Develop a Civil Work Environment

It seems that today’s casual business environment has endangered civility, professional courtesy, and regard for others, leaving rudeness, disrespect, and other inappropriate behaviors in its wake. Common complaints include interruptions, foul language, gossip, chronic lateness for meetings and appointments, ill-tempered voice mails, flaming e-mails, unreturned phone calls, and crossing personal or professional boundaries.

Is your office immune? By making civility a priority within your organization and a part of your culture, you can help develop more productive and professional work relationships; reduce stress and diffuse hostile work environments; foster mutual feelings of respect between co-workers and supervisors; enhance problem-solving; and increase trust in the workplace.

On the macro level, management should model appropriate behavior and accountability. Civility guidelines can be set the same as dress codes or other workplace requirements. You might also consider evaluating and measuring civility like any other performance metric; working and playing well with others has a significant impact on individual and team performance.

On the micro level, we should all take the time to observe civility in everyday situations. Follow the Golden Rule and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Clean up after yourself. Don’t make promises you cannot keep. Be considerate of others’ time. Return messages. Don’t hesitate to say "please," "thank you,"” or "I’m sorry." Be patient. Speak to people as equals. Smile.

Finally, seek out opportunities at work to practice random acts of kindness. The time spent showing consideration for others is a smart business investment; people tend to have long memories when it comes to how you treat them.

Mallary Tytel President and Founder Healthy Workplaces Sioux Falls, S.D.

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