In their book, The Cost of Bad Behaviour, researchers Christine Porath and Christine Pearson describe the negative impact of uncivil behaviour on employee motivation and productivity. They define incivility as behaviour that is “disrespectful, inconsiderate, tactless, insensitive, uncaring or rude”. As an executive coach, I sometimes hear from clients about the toll this type of behaviour can take on organizations.
Improving general leadership behaviour and organizational culture is certainly critical. But these are longer term solutions that require sustained effort on many fronts. This is about what YOU can do NOW to stay focused and not be distracted by the poor behaviour of others. Clearly, if the bad behaviour escalates to more serious aggression, threats and intimidation, others will need to become involved.
What not to do:
1. Imagine the perpetrators sitting on a toilet seat with their pants down.
Well, you could, but you might laugh at the wrong time.
2. Plot their downfall in a “revenge is a dish best served cold” scenario.
Creative though this is, you can get stuck wasting your valuable time.
3. Turn uncivil yourself, spread gossip, and get back at them through sabotage and other means.
You risk becoming part of the problem, not the solution.
What to try:
1. Make sure you are taking care of yourself.
When you are stressed and overwhelmed, it is easy to misinterpret a situation.
2. Let go of the ‘scalded cat’ and the ‘poor me’ feelings.
It is very satisfying sometimes to feel outraged or to focus on how hurt you are, but it can get in the way of making the right decisions.
3. Ask yourself if there is some reason for their behaviour -- what do they think, feel or want.
Stepping out of your own feelings and into theirs can help you see more objectively what else may be going on.
4. Think about who you want to be in the situation.
You can get caught up in other people’s dramas unless you take time to think about what is most important for you.
5. Carefully consider all the available choices you have.
Often we feel victimized and don’t think through what options are possible to deal with the situation. Sometimes choosing to do nothing is a good decision.
6. Oh yes...and breathe.
It helps to reduce the heat of the moment and gives you time to think.
I would be interested in hearing how others deal with incivility in the workplace.