5 Ways to Eliminate Rudeness from the Workplace

Posted by July 22, 2014 Business Coaching 4 Comments

Eliminate Rudeness from your Workplace

Overcoming civility in the workplace can be a big challenge, especially in companies where blatant tolerance for explicit and implicit acts of rudeness is already the norm. But this doesn’t mean it’s impossible to create a civil workplace.

The following are just some of the recommended interventions for creating greater civility in your company:

  1. Create, communicate, and enforce policies regarding civil behavior in the workplace. 

Organizations have the power to create the kind of culture they desire by making the practice of civil behavior part of company policy. The key is in being explicit from the very onset what is desired and expected behavior from managers and staff members alike. These policies should be included in the training program of each incoming employee. Pre-determined consequences of uncivil behavior in the workplace must also be consistently enforced to ensure that civility ideals don’t remain just words on paper. The creation of a company civility policy will be discussed in later modules.

  1. Screen job applicants for tendency towards uncivil behavior. 

Companies can create pleasant and ethical working environments by carefully choosing personalities who will make up the organization. It can only take one bully to create much distress in an organization, which is why it’s important that persons with tendencies towards inconsideration, aggression, and disrespect are filtered out from as early as the job interview. This may sound like common sense, but in reality, companies are willing to overlook personality traits that point to potential uncivil behavior when faced with an employee with impressive credentials and experience. Most instigators of incivility in the workplace are those in management, and competent managers are hard to find. It wouldn’t be surprising if business owners and stockholders turn a blind eye on incivility just to keep top brass.

  1. Provide continuous education and training on civility. 

Civil behavior is a skill, and many cases of incivility are simply the result of lack of knowledge and/or practice of skills needed to navigate the workplace in a respectful and considerate fashion. Companies are encouraged to regularly raise awareness on the costs of incivility, as well as keep employees trained in civility-related concepts such as gender sensitivity, harassment in the workplace, stress management, conflict management, and workplace etiquette. Assigning advocates among management and staff members is also an excellent way to keep the momentum of civility training programs going.

  1. Practice regular self-assessment. 

If you want to create an environment that values civility, then you have to look no further than yourself. Make sure that you always look at your own behavior and identify the ways you contribute to workplace incivility. All people are guilty of uncivil behavior, some regularly, others on occasion, but this doesn’t make it ok. Modeling civil behavior in your workplace can be the beginning of organizational change.

  1. Increase accountability and transparency in the company. 

Incivility in the workplace may persist because company set-up makes it easy for acts of incivility to go unnoticed. If there is nothing keeping an employee from posting derogatory emails to co-workers anonymously, then the company is providing instigators with opportunity. If performance review is based only on the opinion of the immediate supervisor, then it gives supervisors leverage to treat subordinates as they wish. But if there is a system for accountability and transparency in a company, then there is a deterrent against instigators of incivility.


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  • Rudeness may be more prevalent in North American society due to the glorification of the extroverted leader. But there is another type of leader …. the introverted leader. Always favouring the more glory seeking aggressive self selling style of the extroverted leader does not fit all the time. It is only half the wheel needed to move forward successfully. So often the business is rolling forward with the feeling it is driving on a FLAT TIRE because it doesn’t recognize the benefits of extroverts AND introverts. In essence hiring ONLY extroverted leaders, makes a workplace more susceptible or at greater to aggressive behaviour. Aggressive behaviour often leads to rudeness in the race to be the top dog, or the glory to be recognized for your work. The introverted leaders tend to be less aggressive since they do not seek constant recognition. They tend to be more sensitive, observant, active (empathic) listeners, and long term strategic listeners. So they, by their very introverted nature, will be less likely to be rude.

    Remedy? Hire the whole wheel! Hire more introverted leaders and managers so that the workforce of a company will be fully rounded with both extroverts and introverts. Only then will a business feel like it is rolling to success.

    • Thank you for your insight Michael Lapointe. It is true that there are leaders that are introverted and extroverted however there are others that are not so black and white. Although it is a good practice to have a well rounded leadership when there is an issue in the workplace it is also good to follow these 5 tips in order to get to the root of the problem.

  • Since I provide Emotional Intelligence for disruptive executives, all of work is related to civility. Rarely are persions exhibiting problems with civility able to benefit from tips. I find it best to use an emotional intelligence assessment to determine objectively what the level of EI is and what needs to be enhanced.

  • Dave Korty says:

    I very much appreciate and thank you for raising the call for civility. We need it in our workplaces as much as we need it in the world at large today. As a business leader, I as we all are, are challenged with many episodes of inconsideration, and self-interest among those we work with, work for and some that work directly for us. Setting the example is the best way, but we also need to challenge others to act respectfully as well. So thank you for the truthful insights as we try to lead our teams by example.

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