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Cultivate civility

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Manage enough employees and you’ll eventually oversee rude people. They may leave trash in the break room, butt in front of others in the cafeteria line and sneeze all over.

If you ignore it, incivility might spread. Yet you don’t want to come across as a prude or a parent.

Here’s how to guide boors to shape up:

Enforce equal treatment. Incivility tends to increase if a team includes part-timers, temps, consultants or subcontractors who may not appreciate the corporate culture. With weaker ties to the organization, they might not feel bound by standards of etiquette.

Respond to rudeness consistently, regardless of the instigator’s status. Call the person aside and mention that such behavior falls outside of what’s acceptable in your workplace. Don’t brush aside lapses by contract workers. Unless they improve, their bad manners may worsen or spread.

Set an extreme example. Employees look to you as a model. If you interrupt a lot, crunch on chips while someone’s speaking or brush by workers as if they’re invisible, others will follow suit.

Always exhibit impeccable manners. If you catch yourself acting inappropriately, don’t clam up and hope no one notices. Instead, say, “I’m sorry about that” and make amends.

Raise awareness. If an employee behaves badly, don’t lecture. Lacing your comments with “should” or “ought” can trigger anger, embarrassment or resistance.

Instead, use tact. Say, “I’d like to make you aware of something” or “You may not realize that ...” Speak with the employee privately in the tone of a confidant, not a mortified boss.

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