How Civility Can Improve Your Team

How Civility Can Improve Your Team

What society is gaining in terms of knowledge and technological advancement, it seems to be losing out on basic social values. Incivility and the lack of basic social values directly impact the bottom line of an organization. An uncivil environment is not conducive to getting work done, leading to unhappy clients. In some cases, it can lead to abuse and harassment within the team. In an uncivil environment, team leaders infringe on subordinates’ personal space and gossip among the team members are the norm.

Civility goes beyond good manners. Civility is about effective self-awareness and influences social awareness. To be effective practitioners of civility, team members need to recognize their role in the team and develop an appreciation for the unique contribution of each team member. Civility requires a delicate balance for team members between pursuing their own interests and allowing the other team members to pursue their interests as well. For this reason, effective programs on civility should be prefaced by a training workshop on attentiveness to self and others. Team building activities will also encourage the team to work together and learn how civility towards each other helps with the attainment of a common goal.

It is vital for your team members and team leaders to be aware of and practice civility. They should understand why it is essential to the success of the team. In this article, we will help you to introduce your team to the concept of civility and the idea that even a little consideration can go a long way. To better understand the concept of civility, we will first look at what uncivil behavior looks like.

Uncivil Behavior

Civility is associated with words such as respect, courtesy, tolerance and consideration. Uncivil behavior is behavior that threatens positive and productive relations within the team. Uncivil behavior is not always intentional but can also happen unintentionally. The following are some behaviors that are considered uncivil.

  • Failing to acknowledge another team member’s presence.
  • Using abusive language.
  • Gossiping.
  • Downplaying or ignoring the importance of another team member’s statement or contribution.
  • Bullying and intimidating other team members.
  • Sabotaging individual and team efforts.
  • Discrimination against a particular individual or group.
  • Practicing insensitivity against team member’s needs.
  • Practicing poor etiquette in dealing with correspondence.

Basic Team Etiquette to Promote Civility

Team etiquette refers to unwritten rules or norms of acceptable conduct which team members are encouraged to uphold. Establishing team etiquette helps to promote civility in general throughout the team environment.

Greetings

Formal Greetings – Regardless of a team member’s rank, there should always be an acknowledgement of a person’s presence. Greetings are best followed by an expression of interest in the person greeted.

Informal Greetings – Where familiarity is already established among team members, informal greetings can promote positive working relationships within a team. Greetings such as “hi” and “hello” can put team members at ease with each other. Smiles, taps on the back, a handshake and a high five are also informal ways of developing civility in the team. It is crucial though, to never assume familiarity unless specifically invited.

Respect

Respect is often seen as the basis on which civility rests. Respect refers to positive esteem for another and demands deferential and considerate behavior. Respect is not just for higher ranking team members but should be shown to every member of the team. Respecting a person means you understand a person’s worth, and as a result you treat him or her ethically. It should not be related to their work performance; all people are deserving of respect regardless of their contribution to the team.

The following are some practical ways to show respect:

  • Practice active listening and give attention to the person communicating.
  • Respect the property of other team members.
  • Respect the beliefs and faith of other team members.
  • Respect the time of your team mates.

Involvement in Team Activities

Team members should be encouraged to know the activities planned for the team and to participate in those activities. Involvement requires more from team members than just getting the job done. Involvement requires them to be constantly on the look-out for ways to be actively involved in the team set-up. It encourages team members to use initiative and take up opportunities to better the team as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

Political Correctness

Political Correctness is a way of addressing and behaving towards other people that take particular care not to cause offense. It is a way of positively reframing statements that box some members of the population into negative stereotypes.

How to Create Greater Civility on Your Team

The following are some recommended ways of creating greater civility in your team:

  • Create, communicate and enforce policies regarding civil behavior in the team.
  • Screen potential team members for a tendency towards uncivil behavior.
  • Provide your team with ongoing education and training on civility.
  • Increase accountability and transparency within the team.

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