Sometimes I think we forget to give people the basic respect they deserve as individuals when we are in the work place.
I was always taught that when you’re working you leave your personal feelings at the door and it’s all the work. As managers, this is even more true. Despite what we may think of an individual worker, we need to be professional and fair. We need to be practicing in anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive ways.
I have recently been witness to a manager speaking to someone in a very condescending, dismissive and flippant manner then obviously reacting to the workers understandable distaste of this treatment. As someone who has been through the same type of treatment I can honestly say it is incredibly undermining especially when done publicly. It can damage a worker’s confidence. It can damage their ability to be efficiency. It can create a tense and contentious work environment.
When it comes to my Social Work practice, I treat people the way I would want someone to treat my family should they every need to access services. When it comes to management, I do my best to give my workers the same respect I want to be given. It’s a basic human principle. As managers, workers see the way they are treated and the way others are treated. I am not ignoring the fact that there are some workers that require a level of authoritative management that others do no, but I am not talking about their individual needs as workers. Here I am simply talking about the way in which people communicate with each other.
Respect is paramount in any working relationship and if the working relationship is to work that respect has to work both ways, it cannot be one dimensional. I think as professionals when we learn to treat people they way we would like to be treated, talk to people the way in which we would want to be spoken, help others the way we would want ourselves or our family members helped we would create working environments that are free flowing open, honest and transparent.
I have never been one to play politics. I despise the entire practice. But I have been a witness and party to people who do, those who have their own agendas, those who make assumptions about my character without ever having engaged with me, those who have appreciated me as long as I went along with their plans and didn’t exercise any amount of individual personality what so ever. It’s leaves you in a very bad place; a place in which you can feel stifled and belittled in the work environment.
I urge Social Workers, Social work managers, and likewise any other professionals, to keep personal issues and problems outside of the office. When you come to work, be prepared to work and to focus. There are times when things are going on in your personal life that effect you in a way that inhibits your ability to focus, maybe these are days you need to stay away from work and reflect on how to improve your disposition.
As human beings we all want to be respected and in many instances understood as individuals and not made victims of other people’s opinions of us. Give people an opportunity to show you who they are. Judge people on their own merit and not assumptions and be open to being proven wrong. Learn to be the person you expect others to be and we can create environments where people learn, grow, and make positive contributions.