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Address ‘quiet politeness’ at work

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

While civility and respect are must-haves in the workplace, “quiet politeness” can actually hurt teamwork.

Quiet politeness—when co-workers refrain from speaking up because they don’t want to offend others—can keep them from pointing out problems with ideas or plans. Three tips to prevent quiet politeness from wreaking havoc on your team:

  • Demand honesty. Establish a truth policy for your team that states that everyone must share their feedback—tactfully and kindly—when they see the team or co-workers going down the wrong path.
  • Share negative feedback. You may not know when others are holding back, but you do know when you are. Be fair and respectful, but also be willing to speak up when you see a problem.
  • Encourage people to accept criticism. Ask employees to see criticism as an opportunity to learn, and encourage them to accept it without becoming defensive.

— Adapted from “Want Successful Office Communication? Avoid This,” Kevin Daum, Inc.,

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