When I was little, my parents made it their business to instill in me the importance of minding my manners. In fact, any attempts on my part to behave in any way that was deemed less than civil, resulted in my having to make amends without passing go or collecting my weekly allowance. To them, civility, good manners and consideration for others were pretty important components of a successful life. Experience has proven them to be right, at least for me.
Some may believe that civility is a minor consideration in the workplace, especially now when we are pressured by time, having to do more with less and plagued by looming deadlines and demands. Who has time to be polite? Who has time to say please or thank you? And, who has time to think about how our behaviour is affecting those around us as long as we’re getting the job done?
It is my contention, though, that civility has just about everything to do with creating workplaces in which people can do their best work and businesses can thrive.
Leaders who operate from a platform of good manners and civility know that:
Everyone likes to feel acknowledged and important
I started my work life in the mailroom of a bank. My job was to open mail and deliver it to its intended recipients in a department of approximately three hundred people. Some of the department managers received their mail with good grace, responding with a well-placed thank you and a smile. When this happened, I actually felt like I belonged, that I was doing something that had value. It was a small gesture but always with a big result and a willingness on my part to do more for those managers who had taken the time to acknowledge my existence despite my lowly placement on the hierarchical ladder.
Successful collaboration is not possible without it.
Collaboration is a key word in today’s workplace. When we work together to achieve a common, mutually beneficial goal, it is often the case that impatience will raise its’ ugly head and start goading us into saying things we might not otherwise entertain. It is at these times when a good dose of civility is required. Rude and self-indulgent remarks simply get in the way of achieving a satisfactory outcome. In this context, I like what Wikipedia has to say about civility. “Civility gives us the means to disagree without being disagreeable” That kind of says it all doesn’t it?
How they treat their employees will reflect, for good or ill, outside the organization
This just makes good sense. Those who work in an atmosphere where good manners are the norm will, for the most part respond to their customers and others, in kind. There’s nothing complicated about that. And, for some reason it is my guess that customers are more willing to part with their money if they feel they are being treated with respect. Go figure.
Civility is key to building relationships and reputations through Social Media
Today, workplaces extend beyond our walls and borders through technology. Every day, we send e-mails, text messages and tweets to people, some of whom we have never met face-to-face. To me, civility is an important part of communicating with others over the Internet. After all, when we say something on e-mail, facebook or Twitter it gets captured everywhere. We can’t take it back and it shapes the image we create of ourselves which can either reflect who we really are or cast a shadow over us that will be difficult to overcome
So, if I have any advice to give it would be this. Mind your Ps and Qs. The world is watching.