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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 December 3, 2019

    10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

    10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

    There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

    Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

    1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

    Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

    There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

    Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

    2. Pace Yourself

    Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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    Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

    Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

    3. You Can’t Please Everyone

    “I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

    You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

    Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

    4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

    Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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    We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

    Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

    5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

    “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

    No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

    We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

    6. It’s Not All About You

    You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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    It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

    7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

    No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

    We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

    Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

    8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

    That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

    Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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    Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

    9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

    Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

    The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

    10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

    We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

    When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

    Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

    This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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    Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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