Here's the deal: Respect is something you have to earn. And it's all about the behavior you exhibit — be it at work or in your personal life.

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How can employees earn respect at work?

Someone I was coaching told me one of her development goals was to “earn the respect of more people at work.” I asked her to tell me more about what she meant.

She said, “I just don’t feel like people respect me, so I want to earn more respect.” When I asked her what behaviors she thought she needed to exhibit to do so, there was a long pause and she gave me a blank stare.

You’d be surprised how many times I get the same response. Here’s the deal: Respect is something you have to earn. And it’s all about the behavior you exhibit — be it at work or in your personal life.

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Here are my suggestions for earning respect:

Look around. Think about the people you respect the most. Why do you respect them? Is it because of their expertise in a certain subject? The calm way they handle themselves in meetings? The way they work with others?

Observe behaviors. When you analyze the behavior of the people you most admire, what do you see? Try to notice specific ways they conduct themselves on a daily basis. Look at how they treat others and how they communicate. Observe how they respond to questions and challenges.

Identify your gaps. After you’ve observed the people you most admire, think about gaps in your behavior and those you’ve observed. For example, instead of responding with clarification questions, do you tend to pounce on co-workers when they make negative comments in your direction? Are you generally so frazzled you tell people what to do to overcome issues instead of taking the time to ask questions that will help them figure out solutions themselves?

Practice your new behaviors. They may include listening to understand, not to reply; treating others with dignity and courtesy; keeping all of your commitments, and never making one you can’t keep; and realizing that most people want to do what’s right.

Practice compassion. The Dalai Lama once said, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” Practicing compassion takes the ability to be patient, be generous with your time and sincerely care about others.

Lisa Quast is the founder of Career Woman, Inc., and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at lquast@careerwomaninc.com.