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Employee Assistance Program EAP Blog

Respect in the Workplace PowerPoint Training for Employees: Ten Areas of Disrespect for PPT Training (DVD, Video, or Web Course)

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Mastering the Respectful Workplace: 10 Tips to Boost Productivity and Morale

Preview the respect program and learn more about it

Preview this full 88 image, editable, customize-able 30 minute product with handouts, role plays, test, and certificate of completion.

1. Dignifying the Differences in Others

2. Avoiding Sexual Harassment

3. Stifling Rumors and Foregoing Gossip

4. Voicing Concerns and Opinions Diplomatically

5. Nonverbal Workplace Communication Nixes Morale

6. Rejecting Bullying and Ridicule

7. Excuse me! Respecting Others' Space

8. Restraining Impulsive Behavior on the Job

9. Criticize in Private (If You Must)

10. Cut the noise! Distractions in the Modern Office

Content from the First Five Chapters of the Respectful in the Workplace PowerPoint,
DVD, Web Course (You own), or Video for Web Use (MP4) - The content below has been professionally narrated into the program.

Chapter One: Dignify Differences in People

It’s easy to respect co-workers who are a mirror image of you. If they share your background, ethnicity and attitudes, you may develop an instant affinity for them.
The challenge comes when you work with people who are not like you—at least on the surface. Whether they wear different kinds of clothes or speak in thick accents, you may allow your biases to interfere and draw certain conclusions as a result.

The cornerstone of a respectful workplace is tolerance. Colleagues accept differences in each other rather than fear them. They look past skin color, religion and other factors in an effort to get to know the actual person.

Some people fail to overcome their negative first impressions of others. These initial judgments, often based on one’s prejudices or preconceived notions, can cloud our ability to treat everyone with dignity, fairness and open-mindedness.

To build bonds with diverse co-workers:

Listen for understanding, not agreement. Look past differences in opinion or outlook; instead, focus on understanding a colleague’s views and perspective. Listen with the goal of appreciating how others see the world. Avoid the trap of tuning out simply because someone makes a comment that you deem incorrect. Probe to learn why the speaker thinks that way.

Avoid labels. Monitor your speech patters—and thinking style—to check whether you label people. Beware of adopting the “Jess is a X and all Xs are like that” mentality. A label carries a series of false assumptions that breed stereotypes. What begins as seemingly harmless labeling can degenerate into dismissive and derogatory remarks.

TIP: If you disagree with someone’s views, react with curiosity rather than defensiveness. Ask at least one earnest, non-threatening question to dig for more information. Be willing to change your mind if the facts warrant it.

IT’S TRUE: George Kelly (1905-1967), a personality psychologist, found that we tend to perceive people through constructs (tall-short, slim-pudgy, etc.). If we meet a short, pudgy individual, for example, it can subconsciously trigger unfair impressions such as “lazy” and “sloppy.” Withhold judgment as much as possible and you’ll expand your frame of reference.

TRUE OR FALSE: If you hear a joke that could be hurtful to others, you should speak up.

[TRUE: It’s your responsibility to reject offensive jokes. If you don’t voice your objection right away, your silence implies consent. Permitting cruel jokes—even once--breeds a less tolerant, more divisive workplace.]

TIP 2: Avoid Sexual Harassment (Respect in the Workplace PowerPoint)

Sexual harassment consists of unwelcome sexual advances or behaviors that create an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment. Examples range from repeated offensive jokes to displays or discussions of pornography to outright sexual assault. Any conduct of a sexual nature that makes an employee uncomfortable may qualify as sexual harassment.

With such a broad legal definition, sexual harassment can take many forms. Pinching, fondling or other harassing physical contact clearly crosses the line. But your words can prove equally inappropriate, especially if you speak in sexually explicit terms or demean an individual in sexist terms. Crude actions such as posting sexually explicit stories or cartoons on a bulletin board—or circulating email “jokes”—also fall under the definition.

Many employees think, “Oh, I’d never engage in sexual harassment.” But it pays to understand what constitutes this kind of behavior and review your employer’s policy in addressing it. Take these steps:

Check your employee handbook, read the policy and make sure you understand it.

If your organization provides training sessions that cover this topic, listen attentively. Cracking jokes or disrupting the proceedings in other ways can undermine the seriousness of the subject matter and anger or alienate your peers.

Alert your supervisor of any sexually explicit act that you observe, even if you’re unsure if it qualifies as sexual harassment. Sharing your concerns raises awareness—and that creates a more vigilant, respectful workplace. Some organizations also provide a hotline to discuss such matters.

TIP: If you’re reluctant to report an incident—because you’re unsure if it’s sexual harassment or you feel uncomfortable policing your peers—overcome your doubt and speak up. Allowing even borderline sexual harassment to go unchallenged (whether it happens to you or you observe it) can make you feel upset, cynical and unmotivated. If you prefer not to go directly to your supervisor, contact the EAP.

IT’S TRUE: Sexual harassment is prohibited by federal and state laws. The Civil Rights Act is the primary federal law that applies, and each state has its own law as well. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws.

TRUE OR FALSE: Legally, sexual harassment requires that men sexually harass women.

[FALSE: Women can sexually harass men, although women report most sexual harassment claims against men. What’s more, people of the same sex can engage in this kind of harassment. This can happen when, say, a married man’s colleagues repeatedly tell sexually explicit jokes that he finds offensive.]

TIP 3 Stifle rumors and forgo gossip

Office gossip can range from harmless chitchat about a colleague’s experiences coaching Little League to mean-spirited remarks about an individual’s alleged drug habit. Left unchecked, gossip can feed rumors that contribute to a distrustful and conflict-ridden workplace.

In addition to gossiping about one’s personal life, employees often whisper about work-related rumors that typically focus on layoffs, relocations and other potentially big news. Murmurs about such serious developments can prove so distracting that performance plummets.

Through your actions, you can create an environment that shuts down malicious gossip. It’s not enough to rise above it. You need to go a step further and stop it in its tracks. When you hear others spreading rumors, speak up.

Lecturing others rarely works; they may resent your policing their behavior. A better tactic is to redirect them with friendly questions or comments such as “Can we talk about something important—like where we’re going for lunch?” or “That reminds me of something funny…” The one exception is when the gossip is so malicious that you must confront it by saying, “That sounds like a rumor to me” and walk away.

If the rumor involves the head of the marketing department, depersonalize the conversation by asking a related question such as, “Speaking of marketing, what do you think of our company’s advertising campaign?” Look for openings to shift the discussion to more substantive issues and you will foster trust and teamwork.

TIP: If you’re privy to sensitive information, rehearse with your supervisor how (and if) you should communicate it to others. Then stay “on message” so that you consistently state the same point using the same language. This works better than improvising each time and possibly revealing too much or making a misstatement.

IT’S TRUE: While managers can take steps to prevent rumors by opening lines of communication with all employees, the ultimate responsibility lies with you. You can quell gossip by leaving the room or changing the subject.

TRUE OR FALSE: It’s okay to engage in gossip if you ask yourself, “Would I be willing to tell this face-to-face to the person I’m gossiping about?”

[FALSE: That’s like looking for an excuse to indulge in gossip! The moment you give yourself permission to talk about others behind their back, there’s no guarantee that you’ll stick with positive, non-threatening observations about them. It’s more likely that you will eventually say something that would prove hurtful to that person.]

TIP 4 State concerns and opinions diplomatically

Whenever you volunteer your opinions or concerns, you take a risk. If you speak respectfully and tactfully, others may appreciate your tone and heed your views. But if you preach or pontificate—telling people what they “should” do—they may chafe at your remarks.

Your intelligence can actually work against you when trying to state opinions like a diplomat. If you think you’re smarter than others, you may share well-intentioned insights in an effort to help them understand how to solve a problem. Yet they may perceive you as a know-it-all or worse—triggering ill will that harms your workplace relationships.

Ensure that you only raise reasonable concerns and insightful opinions. Follow these tips:

Establish a give-and-take conversational rhythm. Rather than spout your ideas, ask lots of questions so that others do most of the talking. Listen attentively and show interest in how they arrived at their conclusions. If you do a good job engaging others, they will usually come around to asking what you think or believe.

Ideally, it’s better to wait for an invitation to share your concerns rather than jump in with unsolicited opinions.

Give an overview of your evidence or support. When stating your concerns, cite your support or justification in a one-sentence overview. Example: “Based on three instances in which we lost a potential customer, I’m concerned that our sales pitch isn’t working very well.”

Numbering your strands of evidence alerts others that you can back up your claim. If they wish to learn more, they can ask you to explain the three points in detail.

Be brief. It’s a thin line between giving opinions and holding court. If you talk too much, you can drive away potential allies.

TIP: Speak in a positive tone without attacking those with differing perspectives. A safe way to preface a controversial comment is to say, “Reasonable people can disagree, but my take is…” This way, you avoid lacing your concerns with criticisms of others.

IT’S TRUE: Validate what people say and they’ll listen more actively to your suggestions. By building on what you hear, you make your concern or opinion stand out. Quote others whenever possible before giving your views. Example: You said you’d like to streamline this process. I agree. Here’s a way to do that.”

TRUE OR FALSE: When you share an opinion, you should always be ready to support it.

[TRUE: Opinions carry more weight when they’re accompanied with backup in the form of evidence, statistics or personal experience. You don’t need to bring up all your evidence right away. But if others ask for it, you’ll strengthen your case by citing reliable, powerful support.]

TIP 5 Exhibit Appropriate Nonverbal Cues

Sometimes what you don’t say conveys more than what you do say. A single gesture or facial expression can send a loud and clear message.

That’s why, even if you speak respectfully, sloppy or hostile body language can work against you. Saying, “I think you’re making a good point” while rolling your eyes and shaking your head in disapproval will sow seeds of doubt and distrust. People will more readily believe what they see you do than what they hear you say.

Adopt a listening posture that communicates your openness and curiosity. Keep your hands at your sides, rather than rubbing your scalp or eyes. Avoid resting your head in your hands or folding your arms across your chest like a drill sergeant.

Don’t doodle, twist a rubber band or glance repeatedly at your computer screen while someone is talking to you. Maintain a neutral facial expression, especially if you disagree. Beware of letting your negative emotions (such as anger, dismay or fear) dictate your nonverbal conduct. You may alienate people just by glaring at them or with a dismissive wave of your hand.

The proper nonverbal response to a speaker can enhance your ability to build rapport. Signal your interest with friendly eye contact, nods of understanding and genuine looks of concern or surprise. Speakers confide more frequently in listeners who seem actively engaged in the conversation.

TIP: Ask a trusted friend to observe you for a week and keep a record of your body language. Then ask for a report. Having a supportive ally give you feedback on your mannerisms and expressions can increase your awareness of both appropriate and inappropriate nonverbal cues.

IT’S TRUE: If you’re impatient, you may keep bobbing your head up and down while someone speaks. Don’t overdo it. Research shows that most people will interpret your first two or three head nods as genuine. After that, your nodding can appear phony and make others feel patronized.

[DAN: This info on head nods is from page 72 of the book Winning Moves by Ken Delmar (1984, Warner Books)]

TRUE OR FALSE: If you disagree, you should shake your head while the person talks to show that you object.

[FALSE: Many speakers dislike addressing someone who’s shaking their head back and forth. It’s distracting and polarizing. A better approach is to keep still while you listen. When it’s your turn to respond, you can politely raise your concern.]

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