Civility at Work
Work is essential for all of us. Not just for financial independence but also other, more fundamental reasons. Everyone has a deep need to contribute and progress; it’s fundamental to human nature.
We’ve all had similar work experiences
What is your experience with work? Yeah, I thought so. It seems almost everyone has had a negative, dysfunctional, or even combative work experience. Bring up the topic of work, and everyone has a story to tell.
I worked in four different sectors all over the U.S. and had nearly the same experience everywhere. Backbiting, snarky remarks, aggression, and bullying adds up to incivility in a “civilized” workplace.
The common thread
Managers tell me their biggest challenge is employee retention. Workers say their experiences at work either drive them away or push them to stop trying. The common thread for all of us is the dissonance created by incivility.
Researchers say managers are to blame for the discord and incivility. But it’s not that simple. The workplace is more diverse and complex today. It’s tempting but unrealistic to try to address complex and universal workplace problems with one neat little answer.
We need everyone
We can all contribute to improved work experiences. This is our higher calling—to make improvement our purpose. Most of us are not happy with the current status-quo. So let’s take up the reins and accept the challenge to be the improvement we all want to see.
We are at a crossroads of sorts. We can continue down the road of workplace incivility and discord that escalate to toxic lawsuits with shrapnel that affects everyone.
Or we can all start making small daily improvements that make everyone a little nobler and work more appealing; creating civility at work.
Those who apply a Civility at Work approach, recognize:
- Incivility diminishes all of humanity
- Improvement depends on feeling less anxious
- Low morale is everyone’s challenge
- We can’t contribute and progress in an uncivil climate
- It’s time to stop waiting for change and create change
What this means for you
A rewarding career that gives you purpose, the opportunity to contribute and progress and realize fulfillment is a worthy investment. It doesn’t just happen. You make it happen. The power is in how you approach problems, your professionalism, and your skillful living.
Work has purpose, meaning, and fulfillment built into it, but only if you recognize it and embrace it. If work feels flat, uninteresting, lifeless and dull, maybe you need a reframe.
Improvement is simple
The improvement I propose is simple but not easy. It requires a new toolset, skillset, and a new mindset. That’s the investment. It’s the gift that keeps on giving because you continue to grow ever more valuable.
Here’s how to begin creating Civility at Work:
- Increase self-awareness. Invest in understanding how emotions (feelings) affect your mood, your words, actions, and decisions. Intentionally pause. Slow things down and observe. Your shift from actor to an observer will reveal what is going on at a deeper level.
- Guard your words. Increase your self-management discipline. Recognize that there is no value whatsoever in negativity. Everybody knows that jokes and sarcasm are a ruse for how one really feels, so don’t even joke negatively. Become a consummate professional.
- Life isn’t a sitcom. Snarky comebacks work well for sitcom comedians, but in real life, they create dissonance, tension, and conflict. They don’t add to anything. They create a substantial drag on your career; as well as organizational progress, productivity, and success (profit).
Retain your emotional balance in the face of workplace difficulty and constructively dispel anxiety—the payoff will be yours!
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