Respect & Concern for Others
These things really do happen in the workplace.
- An offensive picture or cartoon is posted in the breakroom. Someone takes it down. It reappears. “It was just a joke!”
- Coworkers argue – loudly – about their views on a topic they both care about. Shouting follows. Someone throws something. “What’s wrong with you?!”
- A manager humiliates a subordinate in front of other team members. There’s crying, some name-calling. The manager demands the subordinate just “deal with it.”
- You’re innocently pulled into a huddle and before you know it, you’re gossiping about a coworker. Maybe it’s someone who is odd. Or new. Or universally disliked. “They just don’t fit here.”
If you’ve ever experienced or witnessed situations like this, they stick with you. They’re more than awkward. They can make you feel embarrassed, bullied, helpless, afraid, or angry.
Worst, they may cause you to question whether you want to continue working for that company or in that environment. Who needs it?!
Civility is Good Business
Each of these situations shows a lack of concern for others. They are disrespectful. They are emblematic of a lack of civility in the workplace.
These micro-aggressions are more than bad behavior. These are not things that happen when people are “having a bad day.”
In a workplace with an ongoing lack of concern for others, aggression can escalate. It’s a type of violence. When people don’t believe they are treated well or that their opinions are honored, morale can fall. Turnover occurs. Productivity drops. Costs increase.
Lack of civility hurts business.
Creating A Culture of Civility
Workplaces that build and maintain a culture of civility are less likely to experience the fallout from these micro-aggressions.
There is healthy conflict. People feel free to state their opinions or to disagree with others. There is mutual respect among leaders and owners, managers and staff.
A culture of civility isn’t an accident. It’s not addressed with a policy or an email proclamation. It’s something to nurture, an attitude that’s fostered among all employees and across all teams. It looks like this.
- There is zero tolerance for incivility.
- Leaders and managers hold others accountable for civil behavior at work.
- Leaders and managers model the behavior they expect from others. They set the tone and lead by example.
- Positive conflict and constructive disagreements are reinforced and rewarded, often and publicly.
- Ongoing training is available on topics like communication, diversity and inclusion, and conflict resolution.
Building a Respectful Workplace
A culture of civility is everyone’s job. Here are 5 things everyone can do to help build a respectful, civil workplace.
- Assume that everyone is doing their best, that nobody is actively working to be uncivil. Assume the best, not the worst, in others.
- Think twice before you speak (or email or text) once. In other words, take a deep breath before reacting.
- Set an intention for yourself to not gossip or stereotype. These habits are difficult, but not impossible, to change.
- Use 1:1 and email communications appropriately. Difficult conversations are always best handled personally.
- Think about extending or accepting social media connections with coworkers. Sometimes it’s best to separate your personal life from your work life. Your passions and opinions may not gel with everyone you work with.