The Business Costs of Uncivil Behavior and What to Do About It
Christine Porath of Georgetown University recently visited the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University and gave a lecture sponsored by the center’s Business Ethics Partnership on her new book, Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace. While incivility in the workplace has always been seen as problematic, Porath’s research is showing its other dark side – its cost in business productivity.
Studies have shown that creativity and attention suffer when participants are exposed to uncivil behavior. Moreover, Porath’s research is showing that customers actively distance themselves from companies whose employees engage in incivility: “Not only do they think badly of those employees, but they generalize really dramatically to the organization and the brand.”
Porath also had advice for those who find themselves the target of incivility. Maintaining your general well-being with proper sleep, exercise, and diet were at the top of the list. She also suggested cultivating relationships outside of work, and looking for progress professionally in other ways such as pursuing a graduate degree.
For Porath, the key to addressing incivility is in the question: “Who do I want to be?” The more we bring this question front and center in our organizations and use it to guide our decisions, the closer we will be to creating thriving and civil workplaces.