#Nextchat: Creating a Culture of Civility in the Workplace



“Who do you want to be? It’s a simple question and, whether you know it or not, you’re answering it every day through your actions. This one question will define your professional success more than any other because how you show up and treat people means everything.” ~ Christine Porath

Rude comments, discourteous behaviors and heightened tensions. As if HR professionals didn’t already have enough on their plates, they must now contend with the growing prevalence of incivility in their organizations.

While incivility has always existed inside and outside the workplace, many believe it has reached crisis levels—and it’s causing a lot of harm in the workplace.

Left unchecked, incivility will result in lower levels of morale, engagement and productivity, and retention rates will be negatively impacted as well.

In the HR Magazine article “How to Create a Culture of Civility,” Christine Porath, an associate professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and author of Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace (Grand Central Publishing, 2017), says that “while one-quarter of the people surveyed in 1998 reported being treated rudely at work at least once a week, that figure rose to 55 percent in 2011 and 62 percent in 2016.” 

What do people want most from the leaders in their workplace? In her TED Talk “Why Being Respectful to your Co-Workers is Good for Business,” Porath says, “we took data from over 20,000 employees around the world, and we found the answer was simple: respect. Being treated with respect was more important than recognition and appreciation, useful feedback, and even opportunities for learning. The key for leaders is to be agile and mindful in all of the moments and touch points they have with employees every day.”


Where do you start? Porath says small things can make a big difference—thanking people, sharing credit, listening attentively, humbly asking questions, acknowledging others and smiling all have an impact.

Civility lifts people. Incivility chips away at people and their performance and potential. “What I know from my research,” Porath says, “is that when we have more-civil environments, we’re more productive, creative, helpful and happy. Each one of us can be more mindful and can take actions to lift others up around us. In every interaction, think: Who do you want to be?”

How do you handle incivility when it arises, and what are you doing to encourage and foster a culture of respect and civility in your workplace?

Please join @shrmnextchat at 3:00 p.m. ET on October 31 for #Nextchat with special guest Christine Porath (@PorathC). We'll chat about the rise of incivility and how organizations can encourage cultures of kindness and respect.

Q1. How do you define incivility in the workplace, and when does such behavior cross the line into harassment?

Q2. Why do you think incivility is growing in our workplaces—and society—at such a rapid rate? 

Q3. What examples of incivility have you witnessed or personally experienced in your workplace, and how did you handle them?

Q4. How does your organization handle complaints of incivility from employees or customers?

Q5. Political conversation can spark incivility in the workplace—especially around elections such as the upcoming 2018 midterms. What policies does your organization have regarding political conversations in the workplace?

Q6. What are some tips for diffusing interactions in the workplace that become heated, contentious or uncivil?

Q7. The CEO of Campbell Soup Co. sent 30,000 handwritten letters to employees to help turn around a toxic culture. What examples of culture-building have you witnessed in your organization—or in others—that are helping to encourage and foster cultures of kindness and civility?

Q8. What can we as individuals do today in our workplaces to begin creating cultures of civility? What are some simple actions or ways to get started?


How to participate in an HR Twitter chat.


The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

Add new comment

Please enter the text you see in the image below: