Respect in the workplace, or the lack of it, is a major issue for human resource officers (HROs). The bottom line for most of these issues is that personnel often fail to remember that respect is a two-way street. People demand it from others, but fail to give it at the same time. It is not just about doing our best to not offend anyone, which seems to be the individual's main concern, but about giving the same level of respect to everyone that we demand for ourselves.
Treating the people around us with respect is not an inborn trait. It is learned. So even if we aren't taught respect at a young age, we can learn it at any time. Most disrespectful people do not realize they are being that way, or they just don't care, which makes it difficult to address.
It must be addressed, however. Disrespect, when left to work itself out, can lead to anger and workplace aggression. It should be handled with care, and every effort should be made to prevent termination or resignation.
It is the human resource officer's responsibility to handle these types of situations, and if the HRO can understand the bottom line of an argument, which is usually based on one person not respecting another, they are presented with an opportunity to educate both parties.
Being treated with integrity at our place of employment is of major importance to employees. Understanding and accepting that every person and the job they do is equally important will go a long way toward resolving these issues. They should be handled delicately, however.
An HRO should have a basic understanding of what respect means: treating everyone the way we demand they treat us. If we demand that they not waste our time, we do not waste theirs. If we demand that they talk to us in a respectful tone at all times, then we speak to them in that tone. This is respect. When this is not how we treat people, tension arises. To prevent the tension, behavior that is not mutually respectful should be addressed immediately.
Being considerate of others is another, sometimes overwhelming, issue that HRO's are faced with. The way it has been handled in the past is to force one party to stop doing whatever is bothering the other party. This usually does not resolve the issue, and can create further issues and escalate the tension between the two parties.
The bottom line in this problem is also disrespect. Considering, and being respectful of, the people around us does not mean that we go out of our way to not do things that might bother some, but that we think about how we would want to be treated if something bothered us in this manner, and act accordingly. The HRO should assist each party in figuring out how they can handle the situation differently so that it is acceptable to both.
This will not only help prevent escalations, but also eliminate the tattle-tale syndrome that arises when employees have a hard time dealing with each other, and one or both begin complaining constantly about the other.