When Reality Trumps Civility

In a recent workplace civility training workshops, as we were reviewing the list of behaviours that are considered workplace incivility, a manager exclaimed, “Are we now teaching people in the workplace basic manners? Is this what we have come to?!”

Great question, especially as the holiday season and new year are about to descend upon us.

So many of our training sessions’ participants lament the seeming loss of basic decorum in the workplace. Truth is, nothing really changed—people are not much different than they used to be. By and large, they do have basic manners. Yes, there are some variations in how these manners are expressed, as anyone who’s ever set foot in a multicultural or multi-generational workplace can attest. And yes, there are the few who are uncivil on a persistent basis. However the vast majority of people come to work and practice what they perceive to be essential decorum and civility.

But here’s what sometimes happens: you arrive at work and you truly, authentically intend to be a positive player. You sincerely mean to live up to your core values—decency and dignity, consideration and kindness.

But then reality hits. And it’s fast and furious. You get sucked into a powerful vortex of incredible demands, lethal deadlines, people who seem unreasonable, faster-than-lightning change, difficult clients, demanding bosses, stubborn room thermostats, budget cuts, doing “more with less”…you name it. (And did I mention personal pressures and even global stressors, all humming in the background?)

So you forget. You forget to be nice. You forget to keep your judgmental thoughts to yourself. You neglect the little niceties. Instead, you become tunnel-visioned—focused on getting through your day and coming out the other end in one piece. You’re a tad curt, dismissive or impatient. You’re not as good with your hellos and thank-yous and a juicy swear word might sneak out here and there. You don’t show the regard for others that you otherwise would have demonstrated.

An observer who doesn’t know the “real you” might say that you are, well, uncivil.

So it’s not about not having manners. It’s about remembering who we are and living up to our values and higher self even when we are pushed, squeezed, stretched, and compressed.

As the year 2016 is about to come to an end, my heartfelt wish for us all is that we become more resilient in navigating our complex lives, so that we can fully and truly be the person we aspire to be, day in and day out.

Best of the holiday season and happy new year!

Please drop a line, anytime.

This entry was posted in Blog, Leadership, Life Balance, Resilience, Respectful Workplace, Workplace Change, Workplace Incivility. Bookmark the permalink.

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