From the Editor’s Keyboard

Why incivility is a setback

15 June 2016 at 02:21 | 2141 views


By Dr. Nanah Sheriff Fofanah-Sesay, PV Contributor, Virginia, USA.

Incivility is defined as a deviant behavior of low intensity that includes such behaviors as rudeness, discourteousness, being impolite, bullying, or displaying a lack of regard for others. The purpose of this article is to discuss why incivility is a setback among group members or at the workplace.

According to Porath and Pearson (2013), rudeness at work or among group members is rampant, and it is on the rise. In a survey conducted by Porath and Pearson that polled thousands of workers about how they are treated on the job, 98 percent reported experiencing uncivil behaviors, and half reported being treated rudely at least once a week.

Incivility among a group or in the workplace includes but not limited to leaders ridiculing their members or employees, constantly reminding members about their past failures, ignoring them or avoiding conversation with them, not crediting them or praising them for their efforts and achievements and addressing them in a bad mood or a demeaning manner, not taking into consideration others’ input, marginalizing group members or employees, and lack of cohesion from the group leader or supervisor.

When employees or group members are denied their basic rights from the leader, they tend to feel disgruntled due to the perception that management could do better. This could lead to direct frustrations and anger towards the company or group. These frustrations and anger could further manifest into lack of productivity by those affected, abusing the company’s resources or collaboration with other members who are experiencing the same mistreatment to further cause deterioration of the group or company.

According to Workforce Management (2016), many employees or group members who act out of anger cite not getting enough respect as the main reason behind their uncivil behaviors, this is closely followed by not getting enough recognition.
It is worth noting that different people have different levels of tolerance for mistreatment and ill-behaviors at the hands of group leaders or supervisors.

Experts have studied various levels of incivility:
- Verbal-passive-indirect- is silent treatment of co-workers or group-members, not answering calls or replying to e-mails and just simply avoiding contact.

- Verbal-active-indirect- involves propagating lies and rumors about group-members or co-workers and belittling others’ ideas.

- Verbal-active-direct-involves insulting people, giving condescending replies and yelling at group members or co-workers.

- Physical-passive-indirect-involves influencing others to stop cooperating with specific people in the group or workplace.

- Physical-active-direct-involves physically attacking people, verbally assaulting, sending cold non-verbal messages.

Civility is more than mere good manners, it is about walking the thin line between self-awareness and social-awareness. In other words, you have to appreciate the efforts of others, while also having an accurate assessment of your role in the grand scheme of things. In addition, it is a balance between pursuing self-interest and practicing self-control. In John Donne’s Meditation XV11, there is a line that states: "No man is an island." This couldn’t be truer especially in today’s world of global business and instant connectivity.

In conclusion, sustainability of a group or company can be achieved by adhering to civil behaviors while minimizing or eliminating uncivil behaviors such as gossiping, sabotaging individuals’ efforts, discriminating against people, not being sensitive to others’ needs, engaging in distracting activities, poor communication, and lack of respect for differences in others.

This article is dedicated to people around the world who are subjects and victims of incivility.