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What is Unprofessional Behavior at Work?

Professional business manners at work

Civility represents the social norms and rules that must be followed in order to positively and productively relate with others. When people hear the word “civility,” words that come to mind include respect, courtesy, tolerance, consideration, and a rational approach to conflicts.

Behaviors that threaten positive and productive relations with other people, constitutes uncivil behavior. You can be uncivil without meaning too — for instance, you simply assume that what’s acceptable in one social context (at the bar or at home) is acceptable in your current work environment. Or,  you can be uncivil intentionally, for example you verbally attack a co-worker or use profane language when things don’t go your way.   What behaviors can be considered as uncivil? There are many. Below are just a few examples:

  • Bullying and intimidating co-workers: Threatening violence against co-workers who would report timesheet irregularities to management
  • Leveraging the power of cliques in order to ostracize particular individuals.
  • Employees speaking to subordinates in condescending tones.
  • Failing to acknowledge another person’s presence: Ignoring other people’s greetings and well-wishes; going past a co-worker without so much as a nod or a greeting.
  • Using abusive language:  Being verbally abusive or using crude or foul language
  • Gossiping: It’s uncivil behavior to both instigate and spread rumors against another person, regardless of whether the “news” seems accurate or relevant to the accomplishment of the task at hand.
  • Discounting employee contribution: Discounting means deliberately downplaying or ignoring the importance of another person’s statement or work contribution. For instance, some members in a team may tend to cut off a person that they do not like during a brainstorming session. Taking credit — or worse, compensation! — for work that you did not do is also an example of discounting behavior.
  • Sabotaging individual and company efforts:  Intentionally not informing a co-worker who is competition for a promotion of the exact time a client will arrive in the building.
  • Discriminating against a particular individual or group:  Attacking an individual based on characteristics such as race, gender, age, mental ability, and physical appearance.
  • Practicing insensitivity against co-workers’ needs: Inability to pay attention to the feelings and needs of others e.g. not giving a grieving co-worker time off before demanding workplace attendance. Insensitivity may also come in the form of engaging in activities distracting to co-workers, e.g. taking a cell phone calls while in the middle of a meeting, or not cleaning up the whiteboard as one leaves the training room.
  • Practicing poor etiquette in dealing with correspondence: Ignoring phone calls and emails, using company email to send private messages, and discussing individuals in mailing lists as if they are not there.
  • Taking, without asking, a co-worker’s food from the office refrigerator  or just taking things that are not yours.
  • Shifting the blame for your mistake to a co-worker.
  • Not saying you’re sorry when you really need to.
  • Ignoring e-mail or phone messages, browsing on iPhones or texting during meetings.
  • Leaving malfunctioning office equipment for the next user to fix.

Civility goes beyond good manners
Civility is about self-awareness and social-awareness. Incivility can significantly affect the company’s bottom line. And, incivility has a direct impact on a company’s productivity, sales, employee and customer retention among others. Civility, on the other hand, can improve all these areas considered as relevant in the running of a successful organization.

Reward: Motivation theories support that happy and relaxed workers are productive workers,  and willing to go the extra mile for their company.

Cost: Disrespect and inconsideration on a jobsite is highly stressful, and contributes to low workers’ morale, absenteeism and low employee retention. You can also include in that list, the amount of time management has to spend in finding workable solutions, human resource handling complaints, and time wasted in gossip and name-calling to save-face.

At your service,

Mercedes Alfaro's Signature




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One Response to What is Unprofessional Behavior at Work?

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