Civility: Civility in the workplace

Part I: The workplace in America is becoming increasingly more uncivil, ill-mannered, chronically rude and disrespectful of the opinions of others. Assaultive language, intolerance of differences, aggressive behavior and false accusations all contribute to stress, absenteeism and a hostile environment.

Other acts of incivility are aggressive, inappropriate communication via cell phones, e-mails, and social media. Taking credit for the works of others, lack of respect and restraint, tardiness or texting during meetings, bullying and humiliation of workers, and toxic personalities all contribute to dysfunctional operations within companies.

Today there is more stress within companies, perhaps because of the economy and downsizing of staff, which puts a heavier workload on others. The "dress down" of professional dress toward ultra-casual and sloppy can help create a demise in professional behavior. Lack of performance, distrust and disharmony between employers and employees affect morale, retention, profits and employee productivity. The stress of meeting deadlines, competition, personal and professional differences in objectives, negligence, and lack of mutual collaboration may all contribute to the incivility in the workplace.

When I spoke with a client and relatively new chief executive of 18 months, she shared an experience of incivility in her workplace. The former owner of many years had put up with traits of Employee A and Employee B, but just didn't want to "rock the boat" because she was soon going to sell the business and retire.

Employee A was observed being judgmental and criticizing customers after she got off the phone with their order, using a critical attitude while mocking a customer's choice for the order, using a very loud voice in the office, blaming others for mistakes, had to always be "right" and felt the need to share any misery in her life with the office staff. Her cubicle was a mess and disorganized. She kept recycled cans in a box under the desk, which she had been asked to remove.

Instead of consulting with the sales representative over shipping costs, she would go over their heads and go directly to the boss and complain that sales employees didn't know how to do their jobs. Criticism, blame, and victimhood were often her mode of behavior. Other employees did everything to avoid her because her negative attitude was contagious.

With her personality and personal habits, having her in the company was counterproductive and depressive. She was fired. Her comment was, "I was wondering when you were going to fire me." She was unwilling to take responsibility for her actions.

Next week will be another example of an attitude that helps to create tension and incivility among workers.

DIANA OLSON, MA AICI CIP, may be contacted through olsonco465 or (626) 584-9761.

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