What role do manners and civility play in the workplace?

by Sam on September 23, 2009

manners

00:10 Answer: A huge role! Here’s proof. Imagine that you work closely with someone who follows little of the advice below. (I hope you have to strain very hard to do this!) How does that affect your job satisfaction? Well, guess what? Many others are as affected by the same rudeness, thoughtlessness, and inconsideration.

In her book The Cost of Bad Behavior: How Incivility is Damaging Your Business and What to Do About It Christine Porath documents these and other impacts on employees who are on the receiving end of uncivil behavior:

48% decreased their work effort,

66% said their performance declined,

80% lost time worrying about the incident, and

78% said their commitment to the organization declined

Are rough manners and lack of civility affecting productivity on your team? Is there a chance that others may be offended by your manners? Take the first step toward finding out.

Print this list. Put a check mark (√) in the boxes of descriptions you are absolutely sure consistently characterize your behavior. Use a question mark (?) where you’re not sure or the item only sometimes describes you. Put an (X) in front of the behaviors that you violate more often than you and others want to see. Leave blank those items not applicable to you.

Respect toward Others

  • I work collaboratively and deferentially with senior management.
  • I submit to those in authority.
  • I arrive to meetings on time and stay the whole time, unless excused.
  • In meetings, I keep my PDA and laptop computer turned off except to receive critical phone calls or to participate in the meeting.
  • I attend retreats and conferences scheduled for my team; I don’t look for an excuse to leave early.
  • I attend and participate actively in training sessions paid for by my employer.
  • In every way I respect the time, schedules, and workloads of others.

Communication with Others

  • My speech is seasoned with grace; not peppered with demeaning, sarcastic, profane, or degrading language.
  • I say my piece once and move on; I’m succinct and crisp; I don’t bloviate.
  • I’m careful to adjust the expression of my thoughts to the sensibilities, needs, and demographics of the particular person listening to me.
  • I listen when others speak, rather than interrupt, finish their sentences, or merely wait to seize air time.
  • I don’t eavesdrop or barge into other’s conversations; I respect their privacy.
  • I won’t speak in a language others don’t understand in front of them.
  • I’m not a gossip; neither do I violate communication confidences.
  • My speech brims with “please,” “hello,” “excuse me,” “thank you” and “my pleasure.”

Relationship Building

  • I smile, give eye contact, and greet others when I encounter them.
  • I provide a timely answer or response to people when they put the ball in my court.
  • I fulfill my promises and obligations or alert others quickly that I can’t.
  • I express any concerns I may have about people’s behavior to them and not to others.
  • I am tactful yet directly honest about my positions, opinions, feelings, and beliefs.
  • I ask, “Will you forgive me?” when I have disappointed, hurt, or offended others.
  • I am not demanding nor do I exert unwanted influence or dominance over others.

Additional: What did you learn from your self-assessment? Record three vows for changed behavior that you now make to people in general or to specific role players in your life. And consider other ways to use this list. Will you ask colleagues, friends, and family for confirmation on your checks, questions marks, and X’s? Might a few of these statements find a place on your work team’s charter? (See the April 22, 2009 ASK in the archives.) Should this list form the foundation of a mandatory training class for the employees of your company? Are you now emboldened to give feedback, with help from the July 22, 2009 ASK, to someone whose lack of decorum troubles you?

Aphorism: So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. ~Matthew 7:12

Approaching: An email request will get you a sneak preview of any of these “coming attractions.”

10/7: How can I wow the audience when I make a presentation?

10/21: How can I/we run more effective meetings?

11/4: What should be our rules of engagement at meetings?

11/18: How can we get employees to provide world class service to customers?

12/2: How can we get employees to provide world class service to each other?

12/16: What should I have on my list of goals for personal achievement?

12/30: What is the essence of emotional competence?

1/13: What can I do about a coworker who’s driving me crazy?

Action (yours)

Do you have an Ask for Sam about leadership, team building or communications? Email that question to him at sam@asksamdeep.com. He will respond to you either by email or telephone. Please include your telephone number with your Ask.

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