Have you been naughty or nice?

Civility and Respect in the Workplace

 Although you might think I’m referring to “Santa’s Naughty or Nice” list (or whatever else that crosses your mind), I’m actually referring to how you are when interacting with people. Civility Expert Christine Porath shares in her Ted Talk opening statement that “how you show up at work and treat people means everything. That with every interaction with people, you either lift them up making them feel valued, appreciated and heard or you hold people down making them feel small, insulted, disregarded or excluded.” So, have you been naughty or nice?

This month’s blog is on civility and respect in the workplace and how much incivility negatively impacts individuals, teams and the organization as a whole. You know I’m passionate about Well-being in the Workplace and for the next couple of years, I’ll be facilitating workshops on Civility and Respect in the Workplace. This opportunity has been an eye opener for me and an eye opener for the workshop participants.

“How you show up at work and treat people means everything.” – Christine Porath

What is civility and respect in the workplace?

A civil and respectful workplace is where employees are respectful and considerate in their interactions with one another, with customers, clients and the public. It’s about acting thoughtfully towards others. It’s about putting ourselves in other people’s shoes, being curious and asking others instead of assuming and not being too quick to judge.

Finally, it’s about working together in a spirit of openness, honesty and transparency that encourages respectful communication. Oh, and each person (whether you are a new employee, a long-term employee, a manager or a chief executive) is responsible to keeping an environment free of unfairness and inequity.

Why does civility matter so much?

Employees who work on teams where civility is a priority possess more energy, they feel more motivated and enthusiastic, they experience feelings of vitality, express more job satisfaction, have greater engagement and have significantly higher performance. Now who doesn’t want more of that?

The poison of incivility

Christine Porath refers to incivility as “a virus that spreads, making the lives of everyone exposed to it more difficult.” Behaviours such as gossiping, taking credit for somebody else’s work, excluding people, being late for a meeting and not apologizing, making demeaning remarks, not saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, writing rude emails, not listening, not saying sorry, passing the blaming and more… contribute towards creating a toxic and unhealthy workplace.

Are you curious on how you are doing? Take the on-line assessment of your behaviour at work on Christine Porath’s website. 

The consequences of incivility

This is what we discovered in our workshops so far. Uncivil behaviour, if left unchecked has tremendous consequences. At an individual level, we are looking at depression, isolation, retaliation, disengagement, mental health challenges, illness and so much more.

The consequences on teams are loss of productivity, collaboration, poor communication, errors, increased stress on management, loss of team credibility, duplication of work and more. The consequences on an organization are higher turnover, loss of corporate memory, loss of credibility, less innovation, the inability to attract talent, higher cost for turnover, political or legal action, loss of competitive advantages and more.

In a study lead by Christine Porath, in a poll of 800 managers and employees across 17 industries, that among workers on the receiving end of incivility:

48% Intentionally decreased their work effort

38% Intentionally decreased the quality of their work

80% Lost time worrying about the incident

78% Said that their commitment to the organization declined

12% Left their job because of uncivil treatment

#1 cause why incivility is getting worse?

Stress and the feeling of overwhelm. In one study, participants were asked why they behaved uncivilly. More than half claimed it was because they were overloaded, and more than 40% said they had “no time to be nice”. A quarter said they were rude because their leaders were disrespectful. Another quarter reported that their companies lacked guidelines or training about how to treat people.

Fostering civility at your workplace

Civility varies not just by individuals but also by culture, generations, gender, industry and organization. What’s also tricky is what’s civil to one person, could be absolutely fine to another.

Foster civility by applying the Platinum Rule quoted by Dave Kerpen author of The Art of People, “Treat others the way they want to be treated”.

Also seriously consider bringing Peak Energy Management in your workplace to reduce the #1 cause of incivility (stress and the feeling of overwhelm) and increase your employees awareness by providing training on civility and respect in the workplace. We know incivility is a growing problem and we want to support your employees, your teams and your entire organization to work smarter and not harder, to have meaningful and productive communication, to increase your company’s bottom line and to have a healthy workplace culture.


If you liked this article share it, like it on:  LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Bring me to your workplace!

Are you an employee? Share this with management. Are you in management? Seriously consider bringing us in. Are you a reader that believes in workplace well-being? Act and/or forward this message to someone who you know will benefit. Let’s make our workplaces healthy again!

Contact us at Peak Energy Management and let’s chat about what we can do together!