Blog 4

Be Nice


I read the blog post titled “The hidden costs of letting workers act like jerks,” which discussed civility in a work place. This post mentions studies performed by researchers Christine Porath and Amir Erez on how uncivil behavior can affect the creativity and performance of individuals. They discovered that people who experience rudeness do not solely retaliate against that single individual, but they have a tendency to attack the company as well. They often do not distinguish between the offender and the company as a whole because they feel that the company is responsible for allowing someone like that to work for them. As one may assume this creates many problems not only for the individuals working, but also for the company. Many people who are involved in an uncivil situation have a tendency to be less efficient and creative with their work resulting in under performance for the company.

When reading this blog post it made me reflect on my past two summers when I interned at Boeing. I was in a real world-working environment, working side-by-side with individuals who had way more experience. However, I was treated as though I was an equal and my manager expected nothing less from me even though I was an intern.  On the other hand, I always tried to be courteous by saying ‘hello’ as I walked past an office or never have my cell phone around when talking to a coworker.  Even though, I tired to be polite and professional, there were some people that did not do so. There were times where I was sitting in a meeting quietly taking notes when cells phones would ring or people would be texting and emailing as someone was presenting. As the blog post states and I agree, this action is seen as a lack of respect and suggests whatever is being said is not important. I have seen presenters get distracted and lose their train of thought because of such behavior. By the second summer I became closer with many of my coworkers and was shocked when I heard that there was conflicts between certain people. I heard so many stories one included how individuals wrote anonymous letters to this one individual saying she did not deserve her promotion and only received it because she knew the boss, etc. I was taken by surprise to know that even in the working world people are uncivil with one another especially when they are working in such a close community. This woman had trouble focusing on her work knowing things were being said and written about her behind her back. This was a fairly small team that everyone needed to interact and rely on one another for certain tasks. It would be very difficultly to succeed in an uncivil environment. Luckily, all the drama passed within a few weeks, but still those weeks were very difficult.

Common courtesy is something that is very valuable especially in a working environment. Something as simple as a ‘good morning’ or a ‘great job’ can go along way and be very beneficial to all parties involved. Also, technology continues to develop at a rapid pace, but to sacrifice civility creates problems. By doing so, we begin to damage our personal relationships as well as the goals we set and plan to achieve in the work place.

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9 thoughts on “Be Nice

  1. Claire, I can relate to your naivety towards the conflict going on within your office. This summer I worked at our family business, so I knew everyone there. I only realized that there was conflict between some of the people about halfway through the summer. Once I found out, I felt like I was back in high school with the girls bickering about everything. It also put me in an awkward situation when I went home and my dad(the boss) asked how everything was going. I agree that courtesy in the work place is very important, because drama can get in the way of people’s jobs, just like you described the women who was being talked about had trouble concentrating. I also think that conflict can be extremely productive if it is channeled in the right way. Petty personal issues should be avoided, but conflict that adds to better solutions in business decisions is essential.

  2. Claire,
    I used to think that when we entered the grown up world that all immaturities would magically go away. I really wish that it was true! I was not surprised by your post regarding your personal experiences, because I too have seen such “cattiness” within a professional setting. Unfortunately my mother had to deal with unprofessional behavior that has ultimately led to her leaving her practice in October. Do you think that people’s behaviors are developed over time as they become more comfortable within their positions, or do you think that some people just simply lack respect?

  3. Brigit, I think it has a little bit to do with both. As people become more comfortable and move up in the company, they feel more entitled. Therefore, they assume it is fine if they respond to emails during presentations and meetings. On the other hand, I think that some people simply lack respect. Neglecting to say something as simple as a ‘hello’ or ‘how are you’ can be seen as rude. I feel that it is such a small gesture that takes little to no time out of your day, yet makes a difference.

  4. Claire, I agree with your post that common courtesy in the work place is beneficial to all parties and employees involved. A good workplace culture, means a lot for the company environment. Companies with staff that get along with each other and respect each other will feel more confident working with each other and trusting each other in the future. It seems that the issues you mentioned might have been things that could have been improved by the H.R. department of Boeing, but it never got to that point, or HR was never reached out to. A cohesive company is very important to a companies success and it is unfortunate but also eye opening that you got to see such petty drama in your internship, because it shows you that social immaturity is something people have to deal in all stages of life, and is important to know how to deal with it and it seems like you dealt with it well.

  5. You touched upon people using their phones to text and email during presentations suggesting that what is being said is unimportant. I agree that it is uncourteous and should be avoided but is something many of us fall victim to. Think how many times you have seen people fire of a text, email, or check Facebook in class. Many of us justify it to ourselves that it could be important or that you were still listening even if that isn’t the case.

    I recently listened to Sherry Turkle’s TED video which reminded me of your blog (http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together.html). In it she argues that people feel more connected than ever but are in fact more alone than ever.

  6. I love this! I have also experienced the same confusion when I entered the real-world workplace, confronted with petty arguments, name-calling, backstabbing, rumors and overall rudeness. I really liked how you mentioned that this low standard of courtesy not only affects people emotionally, but affects work performance as well. Every organization grows its own culture-how people treat each other daily, what is acceptable or not etc. It is clear that there needs to be a higher standard of manners, or our mental health and our work performance will suffer.

  7. I think that the issues are certainly part of how the firm works internally. I find that firms often neglect to think through all of the interactions we have with one another as employees in the scope of what we need to accomplish on a day to day basis. There is a lot of communicating that goes on and helping each other out that doesn’t get document and I would argue some people feel like they put more in to a company, help out beyond their pay stub suggests and work harder than they are compensated. I personally think companies don’t realize how much people do to accomplish their tasks.

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