In The News: No Time to Be Nice at Work? Think Again.

on July 2 | in Communication, Human Resources, Leadership, Management | by | with No Comments

How we treat one another at work matters. In a recent article in The New York Times, Christine Porath, associate professor of management at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, examines the cost of incivility in the workplace and explains how a more polite environment can lead to better productivity.

What constitutes incivility? Incivility is characterized by gestures that subtly imply employees are unimportant and not deserving of respect. Actions may include walking away in the middle of a conversation, reminding subordinates of their relative inferiority through frequent references to their “titles,” publicly pointing out personality quirks, and other insensitive interactions which ultimately encourage employees to hold back. Of the hundreds of people Porath surveyed over 17 industries, more than 40 percent said they “have no time to be nice.” However, Porath says that respect is often communicated through nonverbal channels. Changing the way one conveys information does not require additional time and, as Porath explains, not doing so can be to the detriment of both the individual and organization.

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Why Civility Matters

Research shows that often employees working in environments characterized by incivility:

  • Are no longer able to process information as efficiently, and as a consequence, miss information directly in front of them.
  • Withdraw, lose conviction, and are less inclined to contribute.
  • Experience negative impacts on the immune system, which can eventually lead to major health problems such as cardiovascular disease, ulcers, and cancer.

Many professionals believe being polite is not necessary for getting ahead. But Porath shows exceptions rise in spite of, not because of, their incivility. Insensitivity can force compliance in the short term, but over the long haul it will ultimately sabotage team effectiveness at the moment of greatest need.   “Sooner or later, uncivil people sabotage their success — or at least their potential,” Porath writes. “Payback may come immediately or when they least expect it, and it may be intentional or unconscious.”

Read the entire article here:

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