Respect at Work

Training programs for mentally safe, fair and respectful workplace cultures



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We're all Wonder Women

Posted on 4 March, 2020 at 13:15

This Sunday (8 March) is International Women's Day (IWD), what a great reminder to celebrate us as women and applaud all our successes and achievements. Today I was privileged to speak at a lunch of amazing business women, so for this blog I am sharing some of that speech.


The theme for IWD 2020 is #Each for Equal, so quoting straight from the IWD website:


'An equal world is an enabled world.
Individually, we're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions - all day, every day.
We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women's achievements.
Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world.
Let's all be #EachforEqual.'


 I love this picture of the first IWD march in New York in 1911, I made the decision to not speak about the timeline of IWD and all of the past milestones today but please do your own historical research because our journey is full of brave set-backs and victories.


Today I spoke about bias and of our role to challenge bias and stereotypes in our workplaces and in society.

Many years ago, I started an apprenticeship as the only female in a workplace. I was 19 y/o and feeling great, being the only female didn’t concern me, I hadn’t even really thought about it… until… the day that I found the betting book that contained the odds for every one of the 20 male staff as to who would sleep with me and when. I was also told (often) by management that I would never be as good as the boys.

I never spoke up, not once – I fought a silent fight, worked hard and won best first year apprentice – but still I was never truly equal. In fact, I was told that I had only managed good marks because females find study easier – still I said nothing.

I think of stories of other women. A friend of mine (also the sole female in her team) fought for her acceptance by baking and cleaning. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with this and I applaud muffins and cakes made by someone else but looking through a gender bias lens I couldn’t help but cringe whenever she talked about it.

So please, take a second to think about any gender stereotypes at your workplace.

Who takes the tea-towels home to wash?

Are there mugs like these proudly displayed? Do you take pride in being known as the ‘bitch’, ‘gossip’, ‘drama queen’, is it a badge of honour?

What are your conversations like?

We are all capable of falling into bias traps, our minds take shortcuts to where stereotypes are the default. But do you challenge stereotypes and call out gender bias? If you hear a female colleague referred to as a bitch do you ask would a male be referred to in the same way?

At some point in my journey I realised that to do and say nothing I was in fact condoning the bias, and as a teacher, a daughter, a mother I have a responsibility to strive for the equal, non-biased future I believe in.

Being aware of bias, however, is not enough, we need to recognise, stop and challenge stereotypical beliefs and actions. So, congratulations to everyone who actively practices being a great ally, building each other up and encouraging respectful collaboration and support.

Equality for women in the workplace has come a long way but I think we can and should always challenge ourselves to do more.

When we look at the past we might think ‘what were they thinking’; my mum surprised me a while back, there was something on the tv about the #me too movement and mum suddenly said ‘oh, why are they all making such a fuss now’, ‘this was years ago, what does it matter?’. I nearly fell off the chair, I guess I had just assumed that my mum, who was part of a generation that had to leave work once she was married and had few rights, would get it. But when we talked, I think she was somehow blind to the issue and impact of sexual harassment. So, I wonder what might we be blind to today? What are the things that we accept that future generations will be shocked at?

Yes, we’ve come a long way and that is cause for celebration, but as women, let’s be advocates for ourselves and our female co-workers, not just for IWD but every day. And as people of all genders let’s challenge ourselves to be better allies, let’s practice building each other up and encouraging respectful, collaboration and support.

Because we’re all responsible for our workplace culture and we all have a part to play in the fight for a better more inclusive society.

Practicing what I preach

Posted on 6 February, 2020 at 23:35

 Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

I sometimes forget to respect myself. I forget to celebrate achievements; I wallow in frustrations and bring myself down.  Rather than celebrate the great contract I've just received or the project I'm working on, I obsess about the phone call I'm waiting for.

Rather than feeling awesome after the long walk I went on before work and the healthy eating I've been doing all week, I beat myself up for the jar of peanut butter I've snacked on ALL afternoon.

I also don't always respect my family, to respect someone is to value them and to not judge and some days I'm just not great at this. I make sarcastic comments, I groan and talk about them behind their back.

To respect someone is to listen to them and accept their individuality, I don't always listen and at times I have disrespected workmates and taken friends for granted.

Wow, I can be disrespectful!

I wish that respect was something once gained and never lost.

I wish that respect (both self-respect and for others) was always easy no matter what mood we might be in.


Respect is not difficult or unattainable, no-one is incapable of giving and receiving respect. We are human and sometimes we need reminders for the little things, showing respect is easy but in our haste to get things done we occasionally put the easy things aside. Respect and kindness are so easy to demonstrate but sometimes they require a little conscious effort.  Just as important as the need to praise ourselves when we achieve great results or do something well, is the need to notice when we could have chosen our words or our tone better.

When I give respect, I am happy, when I receive respect, I am happy and confident and when I am in a respectful environment I thrive.

Respect at Work training looks at your workplace, unpacks respect and provides simple reminders to your staff.

Please get in touch if your workplace could benefit from some more respect and kindness



Posted on 13 January, 2020 at 20:00

Last November I completed DISC ADVANCED accreditation training and am now a DISC ADVANCED Accredited Consultant - Yay for me :)

Prior to the training I had just enough DISC knowledge to have my fingers crossed that it would be a useful tool and something I would be comfortable to believe in and confidently use going forward.  Happily DISC delivered everything I hoped for and I am excited to start using it.

DISC ADVANCED was specifically designed for the workplace and is described as 'The World’s Most Advanced Behavioural Assessment System',  widely used by Australian Business and all levels of Government.  A personal bonus for me is that the original 4 Quadrant DISC model was created (in the 1920's) by William Marston who was (amongst other things) the creator of Wonder Woman - you've got to love the lasso of truth! 

The 4 quadrants are D = dominance, I = influence, S = steadiness and C = compliance, no one quadrant is any 'better' than the others and individual assessments come back with results that are combinations of the quadrant styles.  DISC assessments measure both the subconscious “real self” and the conscious behavioural style, these 2 profiles(real and adjusted) provide enormous self-awareness and potential for self-development for individuals. What I also love about this tool is the further option to look at pair or team assessments, thus providing insights, strengths, challenges and communication strategies.

As an accredited consultant my job is to make sure the results are interpreted correctly and to debrief participants on how they can/should use the results.  DISC ADVANCED assessments fit so well to the aim of Respect at Work — to create and maintain safe, fair and peaceful workplace cultures.  Please get in touch if you would like to add DISC ADVANCED assessments to your team Respect at Work training or one on one coaching.

Season respect

Posted on 22 December, 2019 at 21:00

Here we are again, the end of another year and this time we have the bonus optimism of a new decade. 
For many people this is the time for family, friends and celebrations, for others this time represents something very different and for those people I wish compassion and tolerance and send my respect.

As with everything human, this time of the year is full of contradictions; the stress and pressure of creating 'perfect' happy family memories causes impatience, rudeness and lack of respect to service staff and others marching to the same pressures — that doesn't really make much sense.   I was talking to a staff member at my local supermarket and asked her if people are nicer at this time of year, she dramatically rolled her eyes and proceeded to tell me horror stories of impatient shoppers blaming her for any (and every) delay. What is wrong with us that we can treat others in ways that we would never accept for ourselves or for our loved ones?

People appreciate a smile and a few words, no judgement necessary.  Respect translates across cultures, generations and all differences; after all, it takes more energy to judge and disrespect than it does to accept and smile. :)

I wish everyone a safe and happy end of year and all the very best for 2020 - I'm feeling excited - it's going to be a good year 8)

Words - Open to interpretation?

Posted on 1 December, 2019 at 23:40

Image by Gabrielle_RRI from Pixabay

The things people get caught up on never cease to amaze me. Words often become an issue when they are attached to the concept of 'political correctness'; that concept itself is then verbalised with invisible air inverted commas " ". The term political correctness defined by Wikipedia is 'used to describe a preference for inclusive language and avoiding language or behaviour that can be seen as excluding, marginalizing, or insulting groups of people considered disadvantaged or discriminated against, especially groups defined by sex or race.' — If this is political correctness, it sounds like a lovely respectful idea to me.

Only a few days ago I was asked 'why does it matter if I say that something is retarded or gay?', After an internal sigh I launched into the 'it matters to anyone who may identify with those attributes if those names are used in a negative way' explanation. Next came the 'if I don't mean it, why should I care if someone is offended?' question - followed by 'words have power', and 'impact not intent' discussions. It is easy to feel judgement to those that think differently to us, for me that may be to judge the racist, homophobic or sexist words or comments of an individual, thinking of them as ignorant or rude.  But if we don't provide safe spaces for questions and calm conversations are we not stifling opportunities to break down ignorance?  If knowledge is power surely we have an obligation to share it safely and respectfully.

Respect is such a great word; as demonstrated by the number of workplaces with respect as one of their values. It feels like it should be simple to define until people try to explain it. My favourite explanations of respect include; valuing other people, not judging, and kindness to others. Interestingly I have also had conversations with those that don't believe kindness has a place when business decisions need to be made, I personally don't agree but I can see where their perception is coming from. Other words that seem to cause refection at times are; clique, assertiveness and bullying.

Political correctness, respect, kindness, clique, assertiveness, bullying; these are all words that we may interpret depending on our personal histories. What is important is that we keep having conversations. Safe conversations allow us to listen and from active listening comes the human ability to learn (possibly apologise), adapt and move on respectfully.


Stress and Burn-out

Posted on 27 October, 2019 at 17:00

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

Burn-out seems to be a current HR topic and this year the World Health Organisation declared workplace burnout to be an occupational phenomenon. WHO defines workplace burnout as “Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed."

We're just coming out of Work Safe Month where the theme this year has been Safe Bodies, Safe Minds, I attended a few events and the turn out was fantastic. It seems that more organisations are realising that as important as R U OK? Day, Mental Health Week and Stress Down Day are, it's simply not enough to just have one-off events. Mental wellness needs to be part of the organisations DNA.

So how does that happen? How do you move from awareness days to a genuine accepting and inclusive culture where everyone can safely speak up? Unfortunately I guess that for some industries this is easier than others, it shouldn't be but I think it probably is, but that just means that those industries have to try harder to live and breathe safe listening cultures.

I watched an extremely confronting and yet necessary film yesterday — this film has been made for police and I supported my chronic PTSD diagnosed wife through 40 minutes of very hard viewing. The emotions I felt though this film were extreme and this led to much contemplation over the last 24 hours. My contemplation wasn't just about emergency service workers; dangerous situations and emotional demands are part of many industries. For the person living with the stressors, the seriousness of the pressure to meet demands is not measured by one industry against another. The workplace stressors for the Police Officer, the aged care worker, or, the apprentice electrician might differ but all are potentially dangerous for that individual.

In those industries where time off more than likely equals staff shortages and those staff shortages equal potentially dangerous situations, how much extra pressure does that apply? When just the 'normal' pressures of a job involve human trauma and tragedy (but it's 'just' part of the job), and those pressures start to seep into your subconscious how do accept/admit you are struggling? How do you recognise when you are affected in an industry where you have to be strong and in control? How do you speak up and ask for help knowing that your colleagues have the same experiences? How do you have a voice when those in power condemn you for being weak? How do you not make mistakes? How does that stress not impact every other area of your life?

I guess this film and others like it are a start, but we all HAVE to keep the conversations and the awareness happening. By creating awareness of the mental health risks in any industry, by creating safe and supportive environments where individuals can speak up and get assistance before they need time off, we will create change.

Many individuals still think that speaking up equates to 'being weak' or 'not being good enough', but this isn’t the case at all. Our working world is fast-paced, stressful and often under resourced — it's easy to feel over-whelmed. The first important step (after being brave enough to recognise how you are feeling) is to be open and start having a real conversation with someone you trust. A safe, respectful, accepting and inclusive work culture will provide opportunities for trusted conversation options but this doesn't just happen, this takes work and is a whole workplace commitment.

A safe, respectful, accepting and inclusive work culture can help to create a healthy set of boundaries and strategies for you at work. If you don't know how to create a safe, respectful, accepting and inclusive culture where everyone can safely speak up then ask for help. Respect at Work can talk to you about your workplace situation and help find the strategies you need.


World Mental Health Day

Posted on 10 October, 2019 at 3:40

Today is World Mental Health Day and I've made my mental health promise to Help reduce stigma around mental illness to make way for more people to seek help https/

Mental Health is no longer a secret to be kept from the workplace but we still have work to do to make it more visible and to ensure people are safe to disclose if they wish to. Make your own promise here https/ and be part of a world-wide movement to improve mental wellbeing in our community. #MentalHealthPromise.

About one in five Australians will experience difficulties with their mental health at some stage of their lives, and if I think of my circle of friends and family there are very few not touched in some way by troubling anxiety, depression, PTSD and other conditions.  These conditions can affect how a person feels, thinks, behaves, and interacts with other people on occasions.  Workplaces, work processes 'the way we do things here', and colleagues can significantly affect a person’s capacity to continue (and thrive) in employment.  Mental health and wellbeing awareness takes away stigma, breaks down barriers and equips us with the tools to understand and have better conversations.  It is good to see many workplaces embracing this awareness but we can all do better.  Every person you meet is dealing with their own daily journey and for some that journey is easier than others.  If today your journey is an easy one, reach out, open your eyes, start a conversation, be present — make a difference.

This infographic from SafeWork Australia gives a great overview of the mental health status in Australia, print it out, email it around the office, start discussions.  https/ 

Pass it on

Posted on 24 September, 2019 at 1:05

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

Incivility is contagious but so is respect

To quote a recent Gartner Survey (June 2019), 'the data reveals that the number one reason employees cite for leaving their job is respect, or lack of it. Respect rose seven places in 1Q19 to become the leading driver of attrition among Australian workers.'

Employees who feel respected in the workplace are happier, more present and more engaged.
Employees who feel disrespected in the workplace are more likely to be resentful, disengaged and looking to take their talents elsewhere.

Training participants often tell me that they demonstrate respect to all clients, regardless of their personal feelings towards that person.  They say that they would never disrespect a client - this is to be expected.  Customer service is important, and I know that personally a friendly and positive (respectful) exchange from a service provider can leave me smiling. Scientists tell us that smiling can help release our 'happy chemicals' (dopamine and serotonin), or, as my Mum always said; 'a smile tricks your brain into feeling happy’, seeing people happy certainly makes me feel brighter.

So, knowing that smiles are contagious can respect also be? Let's look at the opposite; think of a disagreement that spirals out of control, one person raises their voice, doesn't listen and uses unpleasant words (hmm = disrespects), before you know it the other person is acting the same way. Or, we've all been in situations where our happy vibe is affected by a room full of negativity and misery — so, disrespect CAN be contagious.

Imagine a situation (workplace) where colleagues treat each other well; they pay attention, listen, don't gossip, value opinions and individuality and don't judge - imagine a new person coming into this environment - an environment where they are welcome and supported to be their best selves. In this situation respect becomes the norm, the benchmark for colleagues to measure up to. New employees 'catch' the respectful behaviours thus continuing the respectful environment.

We're all responsible for our workplace behaviour, let's actively engage in and encourage the culture we want to be part of.


'Silence is golden, but sometimes it's just plain yella'

Posted on 2 September, 2019 at 20:50

Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay

A good friend once quoted her Mum to me "Silence is golden, but sometimes it's just plain yella", I loved the quote so much that it lives permanently on my office whiteboard.

Is what looks like an amiable culture really just a culture of suffering in silence for some workplaces? Am I a coward if I don't speak up, am I an aggressor if I do? Everyone in a workplace needs to feel safe to raise an issue, confident that it will be received well and/or handled appropriately without needing to shout about it or feel that they are out of line. It is wired in us…people won’t be honest and speak up about what is important to them unless they feel safe to do so.

I started my working life with a ten-year career in hospitality and for us communication training was a constant. Back then (and it is a while ago), the industry knew that communication was the key to good service both for internal and external customers. So, what's changed? Communication skills training is rarely seen within a suite of compliance training — yet, open and easy communication is the foundation to comfortable workplace cultures.

We all have our own style of communication (and our own communication strengths and weaknesses), when not facilitating I am an observer, I like to sit quietly and take in the room. I appreciate opportunities to keep my silence before I speak as I believe that everyone has opinions and most have merit, I like to hear and consider the perspectives of others. My communication style does not suit every situation, if I just observe without speaking does my silence become 'yella'? There is nothing wrong with silence unless by my silence I am turning my back on important issues or breaching my duty of care to my workmates.

So how do I tell the difference between golden silence and cowardice? I take note of how I feel, there is a big difference between the desire of wanting to speak but not feeling able to and quiet contemplation. When I am ready to use my voice do I know it will be heard. Am I choosing my silence over someone else’s safety? Could my words unintentionally cause harm — sometimes, for me, the gold is simply taking an extra moment to choose my words before I open my mouth.

What is the culture like in your workplace? Is everyone safe and supported to speak up? Does your organisation encourage perspectives and opinions, or do they squash voices and innovation by not allowing participation? If your peers do not speak up are they cowards, or are they simply doing their best to keep themselves safe.

You can't fix a culture of bad communication by simply posting a memo saying; 'our door is always open, please speak up' or by introducing a new communication policy — there is no instant quick fix. Improving the communication (or any cultural issues) takes time and effort, the memo and policy are a good start but are meer tokens if you don't walk the talk. Walk around your workplace, what do you notice? Be an active consumer of your environment, is there a comfortable vibe? If there is silence is it comfortable, awkward or bubbling with resentment? do people go out of their way to engage with others. Is everyone encouraged to have their say and when people talk do others listen respectfully without judgement. If you’re not happy with the culture you see, don’t put your head in the sand or ‘wait for the right time’.

You may be just one of many in a workplace, but your workplace culture is your responsibility just as much as everyone else. Your input, your voice and your ears are powerful tools that contribute to the culture that you want, and are willing to accept. The time to stand up, take responsibility and make changes is right now.

Do you have a mentor?

Posted on 14 August, 2019 at 19:25

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay 

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to hear a brilliant speaker who within her presentation spoke about the amazing value of having sponsors and mentors. She really made me think about who I have in my corner, who inspires and pushes me and supports me to be the best I can be.

I often speak to groups of managers about the importance of peer support and mentoring as I don't think this is something that is done well in many Tasmanian workplaces. But if I'm being honest, I have to say that I don't do it well either. I do have a couple of informal mentors — not that they know, because I've never said or asked. I'm now thinking about the unique challenges of being the sole trainer in my own small business, business is great but I could really do with a sounding board and some tough love at times. So why don't I ask a valued colleague to be my mentor? is it because it makes me vulnerable? or, do I think they will refuse for fear of competition? probably a little of both.

Respect at Work is unique, and my training style is my own so what is holding me back I wonder. Self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy are such enemies to productivity, but I am as human as everyone else and these emotions occasionally creep in. Asking someone to be my mentor is surely a sign of flattery and likely would be a win-win situation for us both.

Thinking back 30 years to my first supervisory role, it was an exciting but terrifying time. Going from thinking only about yourself to being responsible for others is a big shift. A great interview and attendance at the right number of courses doesn't make a good manager, a good manager relies on more than technical skill. And, like learning to drive, practical exercises don't compare to the daily navigational challenges of the job. My supervisory journey was like a traineeship or an apprenticeship in successful people management because I had a couple of awesome coaches. We didn't speak of mentors back then but that's similar to what they were, they were supportive but brutally honest and I (and my staff) benefitted greatly from my relationship with these coaches. One person in particular shaped my journey and all these years later I can gratefully attribute some of my success to their mentorship.

You might already be surrounded by valuable sources of knowledge and support that you can tap into, either as a formal mentorship arrangement or just a one-off chat.  For that people management situation you aren't sure how to approach, or that conflict that is difficult to manage; it's quite probable that you have access to someone who has wisdom and experience from navigating those challenges before. We all have to start somewhere and learning is a continual journey, don't let your fear of vulnerability stop you from finding your best way forward.

That person that encourages your growth and development, that embraces their role and that you watch and learn from — they might be your mentor — ask if you can meet formally and if they will help you to be your best version of yourself.

I'm off to find my future mentor.