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Uncivilized: Tips for Managing Disrespectful Behavior

9 Nov. 2016 Posted by aadams

Written by Sumaya Kroger, FEI EAP Counselor

People-watching is very interesting. We quickly notice behavioral patterns and, after a while, pinpoint those individuals we might characterize as “uncivilized”: Someone yelling into their cellphone; a couple arguing in the distance; disparaging remarks made by someone who thinks they won’t be overheard.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines uncivilized, in part, as “not polite, reasonable or respectful; showing no concern for the well-being of people or for the proper way to behave towards people.”

Uncivilized behaviors can be seen everywhere, and the workplace is no exception. Most of us, if not everyone, has experienced some form of rude or disrespectful behavior at work. It may be as simple as failing to return emails or phone calls promptly, or consistently placing blame on a person or group of people for anything that goes wrong—regardless of context.

How do you navigate these behaviors in a professional environment? Here are some tips to assist managers, supervisors and even employees in creating a more civilized workplace:

  • Create an inclusive work environment by recognizing and respecting individual differences and qualities.
  • Self-monitor the respect you display in all areas of communication.
  • Understand that not everyone responds the same way as you do to different topics or ideas. Knowing what makes people frustrated and/or upset enables you to manage your reactions and respond in an appropriate manner.
  • Adopt a positive and solution-driven approach to resolving conflict.
  • Address issues with a supervisor by using “I statements” in a calm manner.
  • Gather relevant facts, especially before acting on assumptions that can damage relationships.
  • Remember the golden rule: Do or say unto others as you would have them do or say unto you!

Individuals in the workplace may not always see eye to eye on all things, but it’s important to respect and acknowledge that everyone has their own unique ideas, values, beliefs and perspectives—even if you don’t agree with them.

If your company has an employee assistance program (EAP), consider ways to promote use to your employees. The EAP can be a valuable resource for employees wishing to discuss topics ranging from mental health and AODA issues, to challenges relating to work.

For more on issues of civility in the workplace and community, you can read additional FEI blogs on the topic here and here.


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