Tag Archives: civility

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Does Politeness Make a Difference?

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Does an investment in politeness make a difference? In the workplace, is being polite taken for granted? Will it help you navigate the C-Suite, the tight circle of middle management, or the front line?

When you ask for more information, a return telephone call, or bring a helpful conversation to a close, are you polite?


Do you say, “please” or “thank you”?

When we say, “please” the conversation is different. It is not implying a command, it is asking for participation. It suggests that participation is known to be voluntary and with respect it is being sought.

In the voicemail message, “Please give me a call when you get a chance.” is very different from, “Give me a call when you get this message.”

“Would you mind giving me your email address?” is different from, “What’s your email address?” One is much more civil, it is respectful and considerate. The other feels more like a command.

People often want to thank one another by saying, “Thanks.” Email signatures are often preceded with, “Thanks,”. Is that the closing to a command or a meaningful voice of gratitude?

I will often close an email message with, “Thanks so much!” I believe it makes the attempt at gratitude more striking.


In the workplace, giving commands typically is not recognized as being considerate or respectful. Even when the lines of authority suggest that it may be okay.

Employees at all levels often feel that resources are scarce.

What is the most precious resource for many workplace professionals? Time.

When we communicate with politeness it suggests that participation is recognized as optional, and for that, we appreciate you.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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workplace civility

Workplace Civility, Does Your Organization Have It?

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There are those organizations that don’t believe they need workplace civility. Often this is because they don’t recognize that there are differences between their culture and what the front runners know to be more civil.

While workplace civility is subjective, the results are often reflected in employee performance. Employee performance is reflected on the income statement. It may be hard to develop a metric for civility. However, it is easy to develop a metric for other areas of human performance.

The organization that practices civility is diverse. Not because they claim that they are, but because there is evidence that they are. Evidence would include employment of protected classes. However, that is really just the beginning and may be viewed as a technicality, not a true reflection of organizational culture.

Civil Organizational Cultures

Civil and diverse organizations work hard to keep everything and everyone together. Their habits are consistent with what they preach. Conflict is well managed. Patience is a core value, and if you can’t handle what is happening, a team member will be sure to help.

An underlying philosophy may be that we help each other do well and that is why we are growing.

Room for Improvement

An organizational culture lacking in civility will see things a little bit differently. They often have principles and core values connected with only the strong survive. Rewards are only at the top, bottom feeders are accepted as feeders only, and are feed just enough to prevent starvation.

There is harmful conflict. Those who can’t handle it, are not helped or reinforced, they are told to get out of the way and ridiculed for short-comings. Only the favorites or those who navigate organizational politics well are long-term survivors.

Workplace Civility

Certainly, organizations need all the demographic evidence. Evidence such as hiring across all classes including those that are protected. Yes, they’ll have the diversity posters in the lunch room and near the Human Resources offices, and of course, they’ll express no tolerance for harassment or bullying.

They’ll insist on safety, and they’ll understand that the person who occupies space at the workplace the longest is not necessarily accomplishing the most.

Meal breaks are honored, or better yet, insisted upon. Not because the organization feels that they should, but because they know it makes human performance better and the people healthier. The idea of skipping lunch means I’m working harder doesn’t apply.

Vacations are embraced, generosity is demonstrated, and the importance of family is well supported.

None of this means the people don’t work hard and none of it suggests that there is room for slackers. It is only a reflection of civility. Does your organization practice workplace civility?

A good question is, “What is your culture?”  A better question is, “What is your culture when you think no one is watching?”


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+

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cost of rudeness

Can You Afford The High Cost Of Rudeness?

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Rudeness, we might label it as disrespect, blame it on generational differences, or reference it as extremely poor customer service. Have you thought about the high cost of rudeness in your workplace?

There seems to be a growing trend with rude behaviors. Some might argue that this trend exists mostly because bad behaviors are widely accepted, or at least that they are often widely ignored.

Across the years there has been a lot of blame thrown at bad bosses. Certainly if workplace leaders exhibit rude behavior it can negatively impact employees. Christine Porath pointed out some of these in her 2015 article, “No Time to Be Nice at Work.”

Are there additional impacts associated with workplace rudeness?

{ This article originally appeared as a post I wrote for the New York City, SHRM Chapter. The article reached the top spot for popularity on that blog during May-June 2017. As I write this it is still sits in the top spot. Here is the link to the NYC SHRM article: Rudeness Costs, Can You Afford The Price? }

Learned Behaviors

Rudeness is a learned behavior. We might consider our social interactions, things we witness in public places, and of course the cultural behaviors of our workplace.

We see it on television shows that resemble cartoons, reality TV programming, and many of the modern day news channels. The same is true for social media where rudeness might sell with likes and clicks, thumbs up, or by going viral.

Rudeness seems to sell, and often sell big.

Cost of Rudeness

Does it eventually cost your business or organization? Yes, some of the costs are buried in employee turnover, loss of customers, and an unfavorable reputation.

There might be other costs too. In one recent example, a major news network encountered at least several harassment suits from employees, former employees, or contributors. True or not true, settled in or out of court, there is a price to be paid.

In any business, the behaviors associated with the work environment or customer experience has a price.

For most organizations it starts with the culture. How an organization communicates, interacts with customers, and treats its employees will have a lot to do with the behaviors that are replicated.

These costs can be minimized with employee training programs that target improving workplace civility, building a customer service culture, and developing better leaders.

Affording the Price

There is always a price to be paid. You can utilize prevention and maintenance that keeps your culture in check, or hope that things will never breakdown.

If you believe rudeness costs, prevention and maintenance seem like the logical choice.

If you don’t believe it, you might want to consider what happened with United Airlines or Allen Kovac before you make your final decision on your budget.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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