Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace – Christine Porath
How you treat people means everything—whether they will trust you, build relationships with you, follow you, support you, and work hard for you or not.
Workplace relationship problems have significant costs for employers in the form of lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. Dealing with incivility takes an average of 13% of managers’ time as they work to mend relationships and deal with the aftermath of crass behavior.
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Rudeness causes recipients to be less likely to welcome feedback or initiate interactions. Their willingness to help others or share information drops significantly.
Civility Pays Off
Behaving politely toward others conveys respect and regard. It lifts people up. A smile, a cheerful greeting, and a compliment make people feel valued and appreciated. When a leader treats employees in a respectful way, the leader’s status increases along with the employees’ motivation. People work harder for warm, approachable bosses they respect and admire.
Your attitude, mindset, and willfulness can make all the difference.
A Catalyst In Success
Civility helps people succeed. People enjoy collaborating with someone who is cooperative and respectful. Seeking people’s input, listening to their ideas, thanking them for their efforts, and sharing credit with them increase productivity.
Team members feel safe in a civil environment, which frees them to take risks and offer suggestions. Civility spreads just as pervasively as incivility since people reciprocate each other’s behaviour
Five Forms of Giving
When people share knowledge, resources and connections, civility becomes the norm. Five forms of giving are most effective in creating an affirming atmosphere:
- Share resources – Collaborate with your co-workers to forge closer relationships.
- Share recognition – Give credit to everyone who contributes.
- Share gratitude – Thank people for their efforts, and reward positive behaviours.
- Share feedback
- Share purpose
- Never send an email while angry, stressed or upset.
- Never be overly informal or too verbose, don’t hit Reply All unnecessarily and don’t fail to respond to your email.
- Fundamentals of email etiquette include using self-control, writing in a respectful tone and valuing your correspondents’ time.
- Include a clear subject line.
- Be concise; use proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling; and copy only those who need a copy.
Lift Your Organization
- During interviews, pay attention to the way candidates behave.
- Ask them to describe their past behaviour and to give you examples.
- Discuss how they handle anger and stress.
- Observe how they speak about their former employers.
- Follow up with employees who interacted with your potential hire, such as receptionists or parking lot attendants.
- Research how candidates behaved in previous jobs.
Codes and Coaches
- Every employee should know that civility matters.
- Describe how they should treat one another.
- Publish a basic code of conduct.
- Emphasize civility repeatedly; notice when it occurs.
Scoring and Practice
If civil behaviour matters to your organization, put systems in place to track it.
Focus less on results and more on how people achieve them. Evaluate employees against metrics that highlight civilities, such as collaboration, empowerment, respect and encouragement. Recognize and reward “all-star helpers”—employees who go above and beyond their job descriptions to help their colleagues.
Be brief, informative, friendly and firm
If you’re the victim of incivility in the workplace, you can’t control the other person’s behaviour but you can manage your reaction.
Focus on the issue rather than the individual. Listen closely to his or her response. Your goal is to agree on norms going forward. If you feel the discussion is futile, follow the acronym BIFF(Brief, Informative, Friendly and Firm) in future interactions.
The Bottom Line
Your best defense against incivility is to develop your own “sense of thriving.”
The stronger you feel, the better you will handle adversity. Strengthen and reinforce your sense of thriving by finding purpose in your work and outside activities. Seek the support of a mentor, and build positive relationships in every area of your life.