Civility in the Workplace

Christine Porath contributed a great piece in last Sunday’s The New York Times, “No Time to Be Nice at Work”. Many of you know that “badly behaving bosses” is one of my soap boxes, so I was interested in her article and the underlying research.

This problem of incivility occurs all too often. I’ve had dozens of executive coaching assignments where I’ve been brought in because senior level people treat others like road kill. They possess a level of self-importance that their point of view, their time, their “privilege” is more important than anything. They boost themselves at the expense of others.

Do you know anyone like this?

Porath comments that incivility has risen in the workplace in the past 20 or so years, and I agree. I would add and emphasize that the issue of respect is an underpinning of this issue. Many of the people who exhibit inappropriate behavior simply do not respect their colleagues. They feel superior and dismissive of anyone who isn’t on their level.

At the same time that incivility is on the rise, a more hopeful countertrend is emerging, and that is the rise of the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace. Emotionally intelligent leaders are rendering obsolete those badly behaving bosses.

Organizations that foster high levels of emotional intelligence have more engaged and productive employees. Being emotionally intelligent doesn’t imply that you’re soft; it means that you have higher levels of self-awareness and self-regulation. It also means that you have empathy and an ability to interact effectively with others.

It doesn’t cost you anything to show respect and civility to your colleagues. You are not “less than” because you’re kind to co-workers. If you think you need to be a jerk to get ahead, think again.

Have a great week!

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