Civility at Work

Working relationships have a pivotal role in shaping employees’ productivity and personal fulfillment. For the most part, these relationships go well. When they get off track, people have the motivation and the ability to respond appropriately to get things going smoothly again.

But sometimes relationships get stuck. When that happens, getting relationships back on track becomes a major priority.

The CREW experience has taught us that the greatest potential for change lies in improving civility at work.

It isn’t so much the grand values but the day-to-day contacts that shape experience.

Civility at work resides in the small stuff, so it’s easy to overlook. But civility at work has a large, expansive impact. One reason is that people have lots of small interactions with one another throughout their workday. Opportunities for heroic gestures or clear demonstrations that a colleague has your back occur rarely. You learn a lot when they happen, but they just don’t happen that often.

The small encounters when people greet one another or share a bit of practical information pervade worklife. They are the elements from which people construct an understanding of how things operate at work. Civility at work informs people about their standing with one another. Civility at work makes a statement about respect. Those statements carry a strong emotional tone. They not only define the present encounter, they imply how things will likely develop in the future.

Three small steps you can take to promote civility at work:

  • Acknowledge: Simply communicating your awareness of another person’s presence is the first step towards conveying civility at work. Acknowledging another person, just by saying hello, is a minimal first step.
  • Attend: Actively attending takes the next step up the ladder of civility at work. Engaging in a conversation, especially one that conveys awareness of what the other person values about your work together, has a powerful impact.
  • Accommodate: The next level of showing civility at work is accommodating the other person. Just holding a door or inviting someone to join a conversation includes that person in your community.

Do you have an example of someone showing civility at work lately?

Did that action make a difference?

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