There is no single place guiltier of incivility today than the office. Not every office should be tarred with this brush, but rude behavior has infiltrated the workplace to the point where a study was recently published claiming those people who were ruder were actually paid higher salaries than politer co-workers.
There are definite benefits to adopting more respectful behavior in the office, including reduced stress and an improved bottom line. Despite the fact that the soft skills associated with incivility and rudeness are supposed to be learned in one’s early childhood, this often does not occur. Oddly enough, companies are very reticent to invest the small amount of money it would take to bring their employees up to snuff.
By following a few simple guidelines, an amazing transformation can take place in an office. Tasks can be accomplished more efficiently, costs can be reduced and profits can improve. The effort required is actually less than what is being exerted presently.
First of all, remember you are always representing your company. Whether clients are present or not, respectful behavior of all associates and colleagues is necessary. This requires no special effort, but it does mean raising one’s awareness of one’s actions, both physical and verbal. How we connect with and affect those around us matters.
Respect one another’s boundaries. Heavy perfume, smelly foods, and loud music or conversations leech into other people’s immediate space. We all have different likes and dislikes. Err on the side of caution when in shared space. Many offices have policies in place as guidelines. Follow them.
The business world is becoming a more level playing field when it comes to gender. This does not mean that it is demeaning to female associates if a man offers a woman a chair, to open a door or to assist her in putting on her coat. Chivalry should be considered a partner of respect, not a challenge to it. If a man offers a woman a chair, she should say thank you and carry on with business.
One’s attire at the office is important. Dress down Fridays has outlived any positive effects they were intended to have. The idea of taking someone seriously in a business environment dressed in jeans and sneakers is preposterous. I know of many people, including me, who will not schedule an appointment on Fridays at a law office or bank where casual attire is the policy.
Finally, studies have shown that working in an environment where respect is the required norm; where bullying is banned; and where constructive criticism trumps destructive commentary, that cognitive thinking can thrive and productivity soars.