A respectful workplace doesn’t have to be something out of a fairy tale.

A place where friendly faces greet you in the morning and ask how you’re doing (with a genuine interest in your life), can be more than just a dream.

And within this ideal workplace, you can even have a supervisor or boss that is supportive, positive, and mentoring. Maybe this leader even shows you utmost respect instead of demanding it.

Imagine this glowing workplace where bullying and harassment isn’t a constant worry and violence isn’t feared. Behaviour and language is always appropriate and courteous and even modelled by those wonderful supervisors mentioned earlier.

If you’re thinking about your current workplace and rolling your eyes saying: yeah right, this kind of environment doesn’t really exist…think again!

There is such thing as a respectful workplace and I promise it’s not just another unicorn to chase after.

In fact, it can even be your current place of work that is causing you to roll your eyes at the moment.

But you’re probably wondering, what can I do to eradicate bullying and harassment and have courtesy and respect instead? How can this situation get better?

Well, I have good news and I have bad news…

In all of our training workshops which revolve around bullying and harassment and respectful conduct, we always stress the fact that the ONLY person whom you have 100 percent control over, is yourself.

That may be the bad news.

But the good news, is that by being that person who is polite, courteous, and genuinely interested in others around you, you’ll begin to have an impact— little by little, one person at a time.

Perhaps you witness bullying or harassment and decide to counter it by doing the opposite, or even informing a supervisor or HR Rep.

Or maybe people will start to recognize in themselves when they are getting close to that line in the world of inappropriate behaviour and begin to at least try to catch themselves. Maybe before, they wouldn’t have even thought that there was a line.

Of course, this is something that will take the help of others and I sincerely hope that your leaders have this same desire to create a workplace culture of positive behavior and respect.

The hummingbird analogy tends to come to mind when I think about this issue. Perhaps you’ve heard it before, but if not, let me set the scene:

A forest fire is blazing, seemingly out of control and consuming everything in its path.

All of the forest animals begin racing for their lives, running through the undergrowth until they emerge from the cover of the trees into the safety of the meadow.

There they see a hummingbird hovering at the edge of the forest, squirting tiny amounts of water from its beak into the raging flames.

“What are you doing?” the animals ask the hummingbird.

“I’m trying to put the fire out,” the hummingbird replies, as it flies back to refill its beak from a nearby stream.

“You’ll never put it out!” the forest animals yell.

“I have to try,” insists the hummingbird, “but it sure would be easier if I had help.”

The forest animals think for a while.

Then they look at each other, realizing that the hummingbird is right—their home is under threat, and walking away is not the answer; they each have a responsibility.

One by one, they start making their way to the stream to fill their mouths with water…

And now I ask you, is there a fire of disrespect, bullying, or harassment burning in your workplace?

Maybe there are just embers glowing, or a few flickers here and there (we all know the saying: when there’s smoke, there’s fire).

So be the hummingbird and try to put out the flames (or smoke!).

You may be surprised to see how many others begin to follow suit…

sonar leadership 2018