Common Workplace Civility Issues

Author: Judi Clements
Common workplace civility issues vary among organizations. According to a recent survey, 88 percent of Americans think civility is declining and becoming a serious problem. Harassment at work, bullying at workplace, discrimination in the workplace and restraints are workplace incivility that comprises more intense and repeated acts of disrespect and rudeness.
Factors Contributing to the Decline of Workplace Civility
New employees are entering the workplace without basic civility habits & limits on their behavior. We often live, commute, & work in over-crowded environments that cause friction among people. Today’s transient workforce feels less loyalty to co-workers & employers. Technology allows us to be anonymously rude. Technology has dehumanized the workplace & forced us to be plugged in 24/7. Technology has resulted in an erosion of interpersonal skills. Success is often equated with money & money often empowers people to dispense with civility. Some people think equality serves as an excuse to stop being polite & helpful to one another. Many overwork themselves and are sleep-deprived, resulting in frayed nerves. Organizations expect their employees to do more with less & do it faster.
Common Workplace Incivility Issues
Leaving the paper tray of the printer empty after finishing your copying job. Coming to work with a raging cold and leaving the dirty hanky on the table. Taking a cell phone call during a meeting. Arriving late for the meeting. Spreading workplace gossip. Holding informal meetings right outside the cubicle and talking in loud voices. Sneaking around the office, taking pictures of co-workers asleep on the job. Stealing someone else’s food whenever hungry. Keeping stale food in the refrigerator for several months. Dictating work to employees in aggressive manner, yelling & cursing with a real “in your face” approach.
The core of civility is restraint. Restraint is the ability to delay gratification for the benefit of others. Restraint calls for the infusion of thinking & thoughtfulness in all our words & actions. Restraint is “the art of feeling good later.” “Restraint” is our inner designated driver. It directs us to think before we speak & act. We all have it & can learn to summon it when needed. Instead of rushing into unthinking action, we ask ourselves.
Guidelines for Civil Communication
Here are a few guidelines for civil communication, expect & honor differences. Give everyone time to express their point of view. Listen respectfully. Disagree with ideas, without attacking the person. Try to stay open-minded. Realize you can’t change anybody. Know when to step-away.
Purpose of Workplace Handbook
Your philosophy & civility guidelines should be reflected in your Employee Handbook. These guidelines should also be a part of your employee training. Here are the workplace guidelines that must be written in the handbook: Email, internet--when to use, response time, tone, language, and social media guidelines. Being punctual at meetings & appointments, agendas, action items, participation. An employee handbook should contain civility guidelines, which states, “We are dedicated to maintaining a workplace that is productive & civil. Our employees will treat one another, and those we serve, with respect. We encourage courtesy & respectful communication and will not tolerate debasing, rude, hostile, or bullying behavior. Vulgar language & gestures are prohibited. We settle disagreements by positive conflict management and discussion.”

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