Let’s try to contribute to an increase in civility

Headshot of Cecilia Pita

By Cecilia Pita

Image of man fustrated by incivility

From rocketing food and gas prices and growing inflation to higher interest rates and soaring crime rates, everything around us seems to be increasing. But you know what isn’t? Civility. Let’s increase civility.

Rage, conflict, and disrespect are increasing at an alarming rate. Protests and counter- protests are becoming progressively more volatile. Social media attacks and threats are commonplace.

People say whatever they want without consideration or respect for others, both online and offline. Our very own political leaders attack one another in such a way, it seems impossible people are actually listening to each other anymore. These are truly polarizing times.

Anger and conflict

Part of the challenge is caused through social media and mainstream media favouring negative stories over positive ones. Negative news sells better than good news, right? So, we see people yelling at each other, heckling, even coming to blows. After a while, the negative behaviour loses its shock value. Snubs, insults and attacks get the spotlight and pull our attention away from the things we should be focussing on.

My concern is with the lack of any real consequences for incivility in government or the workplace; people may start to believe this is acceptable behaviour. Before you know it, incivility spreads like wildfire and fuels the already existing anger and conflict in society.

Let’s be honest, it has already started.

Workplace incivility

The workplace should be just what the name implies: A place of work. However, it can be very challenging to accomplish when, on top of life’s regular stressors, you have to deal with rude or passive-aggressive behaviour, ignored emails, demanding employees, dismissive comments, people not paying attention, unkempt shared work spaces, rude eye rolling and persistent interruptions when you’re speaking.

People seem to have forgotten what it’s like to work together in the real, physical office.

Incivility in the workplace carries very real consequences. Job satisfaction and productivity goes down. Loyalty wanes. People start avoiding each other and there tends to be higher turnover rates.

Then there are the health-related effects of incivility. Employees are more likely to suffer from poor mental health and feel stressed, emotionally exhausted, burned out, and sleep deprived from work-related insomnia. Eventually, they are unable to wind down and relax during off-work hours.

Before you know it, the incivility from work affects one’s personal life.

Develop a civility plan

So, what can we do? Well, like with most problems, acknowledging there is one is the first step. Then, we should educate people about civility and why it’s important.

Next, we need to involve staff from all levels of an organization in developing a civility plan to give everyone an opportunity to provide feedback.

Maybe there needs to be a process for conflict resolution. Maybe a code of conduct is created. Maybe some guidelines that support positive communication amongst staff are drafted. Perhaps there are consequences for incivility, and there’s a process for reporting and addressing it. Everyone should be on board, and the rules should apply equally to everyone at every level. Staff training may be the next logical step.

Keep in mind, the goal is to restore civility and improve our work relationships, increase job satisfaction and morale. Essentially, create a productive environment.

Some simple ways we can nurture civility in the workplace include the following:

Respect people.

  • Honour people’s time and be punctual.
  • Avoid sending emails at odd hours.
  • Re-read your emails before sending, especially if you tend to be demanding or curt.
  • Listen with the intent to understand, especially with those with whom you disagree.
  • Don’t interrupt people or talk over them.
  • Don’t raise your voice to make a point.
  • Model respectful behaviour, regardless of your position in the organization.
  • Don’t be afraid to apologize when you’re in the wrong.
  • Pause before reacting or speaking.

Make a positive difference

While no one is perfect, we should continue to improve. Let’s be honest and acknowledge our behaviours. Let’s create a culture of cooperation, respect, understanding and tolerance. We need to start caring again and seek to control only what is within our control: ourselves.

Can civility be restored? Yes. I am grateful to all those who provide me feedback because it reminds me that there are like-minded people out there, and this motivates me to keep on drumming my drum, so to speak.

Jane Goodall once said, “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

Let’s make a good difference, together. Let’s increase civility.

If you have a difficult conversation, etiquette-related problem or a social dilemma that you would like help and advice in resolving, please send your queries to Etiquette Matters columnist Cecilia Pita courtesy of editor@manorparkchronicle.com.

“Let’s create a culture of cooperation, respect, understanding and tolerance. We need to start caring again and seek to control only what is within our control: ourselves.” Photo by Yan Krukau, Pexels