Asking for Civility in the Workplace

In the workplace, it’s easy to have different personalities and attitudes that can create a hostile work environment. As humans, it’s in our nature to defend ourselves and what we think is right, but this isn’t always the best attitude to have when in a work environment. When a work environment becomes hostile due to issues with coworkers, issues over something someone said, or someone’s feelings being hurt, it can create an environment where no one wants to work or feels safe — ultimately decreasing productivity and detracting from your corporate culture.

When Civility is Missing from the Workplace

Incivility is defined as a lack of respect for someone else’s feelings, their possessions or property, and includes various actions, including things we may not consider, such as leaving a shared workspace messy before someone else comes in.

Health, Germs & Illness

Another example that is extremely prevalent in today’s world is in regard to the increased awareness of and concerns with health issues, germs, and illness. Incivility could include not respecting someone’s wishes to be socially distanced or wear a mask when required. It is important to recognize that everyone has their own preferences, and it’s important to show respect to those preferences.

Work Styles

People have different work styles. While some people are more creative and conceptual, others are very detailed in their work and analytical. When working on a project with others with different work styles, it is important to respect their preferences and find a way that compromises to suit all team members while also accomplishing your objectives.

Using the Assertive Ask

When it comes to civility in the workplace, it’s important to have meaningful conversations to avoid any issues going forward. At ProKnowledge, we recommend the “Assertive Ask” to address the issues directly without escalating the situation.

An Assertive Ask Involves Three Components:

  1. Talk about the action and how it affected you.
  2. Ask the individual to cooperate or do something differently. 
  3. Show your appreciation for it.

This method communicates your needs in a respectful way that doesn’t appear as an attack that will result in defensiveness. For an Assertive Ask to be effective, you don’t want to sound angry, so if necessary, take time to regulate your emotions. While this may seem challenging, it will ensure your Assertive Ask makes a lasting impact.

Dealing with incivility in the workplace isn’t easy. Conversations to address incivility can be uncomfortable but are critical to maintaining a comfortable, productive workplace. An Assertive Ask is an effective way to address your needs in a respectful and impactful manner. To learn more about Assertive Asks and how you can maintain civility in the workplace, listen to our PK Pods episode on the topic.