Archive for September, 2019

Yesterday I listened to a fascinating podcast about civility in the workplace. (Dan Harris, 10% Happier, Christine Porath guest.) I looked at the author’s website and she has a TED talk, and I also found this handy short workbook about building positive workplace culture, done for SHRM.  It’s a corporate-y kind of thing that small businesses don’t get around to, and there’s interesting food for thought in there!  So, for fun inspirational reading.   It’s about 20 magazine-formatted (so big fonts and side-bars) actual pages of reading, in shorter sections, so no need to be intimidated by the 52 page document size.
Christine (how she refers to herself on her website) has done research that shows people’s cognitive ability on tests actually declines after experiencing, and even just witnessing, incivility.  Incivility is contagious.  There are some things a company can do to build a better workplace. She mentioned a hospital (she seems to work with lots of hospitals) that encouraged a 10-5 policy – within 10 feet of someone you make eye-contact and smile, and within 5 feet you greet them.  I’ve seen Zingerman’s promote a 10-4 policy that’s the same thing. In the hospitality business, mood matters!
In the above SHRM document there’s one company’s “Code of Civility” and it includes things like “we greet and acknowledge each other”, “we say please and thank you”, “we acknowledge the contributions of others”.  I was once on a board that developed a set of “agreements” that we went over at the start of every meeting, and then checked ourselves on how we did at the end of every meeting.  It was similar – I do remember “We start on time, and we end on time” and “We come prepared to the meetings, having read the materials”.  I suspect at least one board I’m on would make sure “we don’t interrupt” goes on the list. I’m aware I do it but I still have this felt sensation that it’s “joining in”. Feel free to help me get over that!   Other aspects of civility: sharing credit, taking blame, not belittling or putting others down, sharing information, being responsive.
In the article Christine notes
Each small act of kindness and respect contributes to a cycle that fosters greater civility among the people in one’s network. Giving works the same way. Giving thanks, acknowledgement, attention and feedback is civility in its finest form. (p 52)
She also mentions the Google studies that “Psychological Safety” was one of the top attributes of high-performing teams – people felt free to make suggestions and take risks without being attacked or ridiculed. Dan Harris, in the podcast, noted that after a painful 360-degree review, one change he made was to more explicitly NOT walk around looking at his phone but make eye contact and greet people. Not only did it make others appreciate him more, he noticed that he, himself, felt better, too!
Lots of good fodder for humanizing workplaces – including a quiz!  See “Assess Yourself” at the bottom of her page.  Don’t worry, Dan Harris generously shared that he only got a 66%, and Christine says she’s far from perfect, herself.  We’re all work in progress.
You can find another quiz, focused on workplaces, at:

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