Workplace incivility refers to those seemingly insignificant behaviours that are rude, disrespectful, discourteous or insensitive, where the intent to harm is ambiguous or unclear. Incivility often happens unintentionally, and without realizing the negative impact it has on those who are affected by it.
Every workplace has some measure of incivility—wherever there are human, incivility is inevitable. Most of us engage in uncivil behaviour inadvertently, unintentionally, and sometimes even unconsciously. We ignore someone, make a sarcastic comment, or use our electronic devices in ways that make someone feel dismissed.
Some uncivil behaviours are highly personal in nature. Here, the behaviour is clearly directed at a specific person or persons, in both subtle or blatant forms. Here you’ll find comments or body language that dismiss a person’s experience, skills or expertise, gossip about coworkers, direct sarcasm, silent treatment, cliques and exclusion, or the R.U.T – rude use of technology that sends a dismissive message.
Other forms of uncivil behaviours are more ‘victimless’ by nature. These are inconsiderate or discourteous actions that are not directed at a specific person or group of people but, rather, violate what most people would consider to be the norms of workplace courtesy. We refer to these as ‘unprofessional’ behaviours. Here you will find behaviours such as using a speakerphone to listen to voice messages while using a speakerphone which disrupts other people’s work or leaving the microwave dirty when others need to use it.
The first type of uncivil behaviours cause the most turmoil and have the greatest implications for people, teams and the work itself. They are also the ones that leaders find more challenging to diagnose and handle and where they are most likely to make mistakes that will carry significant ramifications. To learn more about the many ways that incivility affects people, teams and organizations and what you can do about it, drop by our blog (lots of juicy reading there), read our articles, or learn how to lead a thoughtful team discussion using one of our Thought Booster processes.
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