Compliments of Ken Lund via Flickr

Civility policies, anti-bullying codes, and ethical conduct norms are ways that companies encourage and enforce more disciplined workplace behavior.

These strategies can curb boorish attitudes and emotional abuse at work. But grass roots change from within, change that occurs from an internal shift in how we hold the inner man/woman accountable may be infinitely more effective. A personal code by which we measure our actions can achieve lasting change.

What are some tenets we can use? The bullet points below provide a starting point:


  • I will not discuss people behind their backs. I will ensure that each word I speak is intentional, that my speech is impeccable, and that I refrain from any knee jerk reactions. I will refuse to act as bystander for the schadenfreude of seeing rivals sliced to pieces in a group smear.
  • I will not post anathema on the Internet. I will not engage in anonymous trolling from behind a screen.
  • I will exercise self-restraint in an open forum. I will encourage, support, mentor, develop, and contribute to my colleagues’ perspectives. I will behave as an architect of human capital.
  • I will let bygones be bygones. I will not punish someone else with passive aggression. I will look for the “gift in the garbage” to learn from that person and/or problem. I will speak my peace respectfully if I feel that someone has stepped on my toes.
  • I will not play “victim.” Wallowing in “you did that” how I felt, and the wrongness of other people’s activity does nothing but fester unnecessary conflict. Focus on how to move forward through peacemaking saves us from bellowing loudly and accomplishing little. Moaning, whining, and/or blaming other people defines us as puerile and small. A grudge match can end in a version of the Hatfields and McCoys in which nobody wins.
  • I will respect other people’s boundaries. I will not meddle in their business, show up announced at their office, or drive past their house for no other reason than to gratify my personal viewing pleasure.
  • I will mind my own business. Acting as “town crier” might be “OK” if we are trying to alert other people of impending doom. It is however grossly inappropriate when it serves no other purpose than to churn information in a busy body mode of conduct.
  • I will do my best. Everything that we do is our signature. Our performance, dress, speech, actions, and attitudes all combine to create a personal stamp. If each one of these attributes had a number attached, how would you score? What image do you create in the minds’ eye of someone else? Personal integrity consists of what we do regardless of circumstance.
  • I will give other people the benefit of the doubt. The drama unfolding in our heads many times is false; it may emanate from our own misguided/self-centered/misinformed way of thinking. Presumptive arrogance surfaces when we blame other people before getting all the facts, and in the process excoriate them absent evidence. Abandoning the role of detective within our peers’ lives frees us.
  • I will be inclusive. I will invite people into my group/dyad/project so that they do not feel isolated and/or shut out, and so that an atmosphere of cliques is not pervasive. I will expand my peer group as new people arrive on the scene.


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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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