How to Stop Incivility in the Workplace

By ColumnsFOXBusiness

We all have bad days, but how your negative mood impacts productivity and others at work can have a long-lasting impact.

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Earlier this year Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate partnered with KRC Research to conduct its third annual poll on Civility in America: A Nationwide Survey. The survey found that nearly one-third of Americans claim to experience incivility at work. This means far too many American workers are wasting time dealing with the destructive and inappropriate behavior of others which hinders their ability to be a productive and efficient member of the team.

The survey also found that:

  • 23% quit their job because of incivility at work;
  • 63% believe incivility is a major problem in this country;
  • 71% believe civility has declined in recent years;
  • 55% expect the incivility in this country to continue to get worse.

A 2011 article by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) defines workplace incivility as “seemingly inconsequential, inconsiderate words and deeds that violate conventional workplace conduct.”

The anemic labor market and economic recovery has workers logging longer hours and having to do more with fewer resources, so it’s not surprising that tensions in the workplace are running high. The problem is, these tensions can often result in frustration and interpersonal conflicts and create toxic work environments. Here are some ideas for changing this trend:

Training: Bradley Honan, CEO of KRC Research, says institutions have to set the tone for discourse in the workplace. Employee orientation should address rules for engagement and outline expectations for civility. Communication is a challenge in every organization, so providing models for how to communicate and setting expectations for following communication protocols can help get employees and managers on the right path.

Role Modeling: Just as Albert Bandura’s infamous Bobo doll demonstrated, children imitate their parents. In a similar fashion, employees often role model their supervisors’ behavior. Leaders at all levels set the tone of what’s considered acceptable behavior, and managers need to pay attention to their behaviors and be proactive in setting a positive tone.

Off-site Retreats: It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily grind that we often fail to pay attention to what we are actually doing. Leaders should find ways to extract their teams from the daily grind and get a pulse of the team and what’s going on. Even if it’s only for half a day, an off-site session can be incredibly productive. The idea is to facilitate conversations about communication challenges and encourage group discussion about solutions.

Workplace incivility is a vicious cycle that is hard to stop, but no one benefits from incivility in the long term. Combating it is something everyone needs to participate in if there is to be any hope for changing this trend.

Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a CEC certified executive coach trained in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody is author of The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economy and is the founder of Human Capital Integrated (HCI), a firm focused on management and leadership development. Dr. Woody also sits on the advisory board of the Florida International University Center for Leadership.Follow Dr. Woody on Twitter and Facebook