Mastering Civility | Christine Porath

Summary of: Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace
By: Christine Porath


In an increasingly fast-paced and remote world, rudeness and incivility have become rampant in the workplace, affecting employee morale, performance and relationships. ‘Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace’ by Christine Porath explores the various forms and implications of workplace incivility and provides actionable solutions to foster a respectful and harmonious environment. By understanding the trends that contribute to rudeness, recognizing signs and behavior patterns along with the psychological and financial impacts of incivility, both individuals and organizations can strive towards fostering a respectful and productive work environment.

The Impact of Rudeness

A survey shows that “incivility” is a major problem in America, with 95% of respondents agreeing. Workplace incivility comes in the form of making calls or texting during meetings, yelling at employees, belittling or heckling subordinates, taking credit for someone else’s work or ideas, and undermining other people’s efforts. People are often uncivil when they’re tired or stressed, not realizing how their actions affect others. Unintentional rudeness is also destructive. Certain trends have caused incivility to increase, such as globalization and remote work putting pressure on office relationships. Increased workloads cause stress, causing people to lash out. The written form of communication, such as emails and texts, often lacks nuance, leading to misinterpretation. To make an impact in your business and career, choose respectfulness over rudeness as how you treat people matters greatly.

The Cost of Rudeness

Incivility in the workplace has both personal and organizational consequences. Rudeness increases stress levels which can lead to health problems and more negative behavior. It also affects concentration, creativity, decision-making, and information recall. Even a single incident of low-intensity rudeness lowers a person’s cognitive abilities. Workplace relationship problems result in lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover, causing managers to spend 13% of their time resolving them. Rudeness makes people less willing to offer or accept feedback and reduces their helpfulness and information sharing. Victims of rudeness can experience negative or aggressive thoughts, unaware of their association with the incident. Genuine appreciation, however, can uplift, energize, and encourage good behavior.

The Power of Civility

Behaving politely towards others conveys respect and regard. This lifts people up. Civility helps people succeed as it increases productivity, motivation, and teamwork. When leaders treat employees respectfully, their status and employees’ motivation increases. Civility spreads just as pervasively as incivility since people reciprocate behavior. Break the cycle of rudeness with positive or polite interaction to reinforce civility. Remember that attitude, mindset, and willfulness make all the difference.

The Civil Behavior Test

Are you a polite and respectful person? “The Civil Behavior Test” challenges readers to examine their behavior in various situations. From using appropriate manners to actively listening and avoiding negative actions like interrupting or spreading rumors, this book reminds readers to prioritize kindness and respect in their daily lives.

Feedback Strategies

The book details seven effective strategies for obtaining feedback from others as part of self-improvement. The first is to ask trusted friends and co-workers for examples of positive and negative behavior and areas for improvement. The second involves hiring a professional coach for objective analysis and suggestions. The third is to conduct a team tune-up through mutual coaching and accountability. Fourth, superiors, colleagues, and direct reports should be asked to provide feedback. Fifth, observe people and discern their emotions. Sixth, keep a journal to detect patterns and motives. Finally, practice self-care to stave off stress.

Mastering the Basics of Civility

Begin your journey towards improved civility by focusing on the three fundamentals: smiling more, building authentic relationships, and sharpening listening skills. By smiling more, you not only improve your own mood, but you also uplift the moods of those around you. Building authentic relationships with staff members encourages a deeper sense of connection and acknowledgement of their efforts. Sharpening your listening skills involves getting rid of distractions, focusing your attention, making eye contact, and asking questions. Biases are innate and shape our actions on autopilot, which can lead to unfair workplace practices. Eliminate unconscious biases by incorporating impartial and diverse processes into decision-making. Educate others about the negative impact of unconscious bias in the workplace. Mastering these basics will enhance civility in your organization and positively impact the overall work culture.

Fostering Respectful Work Environment

Adopt a culture of giving to promote a respectful work environment. By sharing resources, recognition, gratitude, feedback, and purpose, a collaborative and affirming atmosphere can be achieved. The most effective way to implement this is by providing specific positive feedback and recognizing contributions. Negative feedback should be provided in a safe and purposeful manner to aid improvement. By showing people their work has meaning and aligns with the organization’s goals, employees feel valued, acknowledged and aware of their impact. Creating a culture of giving will increase respect, civility and collaboration in the workplace.

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