5 Traits Of People Who Are Respected At Work (And Get The Most Career Opportunities)

Happy and respected professionals at work

I had a sad career coaching call with an extremely successful woman recently. When she told me her career story, which I have all my clients do, her story was riddled with a highway of situations where she was taken advantage of, where she wasn't given the respect that she deserved.

As a career coach, I have each person tell me their career story because I can always tell, based on the story, where your sticking points and roadblocks are. And for this woman, it clearly was getting herself into situations where they wouldn't respect her. She was almost in tears while telling me this, but she was still so professional, and then she said, "What is it going to take, JT? What is it going to take for me to get into one of these environments and not be taken advantage of?"

I didn't want to give her a pat answer, so I said I was going to sleep on it and then come back and tell her the traits I see in people who are respected at work and, therefore, get the best career opportunities. I want to share those five traits with you because I think it's important that everyone hear them.

1. They See Themselves As A Business-Of-One.

The first trait I see in people who are respected at work is they always see themselves as a business-of-one. They don't work for a company. They work with them. They partner with them. Therefore, right out of the gate, there's mutual respect. Then, if they start disrespecting you, you can have a conversation and tell them that they're either going to get this right or you're going to go find a new partner because you're not going to be treated that way. You're not going to allow yourself to be treated that way. It's about setting boundaries and addressing the disrespect before it gets out of hand. Respected employees are able to communicate these boundaries without being harsh.

2. They Aren't Complainers; They're Curious.

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The second trait is they aren't complainers; they're curious. Nobody likes to work with complainers. The people who are respected at work don't walk in and dump a problem on a manager's desk. Instead, when they see a problem, they meet with people and they get curious. They ask questions. They try to understand. In fact, one of their favorite phrases to use is "help me understand." They ask clarifying questions to get to the source of the problem so that hopefully the people they're talking to can realize the problem, but if not, it gives them permission to then point it out and have a conversation.

3. They Ask Questions Instead Of Bossing People Around.

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The third trait is they get really good at "ask, don't tell." They don't boss everyone around. They don't tell everyone what to do. They know how to ask questions so that things become other people's ideas and they get permission to then share their points of view, their ideas, and their perspectives. It's how they get buy-in. It's how they get consensus. And, again, it's how they gain and keep people's respect.

4. They Talk About Their Results, Not Their Character.

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The fourth trait is they talk about their results. They don't talk about their character. You know that you have to be your biggest self-advocate in the workplace, and you're hired to save or make money. You're hired to solve problems and alleviate pain, so when you're talking about the results that you were able to get, when you're talking about what's actually valued, not that you were a great team player, etc., you'll stand out and be respected for the value that you create on the job. You're going to have to find strategic ways to talk about your results without bragging or sounding like a narcissist to make sure that people understand the quantifiable impact that you've had on the company, and the people who are respected at work do this well.

5. They Never Initially Disagree With Someone.

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Lastly, the people who are respected at work never initially disagree with someone. This might be a hot take, but whenever they clearly disagree with someone, they don't say "I disagree." That's not how they lead the conversation. What they do instead is they find a commonality with the person, something they can agree on, and then they talk about that. These people know how to disarm somebody by talking about what they agree upon first before they discuss where they have differences or disagreements.

I'm sure there are more traits you could add to this list, but when I really looked at the people who are the most respected at work, who are incredibly successful and seem to get all the opportunities they want, they're doing these five things consistently in their careers. They have these five traits. And it's having an incredible impact on their brand.

If you're struggling with getting respect at work, I can help. Sign up for a Work It DAILY membership today (FREE for 7 days!).

Good luck, and go get 'em!