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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.
Rudeness is on the rise. In the “Civility in America 2016” survey, 95% of respondents said “incivility” is a major problem in the United States. Workplace incivility takes many forms: making calls or texting during meetings, yelling at employees, belittling or heckling subordinates, taking credit for someone else’s work or ideas, and undermining other people’s efforts. Often, people are uncivil when they’re tired or stressed.
To make the greatest impact in your business and to get the most out of your career, choose the path of respectfulness over rudeness.
Globalization brings people from different cultures into contact with one another. What is seen as acceptable in one culture may be perceived as rude in another. Remote work and other arrangements put pressure on office relationships. Increased workloads cause stress and make people feel overwhelmed, causing them to lash out. Some employees mimic their leaders’ and co-workers’ behavior.
The typical reaction to incivility is stress, which can trigger health problems and can result in more instances of abrupt or rude behavior. Rudeness also extracts a psychological toll. When someone treats people meanly at work, they lose concentration and their performance suffers.
They become less creative, have more difficulty making decisions, and have trouble processing or recalling information.
People misread texts and emails, because the written notes lack the nuance of face-to-face and phone interactions.
Often, people are uncivil when they’re tired or stressed. Generally, they’re not aware of how their actions affect others. Yet, unintentional rudeness is also destructive. When someone feels hurt, it doesn’t matter if the precipitating behavior wasn’t deliberate.
People don’t easily recover from the negative effect of rudeness.
Even low-intensity events or single incidents can diminish their focus and cognitive abilities.
On the flip side, feeling genuinely appreciated lifts people up. It energizes. It’s also a powerful tool for encouraging the right behaviors.
Workplace relationship problems have significant costs for employers in the form of lost productivity, absenteeism and turnover. Dealing with incivility takes an average 13% of managers’ time as they work to mend relationships and deal with the aftermath of crass behavior.
Rudeness causes recipients to be less likely to welcome feedback or initiate interactions. Their willingness to help others or share information drops significantly. Experiencing rudeness can trigger negative or aggressive thoughts, although victims may not understand the association.
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 leaders’ status increases along with the employees’ motivation. People work harder for warm, approachable bosses they respect and admire.
You have more control than you think. Your attitude, mind-set and willfulness can make all the difference.
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 increases 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 behavior
How civil are you?
Examine yourself about a range of behaviors, from positive, such as saying please and thank you, to negative, such as texting or using email during meetings, interrupting, blaming others, spreading rumors, ignoring invitations, making snide remarks, or failing to listen.
Use these seven strategies to lobby for feedback from others:
Begin the journey to improved civility for yourself and your organization by focusing on the three basics.
Adopt a “giving mind-set” to promote a respectful work environment. When people share knowledge, resources and connections, civility becomes the norm. Five forms of giving are most effective in creating an affirming atmosphere:
If civil behavior 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 civility, such as collaboration, empowerment, respect and encouragement. Acknowledge and reward “all-star helpers” – employees who go above and beyond their job descriptions to help their colleagues.
If you’re the victim of incivility in the workplace, you can’t control the other person’s behavior but you can manage your reaction. Take time to figure out a response plan calmly. If you decide to confront the offender, plan the conversation ahead of time. 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 discussion is futile, follow the acronym BIFF(Brief, Informative, Friendly and Firm) in future interactions.
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.
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