The Three Basic Principles
Creating a civil workplace boils down to three basic principles: respect, restraint and refinement. Here’s a closer look at each.
Respect. It’s inherent in the belief that although another person’s beliefs may be different than yours, you should still honor his viewpoint and accord the other person due consideration. Taking someone's feelings, ideas and preferences into consideration indicates you take him seriously and his position has worth and value, even if contrary to your own. In so doing, you validate the other person’s individuality and right to a differing opinion.
Respect is the most important step in building a relationship and reducing the potential for conflict. In an atmosphere of mutual respect, goals and concessions become easier to attain.
Restraint. This is simply a matter of exercising personal self-control at all times. Therefore, you should know your triggers. Be aware of how your words and actions affect other people. Being aware of the things that make you angry or upset helps you monitor and manage your reaction. Think before you act. Remember, you may not be able to control the things others say or do, but you can control your response.
Refinement. This is the quest for continual cultivation and improvement of relationships in the workplace. Just as the process of Continual Quality Improvement (CQI) has come to be known as a means to improve performance and increase efficiency in an organization, refinement of thought, ways of expressing those thoughts and the practice of continuously exercising appropriate decorum when relating to others can go a long way toward enhancing workplace civility. Improving and strengthening relationships requires effort and commitment.
Achieving civility in the workplace requires the involvement of every employee from the top down. Going to work in an environment free from the back-biting, rude employee behavior and the constant complaining many are subjected to every day is certainly not ideal. However, making the commitment to achieving and sustaining civility can be the key to a successful and thriving organization with high employee morale.
Your Role as a Leader
As a leader, you can and should make workplace civility a priority in your business by insisting all employees exercise these practical ideas:
- Pursue understanding first.
- Listen and respect other opinions.
- Seek common ground, even if it's to agree to disagree.
- Tune in to what's happening around you. Observe the climate
- Accept responsibility for your actions and the consequences of those actions.
- Offer and willingly accept constructive feedback.
Leaders are called to promote a safe and respectful workplace. That means insisting on the practice of civility and common courtesy. It starts with you. Take time to assess your own behaviors. Do you gossip or spread rumors? Have you ever raised your voice to make a point? Are you communicating important information to your team, or withholding information they need? Set an expectation of workplace civility by “walking the talk” and being the change you want to see.
Danita Johnson Hughes is a healthcare industry executive and public speaker and the author of Power From Within and the forthcoming Turnaround. For more information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org ; visit www.danitajohnsonhughes.com .