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You can’t sit with us! Creating more civility at work

October 1, 2022 | Rachael Bosch

Rachael Bosch is the CEO and founder at Fringe PD, where their mission is to help people communicate better and create more human workplaces.

It’s no secret that the workplace can be a breeding ground for stress and conflict. From office politics to personality clashes, it’s easy for workplace communications to go downhill fast. This can lead to decreased productivity, missed deadlines, and even worse. But what if there was another way? What if we could all learn to communicate more civilly with one another? Studies have shown that when workplace communications are respectful and civil, businesses see improved productivity, creativity, and morale.

 

What counts as incivility?

Incivility can be hard to define, but, like a Supreme Court Justice once said about porn, we know it when we see it. Incivility is rudeness, disrespect, and a general lack of caring for others. It’s the kind of behavior that makes you grit your teeth and boggles your mind. Incivility might be something as small as someone dropping you from an email chain, or it could be something much bigger, like having a boss or colleague scream at you from down the hall – yes, that’s a real example. Regardless of its size, incivility is always annoying and often frustrating. We’ve all been the victim of incivility at one time or another, and we’ve all been guilty of it as well. But what exactly is incivility? And why does it bother us so much?

Why focus on civility?

Some experts believe that incivility is on the rise. With the advent of social media, we’re more connected than ever before. But this increased connectivity has also led to more opportunities for rudeness and disrespect. When we’re not face-to-face with someone, it’s easy to say or do something that we wouldn’t normally do. This applies to hybrid work as well. Trust me, we love working remotely, but it is important to find time to humanize your colleagues virtually if you aren’t spending time with them IRL because anonymity can breed incivility. In addition, our fast-paced lives can lead to impatience and frustration, which can manifest as uncivil behavior. Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that incivility is a growing problem.

Make an impact, look within.

So what can we do about it? For starters, we can try to be more aware of our own behavior. When we’re feeling rushed or frazzled, we tend to engage more freely in uncivil behaviors. Bob Sutton would call this being an occasional asshole.  Stress is a part of life, but that doesn’t mean it has to take over. When it comes to managing stress at work, there are a few key things to keep in mind. First, take a step back and assess the situation. What is causing the stress? Is it a deadline, a difficult project, or something else? Once you identify the source of the stress, you can develop a plan to address it. Second, stay organized and focused. This may mean setting up a better system for tracking deadlines or taking a break every few hours to clear your head. Finally, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Make sure to schedule time for relaxation and exercise, and eat healthy meals to help reduce stress levels.

Step in and interrupt incivility the moment it occurs.

We can also encourage others to be more civil by speaking up when we witness rude behavior – especially for those of us who hold power and influence in our organizations.  It can be tough to know how to respond when someone is being rude at work. After all, you don’t want to make the situation worse. But at the same time, you don’t want to just let the rudeness slide. So what’s the best way to handle it? The key is to stay calm and assertive. Don’t let the other person provoke you into an argument. Instead, simply state your feelings clearly and directly. For example, you might say something like, “I’m feeling disrespected right now.” Once you’ve said your piece, walk away if possible. This will diffuse the situation and allow you both to cool down.

 

And finally, we can lead by example. By being more civil ourselves, we can set the tone for those around us and create a more positive workplace environment. So as we head into the home stretch of the year, let’s all commit to being more civil in the workplace. It’ll make our jobs easier and maybe even help us get along better with our coworkers. And who knows, we might even have a little fun in the process. So go ahead, sit with us. We promise to be civil. 😉