What Has Happened to Civility?

Have you noticed that more people are behaving badly these days? I’m not going to speculate about the triggers, but how to deal with bad behavior has crept into many of my conversations with clients.

It seems that the offenders don’t hesitate to be contentious, whereas previously they would have been more patient or conciliatory to reach consensus. Here are a but a few of the examples that have surfaced recently.

+ Some employees are holding their employers hostage by demanding stratospheric increases in compensation against the threat of quitting.

+ On the other hand, other companies deem it acceptable to demand so much from their employees that the employees are burned out and running on fumes.

+ People are more litigious. Can’t get what you want? Sue them. Don’t like how someone treats you? Sue them. Someone looks at you the wrong way? Sue them.

You also see this in everyday experiences. During a few days on the road last week, I saw a brawl over a tapped fender in traffic that was hardly moving. Travelers jumped the lines and fought with reservation agents in the airport over flight delays. I overheard arguments where people insisted on receiving services they hadn’t paid for.

What is going on?

An overarching theme of these examples is entitlement. Entitled people ignore what other people say or think, and genuinely believe that they are right, and their opponents are wrong.

I wish there was a silver bullet to deal with these issues, but there isn’t one. Leaders have been perennially challenged by entitled people, and difficult as it is, should be reminded not to degenerate into unproductive dialogue with the offenders.

I think this can be particularly hard for empathetic leaders because your tendency is to negotiate and come to consensus. Entitled people are often immovable, which makes negotiating especially frustrating.

While it can be hard to maintain thick skin during these episodes stay strong, stay your course, and stay professional.

Header imagye by Gabrielle_cc/Pixabay.

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