Civility in the Workplace

To be civil is to be polite and to show respect to others.

To be uncivil is to be rude and to show disrespect to others.

According to the Harvard Business Review, the frequency of incivility in the workplace is increasing. The result is that people don’t like to do business with those who are uncivil and they don’t like to work at a company where incivility occurs.

It’s logical that civility is a good thing for organizations. Where there is an atmosphere of politeness and respect, people are more innovative, discussions are better and commitment to the organization rises.

Obviously, the opposite is also true. Where people are rude to each other, commitment wanes. People are less likely to do the extra things that give a business an edge.

In fact, incivility grows legs. Research indicates that if you are rude to somebody, 94% of the time the person who was offended will find a way to make you pay. It may not be today, but eventually. Customers who observe rudeness among service providers will move to another enterprise to avoid incivility in the future.

In short, virtually everyone says that “life is too short” to deal with “rudeness.”

So, why are rude people rude? Usually, it’s because that is the way they have been treated.

So, what is one to do?

One, model civility. Don’t deal with issues when emotions are hot. If you are a leader, determine that you won’t provide any fuel for further incivility because of incivility that you initiated.

Be a conscious practitioner of civility. A hospital implemented the 10/5 rule: Hospital personnel were taught that when they came within 10 feet of someone that they should acknowledge that person with a nod and a smile. If you came within five feet a verbal greeting was in order.

Following six months of these ground rules, the real measures of patient care and customer satisfaction increased.

Civility is a free commodity. It takes mindfulness. It takes commitment. It takes effort. There are really no bad outcomes.



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