses a slur to describe an absent colleague. Rather than join in, Ryan calls out the behaviour. His colleague Harry backs him up, but the atmosphere remains sour in the team. By stopping the name-calling, Ryan has demonstrated respect for his colleague and the company’s workplace values. He’s also shown respect for his own belief in what is right. While he’s risked alienating some of the team, he and Harry have earned each other’s respect.

Lola is chairing a rowdy brainstorming meeting. One of her quieter colleagues keeps getting interrupted and, eventually, becomes withdrawn. Lola interrupts the group to give her colleague the chance to voice her opinion. In doing so, she’s demonstrating respect for her and, in turn, earning her respect.

Why is respect important in the workplace?

Everybody likes to feel that they are valued. In the workplace this means acknowledging that our colleagues’ time, experience and skills are as important as our own. On a more fundamental level, it means valuing and treating people equally, regardless of their background, identity or beliefs.

Employees need to work in a culture that respects these differences. This protection is enshrined in UK employment law, which protects people from workplace discrimination, harassment or bullying.

Respect is important to company culture. A recent report  found that employees experiencing a low level of respect are 26% more likely to quit their jobs.

The 2010 Equality Act states that every employee or potential employee should have equal access to all of an organisation’s facilities. It’s against the law to discriminate against workers based on any of these nine characteristics :

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Race
  • Disability
  • Pregnancy
  • Marital status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender reassignment
  • Religious background

How might you have demonstrated respect at school or college?

You don’t need to be the smartest student to have demonstrated respect at college. Simply turning up, being prepared to learn and having good discipline are ways of showing respect to your teachers and classmates.

If you’ve volunteered at any clubs or programmes, or been a monitor, prefect or similar, you’ve doubtless shown and earned respect. Students who positively represent the school in a game, sport or other activity are likely to have shown respect too – both to the school, and to their opponents.

If you’ve had a job already, you may have shown respect to those who trained you, to the people you worked with, or to the customers you served. Perhaps you’ve helped out in the community, tidying parks or supporting grassroots charities. These kinds of activities show respect for the environment and people where you live.

How can you develop respect?

As an exercise, it can be helpful to think about the people who you value:

  • Do you always act considerately towards them?
  • Are there times when you don’t show respect?
  • How might you be more respectful?


Showing people respect means understanding how to regulate our behaviour towards others. For instance, being considerate and respectful of another’s person’s viewpoint, rather than using aggression to get your point across. It’s helpful to develop emotional awareness: putting yourself in someone else’s position and imagining how they’d feel. Remind yourself too of why you value the people you live and work with.

How can you demonstrate respect?

Be considerate, don’t cause offence, and if necessary, act to protect the workplace rights of others. For example, by calling out bullying through the appropriate channel.

You may be able to look back on your time at college for previous examples of respect. And remember: every communication or meeting with an employer is a chance to show respect. Be engaged and prepared when you deal with others. Turn up on time for any interviews or meetings; dress smartly; and remember to listen carefully to the instructions or ideas of others.

In a job, placement or apprenticeship, show and earn respect by acting professionally and considerately. Remember to respect your employer, both at work and in your free time – they’re investing time and money in your career!

Useful links

  1. The importance of respect in the workplace (CPD Online)

  2. What is empathy? Find out in this article from Verywell Mind

  3. What is allyship? Read more about this on The Muse

  4. Want to earn the respect of others? Have a read of this blog, also on The Muse

Related skills

Showing respect in the workplace demonstrates emotional awareness – as you’re sensitive to others’ needs, values and opinions. 

Respect often goes hand in hand with other skills too – like time management and communication, if you’re being respectful of others.

Then there are the behaviours that are a way to demonstrate respect for others – such as a willingness to learn and being committed and responsible.

Become a member

Are you aged between 16 and 21? If so, please click on the link below to register for Young HPC.

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