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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 March 5, 2021

    Science Says People Who Talk To Themselves Are Geniuses

    Science Says People Who Talk To Themselves Are Geniuses

    I talk a lot to myself. It helps me to keep my concentration on the activity on hand, makes me focus more on my studies, and gives me some pretty brilliant ideas while chattering to myself; more importantly, I produce better works. For example, right now, as I am typing, I am constantly mumbling to myself. Do you talk to yourself? Don’t get embarrassed admitting it because science has discovered that those who talk to themselves are actually geniuses… and not crazy!

    Research Background

    Psychologist-researcher Gary Lupyan conducted an experiment where 20 volunteers were shown objects, in a supermarket, and were asked to remember them. Half of them were told to repeat the objects, for example, banana, and the other half remained silent. In the end, the result shown that self-directed speech aided people to find the objects faster, by 50 to 100 milliseconds, compared to the silent ones.

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    “I’ll often mutter to myself when searching for something in the refrigerator or the supermarket shelves,” said Gary Lupyan.

    This personal experience actually made him conduct this experiment. Lupyan, together with another psychologist, Daniel Swigley, came up with the outcomes that those to talk to oneself are geniuses. Here are the reasons:

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    It stimulates your memory

    When you are talking to yourself, your sensory mechanism gets activated. It gets easier on your memory since you can visualize the word, and you can act accordingly.[1]

    It helps stay focused

    When you are saying it loud, you stay focused on your task,[2] and it helps you recognise that stuff immediately. Of course, this only helps if you know what the object you are searching looks like. For example, a banana is yellow in colour, and you know how a banana looks like. So when you are saying it loud, your brain immediately pictures the image on your mind. But if you don’t know what banana looks like, then there is no effect of saying it loud.

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    It helps you clarify your thoughts

    Every one of us tends to have various types of thoughts. Most make sense, while the others don’t. Suppose you are furious at someone and you feel like killing that person. Now for this issue you won’t run to a therapist, will you? No, what you do is lock yourself in a room and mutter to yourself. You are letting go off the anger by talking to yourself, the pros and cons of killing that person, and eventually you calm down. This is a silly thought that you have and are unable to share it with any other person. Psychologist Linda Sapadin said,[3]

    “It helps you clarify your thoughts, tend to what’s important and firm up any decisions you are contemplating.”

    Featured photo credit: Girl Using Laptop In Hotel Room/Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

    Reference

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