Compliments of Howard County Library System via Flickr

I felt so abused, so punished, so violated, so deeply hurt, and eventually very angry that I could not defend myself.” The Civility Solution

Forni suggests that rudeness flexes the “strength” of others. It is in his estimation an attempt to “…show off, dominate, intimidate [and] coerce.”

He distinguishes between unfocused rudeness (which is tantamount to obtuseness), and that which is focused – targeted, malicious acts designed to break recipients, making them appear submissive by comparison.

Rudeness is so rampant because it appears a non-issue. This failing is particularly salient for bosses, who can wield abuse in nonchalant systems. Some enlightened companies do let workers have their say – and if the results are unfavorable, supervisors are expected to amend. People may improve if they’re impacted in their pocketbooks. As long as playing others is considered a pastime, it will continue to occur within corporate walls.

Informal evaluation is another option (as in color coded cards to signal imminent drop off from the behavioral cliff (Pearson & Porath)). If we were rated on civility, what would this criterion entail? For this type of evaluation to work effectively, we need to define its content and to provide examples of its occurrence. Possible components could include willingness to help coworkers, courteous comportment in meetings, uplifting demeanor toward colleagues, and diplomatic reaction to conflict.

Definition, assessment, and enforcement are crucial elements in cultural change. Because employees are the fundamental elements in any firm, it seems that safeguarding their self-esteem is a foundation of corporate success. An appraisal overhaul is important to ensure that the right things are being rewarded.

Opportunities for development can be presented so that everyone can continue to improve. If being the best version of ourselves is indeed the aim, then why not solicit information informally from colleagues? Why not immediately take it upon ourselves to apologize, instead of saying nothing to someone whom you think has no sway? Civility begins with each one of us every day watching our words, and waiting to see how we’re perceived.

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

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