The workplace is a reflection of society at large. One month post-election there have been anecdotal reports of workplace disruption, conflict, inappropriate behavior (bullying, sexual harassment), and general incivility. Behaviors that demonstrate a lack of respect and civility have very real negative business implications.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the current incidence of reported discrimination is at its highest—44.5%—since 1997. One study found that 60% of employees believe that their coworkers’ annoying behaviors negatively impact the workplace and as a result, 40% reported that they are looking for new employment. Couple the polarized election rhetoric with these macro trends and it sounds pretty dire.
What can you do?
A good place to start is to take a look in the mirror and examine your own habits. When you communicate with others—whether by email, chatting, or presenting—think about whether what you’re saying is true, necessary, and kind. Stopping the swirl of verbal venom and putting an end to negativity changes the tone and focus of interactions.
When others express opinions contrary to yours, do you shut them down in an aggressive and definitive way—perhaps in a misguided attempt to be “efficient”? When you respect the views and values of others, you acknowledge that it’s okay to be different, and you provide an opportunity to leverage one of our greatest strengths as a country: diversity.
People determine your value to them, in great part, by the way you make them feel when they are in contact with you. Do you consistently practice good manners? By that, I don’t mean just saying please and thank you. It’s about not letting your mood dictate your manners. Being consistently sensitive to the feelings of others. Reading body language to know when to back off on a question or topic so as to not embarrass someone. Not monopolizing conversations. Showing up on time, knowing that if you’re late, you’re essentially saying that your time is more important than theirs is. Showing good manners shows that you have respect for others as well as for yourself—and makes you much more enjoyable to be around.
Changing our own behavior is how we start changing our personal environment. An added bonus of these habits is that not only will you feel better if you adopt them, you’ll also be a positive role model for others.