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No More Mr. Nice Guy: How to Gain Respect From Your Co-workers

There’s at least one in every workplace. The “nice” employee who always treats everyone with respect and kindness. Yet, this is often the person who also gets no respect from co-workers nor does he or she get any true career satisfaction. In fact, so-called nice employees are often those who get walked on by other less nice employees and management. If you’ve found yourself in this position, then it’s time for a new attitude and the respect you deserve.

There’s at least one in every workplace. The “nice” employee who always treats everyone with respect and kindness. Yet, this is often the person who also gets no respect from co-workers nor does he or she get any true career satisfaction. In fact, so-called nice employees are often those who get walked on by other less nice employees and management. If you’ve found yourself in this position, then it’s time for a new attitude and the respect you deserve.

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Being nice at work – is it really worth it?

Do You Know What You're Worth?

It’s one thing to be well-regarded by peers; it’s another to become a doormat. Oftentimes, employees who fall into this trap do so of their own accord. Generally, it’s out of a need to be liked by others in the workplace. But over time, an employee who is used to always saying “yes” and being sweet to everyone else becomes resentful of the less than respectful behaviors of colleagues. Likewise, the employee’s supervisor may not see leadership qualities in an employee who cannot stand up to others – meaning there are lost opportunities for career advancement.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. find out what it means to me.

It’s a basic human need to be part of a group, but it’s also a strong need to be respected by peers. Being respected can create a sense of being needed and valued by others. At work, being respected also means being heard, validated, and looked up to as a skilled professional. While some think respect has to be earned, actually all employees are worthy of respect from their co-workers, bosses, and even customers. No one can be happy or productive when subjected to disrespect all the time at the office. This is why niceness has to go!

Are you too nice?

Maybe you are not sure if you are being overly nice while at work. There’s a good chance that simply by reading this article, either you or someone you know is used and abused by co-workers. 

It’s time to ask yourself: Is your need to be nice is truly serving your goals in your career, or making your life a living nightmare?

If you are too nice, you may find yourself continually taking on tasks of others and being afraid to say “no” for fear of rejection. You may feel underappreciated and that your manager never recognizes the work you do. You may even make personal and professional sacrifices just to make others happy. Being disrespected at work means no one values your opinion or even asks you what you think.

How to stop being so nice and gaining respect at work.

In order to regain the respect you need in your job, you don’t have to go to extremes. It’s a matter of transforming your attitude and your self-esteem. Here are some tips for being overly nice and getting back the respect you ought to have at work.

#1 – Respect Yourself First

If you want to get respect from others, you need to understand what it means to practice self-respect. Take the time to create more work-life balance that includes plenty of self-care and being nice to yourself. Stop the conflict between what you want to do and what you are stuck doing at work for others. Learn to speak affirming words over yourself.

#2 – Demonstrate Respect and Assertiveness to Others

People learn by example. This means you will have to teach them all over again what respecting you and others looks like. Start by demonstrating respect and assertiveness to your manager, your co-workers, and your customers without all the sugary talk and overtly nice behavior. Just be professional and direct.

#3 – Learn to Say “No” Sometimes

Being nice is often caught up with being a pushover when it comes to work tasks. Try this: next time a co-worker asks you to do one of their tasks, let them know that you have a lot on your plate already and when you get your own tasks completed and IF you have time, you can help. Otherwise, advise that there may be someone else who can get to it sooner.

#4 – Sometimes Less Becomes More

When it comes to dealing with difficult co-workers who try to walk all over you by demanding you do things for them or show you little to no respect, it’s time to cut them off. Never let anyone take advantage of your sunny personality by being rude, obnoxious, or aggressive. Simply, hear them out, and then in a professional manner let them know you no longer tolerate unprofessionalism around you and will only take on tasks that relate to your job as assigned by your immediate supervisor.

As you put these methods into practice, you can expect to feel a certain degree of guilt and worry for a little while. This is completely normal because you are learning new ways to handle things. There’s nothing wrong with being nice and being cordial towards your colleagues, but there should always be limits to this. Take the time to carefully weigh each and every situation you encounter at work and decide for yourself if being too nice is hurting your chances of career success.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you get the respect you so deserve at work, why or why not? Talk to us on Twitter and share your experiences!

Tess C. Taylor
Read more from Tess C.

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Nice Swan
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Nice Swan

I have this self-trouble in my 22 years of existence, I am trying to find out why I am such a people pleaser or why am I too nice to everyone. Maybe it was because of my childhood, on how I grew up. I do not want to elaborate anything anymore, so here we go; Now that I have graduated college, I am currently working in the hospitality industry. Since this is my first job, everything is new to me. The people, the environment, everything. I try to be nice to everyone thinking that I could build a good relationship… Read more »

Sally G
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Sally G

Good advice. I am starting a new job today and been thinking about addressing this because I know I have come across as weak in jobs, as I fear standing up for myself or try to avoid attention too much. Even when it’s valid to say something. My plan this time is to: 1) Stop saying ‘sorry’ when I did nothing wrong, to appease someone. Sometimes we/ I feel we/ I have to apologise for just being there, afraid I’m bothering people or in their way. Definitely because of my childhood, the need to please and be affirmed as I… Read more »

VantaBlack
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VantaBlack

Same here. I have the habit of saying “sorry” too much. Instead I’m trying to replace it with “I apologize for that” which still sounds respectful without sounding “wimpy” lol. I’m notorious for smiling too much. Maybe I’m a little paranoid of my neutral face being bitchy. But I’m learning that smiling isn’t so much a trait of a pushover if it’s done right. If I stand tall and straight with my chest out, head held a little high, speaking louder than usual, with a relaxed smile… all of this goes a long way. People immediately treat me with more… Read more »

The Dude From Hobby Lobby
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The Dude From Hobby Lobby

This is a great article. I needed to ‘hear’ what it has to say. The hard part for me is not becoming the awkward quiet guy who has trouble keeping eye contact, and occasionally reacts, or responds in ways that seem to offend the person(s) he is conversing with. Say hello for the first 2 or 3 times?? as you constantly pass the same people??? Being 26 without a college degree, working at Hobby Lobby, with a bunch of 18-22 year old kids is worse than it sounds. Nobody really knows what respect is anymore. 75% of all management/supervisor/full-time positions… Read more »

Monigue
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Monigue

This helps a great deal. I will be asserting this today.

jake
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jake

Thanks for the article and bringing things to my attention. Our society has changed so much that I should no longer be friends with any boss or coworkers. Change my ways, effective communication, stay productive and do my supervisors work without any appriciation or credit. Everyone has different diffenition of what respect, kindness, duties, personallity and what being nice is. Even my brother says I am not the joyful outgoing nice guy anymore because of my job.

Ela
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Ela

Thanks a lot!

Ritesh Sharma
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Ritesh Sharma

Yes you are right about this topic, Respect at work is an essential necessity. Yes, it is same for both men and women professionals.The fact is that we all want respect but when it comes to others, we try to evaluate them on various aspects,so kudos to you for bringing up this topic.Thank You.

m.a.t
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m.a.t

Just say and do what makes you happy

Nice guy from India
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Nice guy from India

Thanks for the enlightenment. I was so desperately looking for a solution.

Under-Educated-Over-Paid
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Under-Educated-Over-Paid

To “The Dude from Hobby Lobby”…Sir! (May I call you Sir? Because you certainly deserve it!), I couldn’t have said it better, my friend! It’s a VERY hard battle for us nice guys out there who do our best to respect everybody, apply good morals to our everyday lifes and treat people as we would like to be treated ourselves…BUT, in my view it has become more than obvious to stop being Mr. Nice-guy as you WILL be trampled upon…and people WILL disrespect you because of your gentleman attitude the whole time. I’ve learned in my 42 years on this… Read more »

Surgary coworker
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Surgary coworker

Thank you! Thank you! I think I need to let my niceness go. I will try to learn how to say no more often.

martin
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martin

Thank you!this is me really. from family to friends and also at work. God bless you. Am I been too nice again? lol.the worst feeling for me was drawing the boundaries which they find it difficult for a change.

Rita
Guest
Rita

Thank you very much reading this has made me feel less guilty because my colleague is angry that for the first time I’ve said no.

Sami
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Sami

THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS TIMELESS ARTICLE!! Respect can be a very subjective term, people can feel they are being disrespected when their ideas are not honored or their input is not heeded. This can happen even when a genuine effort has been made to include them and value their opinions. As managers, supervisors and/or leaders we must be humble and find ways to include people & ideas vs. excluding them while still making the best decisions possible. It seems like conforming is now seen as only being a negative or bad thing and the art or skill of humility… Read more »

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