Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Don't Vent!

Apparently, American businesses are suffering an epidemic of incivility. Employees are impolite, discourteous and disrespectful to each other. The result is more drama and less focus on the job at hand.

Companies may be reluctant to admit their offices are anything less than pleasant, but incivility—think belittling barbs or gruff responses—can lead to lost productivity, creativity and talent. As employees who are forced to do more work with fewer resources become more stressed, the rudeness is ramping up. So firms are urging staffers to play nice.

Uncivil behavior can "spread like a virus across teams," says Elizabeth Holloway, a professor of psychology at Antioch University and civility consultant.

Some 96% of workers say they have experienced uncivil behavior and 98% have witnessed it, according to a continuing study by Georgetown University and Thunderbird School of Global Management of nearly 3,000 participants.

How can people overcome their bad manners?

First, don’t vent. It may not be the answer, but it is a good place to start.

Second, practice kindness. Make gestures that show care, concern and respect. You do not need to share your most intimate secrets, but you do need to smile, to greet each other and to offer an open hand of friendship.

Incivility is a bad habit and bad habits can be overcome by replacing them with good habits.

Ask yourself this: why is incivility running rampant in American business.

Might it not been caused by our therapy culture. The media is constantly telling us that we must express our feelings, openly and honestly. Otherwise, we are warned, the bottled up feelings will make us sick.

When they act uncivilly, people are following a rule laid down by the therapy culture.

The therapy culture has encouraged people to vent. It has told us that venting makes us authentic.

Better yet, this culture has told us that a good life is a life full of drama. It portrays harmonious relationships as a sign of repression.

It should go without saying that good manners and courtesy will also serve you well in your private life. You ought not just to put them on when you arrive at the office and take them off when you leave.


Sam L. said...

Hey, guys! Let's insult each other and fight! We'll feel better later.

LordSomber said...

I think people should vent, just not at the office. Do it on break, or after work. Channel it.

That said, sometimes the firm hand of gruffness is needed to hold co-workers accountable for their quality of work. Similar to coaching, in some cases.

Friendship is not the answer. (Though friendship may evolve from years of working together.) People already take criticism of their work too personally as it is. Coming from a new "friend" would just make people take it worse.
As I always say, "Criticize the work, not the person."

Perhaps we need more of Prof. Althouse's "cruel neutrality."

Anonymous said...

You may have missed the point. The source of venting is not so much "therapy culture" as an overworked/underpaid culture. Venting may be the only source of control when everything else is out of your control. Just my two cents.