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Has Workplace Incivility Impacted Your Life?

Has Workplace Incivility Impacted Your Life?

    My first boss disliked me so much I thought I had hurt one of her relatives.  She’d call me into her office and yell at me for dressing too casually, interrupting colleagues in meetings and other infractions real and imagined.  I didn’t know how to talk to her but I couldn’t stand the situation anymore, so I quit the job.

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    The next time I had to work with someone who was mean to me, I was stuck.  I really liked the job, and since he was an equal-opportunity offender, I knew his wrath wasn’t personal.  Others avoided him, but I sat down and asked how we could work better together.  My directness shocked him into better behavior from that point on.

    Incivility on the Rise

    In August, there was a flurry of press coverage around what the American Psychological Association deemed as an increase in “workplace incivility,” or a form of organizational deviance characterized by behaviors that violate respectful workplace norms – aka rudeness.

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    Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate’s Civility in America 2011 poll reported 43 percent of Americans as saying they’ve experienced incivility at work, and 38 percent as believing that the workplace is increasingly disrespectful.  Sixty-seven percent of respondents cited a critical need for civility training.

    It’s a Jungle Out There

    Civility training?  Is that a little extreme?  Not necessarily, as the workplace is undeniably rough these days.  Employees are doing the jobs of two, sometimes three people, and the environment is harried, stressful, and constantly changing.  Many haven’t received pay raises in a few years.  Unfortunately, employees are increasingly likely to take out their angst on each other. 

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    Psychological Consequences

    I recently had the chance to chat with Bob Sutton, a professor of management at Stanford University and the author of “The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t.” Bob assured me that he’d seen in his research that going through life angry causes long-term physical and mental problems, and that ridding oneself of dysfunctional conflict is a must.

    How to Break Free

    Bob explained that many difficult relationships are the result of a vicious cycle of offense and revenge, or one person trying to one-up the other.  He suggested that we stop trying to win, or get back at the other person for behaving this way.  We must not take the situation personally and look at it as another workplace problem we need to solve.

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    The most effective way to do this is to listen to the other person and put yourself in her shoes.  Determine what’s meaningful to her and help her find ways to get it.   If things have escalated to the point where every interaction is painful, take her to lunch and address the conflict proactively.  Tell her that the relationship isn’t going as well as you’d like, and ask what you can do to improve things.

    Your Self-Worth is Most Important

    Despite how hard you try, some difficult people will persist in their negative behavior.  If you constantly feel personally attacked and it starts to take a toll on your well-being, look for ways to get out of the situation.  As Bob said, some people are so toxic they’re not worth it.

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    Last Updated on July 3, 2020

    30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

    30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

    In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

    1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

    Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

    2. Focus on your breath

    Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

    3. Get organized and purge old items

    A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

    4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

    Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

    5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

    Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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    6. Smile more

    Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

    7. Don’t worry about the future

    As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

    8. Eat real food

    The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

    9. Choose being happy over being right

    Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

    10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

    Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

    11. Make use of filtering features on social media

    You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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    12. Get comfortable with silence

    When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

    13. Listen to understand, not to respond

    So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

    14. Put your troubles in a bubble

    Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

    15. Speak more slowly

    Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

    16. Don’t procrastinate

    Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

    17. Buy a coloring book

    Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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    18. Prioritize yourself

    You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

    19. Forgive others

    Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

    20. Check your expectations

    Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

    21. Engage in active play

    Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

    22. Stop criticizing yourself

    The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

    23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

    Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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    24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

    Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

    25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

    Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

    26. Manage your money

    Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

    27. Stop trying to control everything

    Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

    28. Practice affirmations

    Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

    29. Get up before sunrise

    Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

    30. Be yourself

    Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

    Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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