The Number One Way to Show Respect at Work

by | Jan 17, 2017

cloI didn’t see it coming. The executives were gathered for our work on communication skills for the sake of enhancing productivity. (Poor communication skills are a leading cause of productivity loss.)  Based on their input, we had flip charts around the room each with one word like Trust, Respect, Listening, Collaboration.  Their job was to write a short phrase describing what that behavior looks like. For example, if someone is listening, what observable behavior are they doing? Next, everyone voted on the behaviors they would most like to see in their workplace.  The number one answer? Respect.  And what did respect look like? Starting and ending a meeting on time. This one item was by far the highest vote-getter.

Do you have meetings that run long? Are your meetings sometimes sidetracked by tangent discussions? Do key people arrive late so that you must rehash information you’ve already covered? Let’s face it, we’ve all had frustrating meetings at one time or the other but we don’t usually think of it as disrespectful.

Because of this result, we created a meeting checklist to remind these busy executives of what they needed to do. Here it is for you.


  • Identify the objective and outcome or decision of the meeting. (By the end of this meeting we will ….)
  • Identify what will not be discussed in this meeting. (This preemptively guards against diversions and helps maintain focus.)
  • Set timeframes for discussion.


  • Start on time no matter what.
  • State the objective and outcome of the meeting including topics that are off-the-table.
  • Review the agenda including timeframes for discussion and decision.
  • Define the decision-maker at the start of the meeting.
  • Briefly summarize the current state.
  • Maintain focus by strictly adhering to the stated objective.
  • Take extraneous discussions offline to a parking lot.
  • End on time no matter what.


  • State conclusions.
  • Identify action.
  • Assign responsibility for each action item with its deadline.
  • Assess meeting

Everyone has busy days with responsibilities to accomplish.  When your meeting runs long overdue, it is perceived as disrespectful because, well, it is. It’s easy to get caught up in the discussion, lose track of the topic, not achieve the desired outcome, and attempt to compensate by extending the meeting time. Don’t fall victim to this pervasive habit. Hold to the meeting start and end times and people will want to be part of your team because you treat them with respect.

1 Comment

  1. Susan

    What about meetings that are cancelled a few minutes before the meeting is supposed to start? That is so disrespectful.


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Author Byline: Founder and CEO of Blue Fjord Leaders, Shelley Row P.E. CSP, was named by Inc. Magazine as one of the top 100 leadership speakers. Professional engineer and former senior executive, she was recognized as one of the best minds in advanced traffic management systems.

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