Reduce Stress – Be Polite!

At the risk of sounding like an old grouch, do you think rudeness is on the increase? By which I mean lack of the social niceties like saying thank you, allowing people to pass, holding the door open for the person following behind, smiling not snarling, offering a coffee to a colleague and so on.

Workplace Incivility

What are the politeness levels like where you work? A certain level of cut and thrust is inevitable from time to time, but workplaces where rudeness has become the norm can be very stressful places to be. You’ll find yourself adopting similar ways of behaving almost by osmosis. An aura of low level hostility is ever present. It benefits no one. And you will take that low level hostility and rudeness home with you in the guise of headaches, aches and lethargy.

Take Action

The good news is by becoming aware of it you can change your own responses and that may well change how people then react to you. You can start a civility movement!

Tips for your Civility Movement:

  • Try to depersonalise the impolite comment or behaviour. Someone allowing a door to slam in your face may well have done that to anyone following them, it wasn’t actually aimed at you. So don’t take on board that bit of hostility but smile to yourself and leave it at the swinging door, (making sure you hold it open for the next person!)
  • Being kind and civil to others might mean slowing you pace a little. If you are usually rushing somewhere your attention is focussed on the future, where you are heading, not where you actually are. You may be missing all sorts of opportunities to smile and interact with others. You may be being uncivil even without realising it. Try to notice your surroundings, to be more present, and make sure your default expression is a smile, or at the very least not  a grimace. Try and get a glimpse of ourself in any mirrors as you go about your business. Relax the jaw.
  • Being civil means having an awareness of how other people might be affected by your actions. Bring your empathy skills into play and being polite and civil to others will be easy.
  • Watch your language. I don’t just mean uttering oaths (although that too) but be aware of how you communicate with others. Sometimes it’s appropriate to ask, not simply tell or instruct. Replacing ‘You should do so and so‘ with ‘What do you think about  doing it this way..?‘ is so much more inclusive and civil.
  • Banish sarcasm, however hysterical you think it is. Being sarcastic is actually quite aggressive behaviour and raises the stress levels of those who just don’t get it. Be clear and polite in your general communication.
  • Acknowledge other people’s efforts; not by saying thank you so often that it becomes meaningless but by really noticing what they have done and making an appropriate comment.

Good manners cost nothing but can give huge benefits, for everyone! You can’t directly change the behaviour of those around you only your own. But that can be a huge and quietly powerful force for positive change. And back to my original question, do I think rudeness is on the increase? Only on days when I am feeling grumpy! When I’m happy and smiley somehow everyone else seems to be too! Thus proving my point….

What do you do when faced with uncivil behaviour?

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Posted on November 23rd, 2010 by

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