This topic is a touchy one. You may find it slightly odd to be in a blog from what most would consider a "technology" company. However, we at ASW are about PEOPLE, process and technology, and I see this a quite fitting topic on the wake of our participation in a User Group Conference this week (TUG Connects 2019). I say touchy, as in, how we touch each other's lives.
"Incivility" - you may have heard this term before - is not a word in my family's dialect, but we are all too familiar with the burden and stress of working with, living with, or just being around those who are disrespectful, discourteous, rude, impolite, or just straight offensive. I'm personally more affected by those who lack manners - those who let a door slam shut behind them as you too try to scurry in from the cold, perhaps carrying a baby, a diaper bag, and ushering along a toddler or two to boot. "Was it that hard to be aware of your surroundings and lend a hand by holding that door for 2 seconds?!" Pleases and Thank Yous. Buying someone a coffee when they waited the 10 minute line and then realized they forgot their wallet. SMILING. Saying "Have a nice day and thank you for your business" when a customer leaves your store.
There was a wave of success in this arena a number of years ago, brought on mostly by Hollywood. You may recall the "Pay it Forward" play adapted to a movie and subsequently into movements and foundations in the early 2000's. Unfortunately, like much in the entertainment spotlight, it has mostly faded from our everyday lives.
If you're thinking at this point that I'm being whiny or bringing personal life into business; where you think it may not belong, allow me to share that studies have shown these behaviors impact a myriad of things: employee productivity, their happiness and health, even turnover. Similar studies, in the medical field specifically, have uncovered the impact of someone's incivility can have the consequence of a doctor or nurse's lack of confidence, focus, and attention to detail. Errors in this field can obviously be disastrous and even life threatening.
The influence does not end with the person receiving the rude comment, or to the host of a meeting where attendees are late or distracted by texting or emailing on their phone. Witnesses of this behavior are also shown to be less tolerant, creative, and suffer in performance, team spirit and effort. Customers as well are less interested in your company when employees are seen being rude, even it it wasn't to them. So I ask if you see this in your business. If you perpetrate this behavior, either directly or indirectly. Don't believe it does no harm. To be clear, this doesn't mean you cannot disagree, that you cannot give someone negative feedback, or hold strong opinions and fight for them. It just means don't be an ***hole about it.
Lastly, let's realize that not holding people down is not at all the same as lifting them up. If you want happy healthy humans in your life, be it work or home, we must encourage one another, do nice things, be courteous and polite. I challenge you to try it, after all Progress Demands Change, and in this area change is sorely needed.
Here's a link to Christine Porath and Christine Pearson's Harvard Business Review article from a number of years ago, recently revitalized by a TED talk - https://hbr.org/2013/01/the-price-of-incivility