Work Life & Safety January 13, 2021

Respect Check: Are You Creating a Civil Workplace?

Maggie K., Editor in Chief

Every person – regardless of age, color, race, disability, genetic information, national origin, parental/marital status, religion, pregnancy, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity – has the right to a safe, civil workplace free of discrimination and harassment. While it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure equal employment opportunities and antiharassment policies are upheld within an organization, employees must also do their part by ensuring they treat their coworkers with respect at all times.

What Is Civility?

Civility is about how we relate to others. It is closely related to cour­tesy, politeness and consideration, and it goes hand-in-hand with respect.

Civility is behavior that:

  • Shows respect toward others.
  • Makes others feel valued.
  • Contributes to mutual respect, effective communication and team collaboration.

What Is a Civil Workplace?

A civil workplace is one in which employees are:

  • Being courteous, polite and considerate to one another.
  • Showing respect to others (e.g., making personal connections, truly listening and being honest with one another, being sensitive to cultural and individual characteristics).

What Can I Do to Help Create a Civil Workplace?

Employees play a large part in fostering a positive and inclusive work atmosphere. The following checklist can help you do your share to build and maintain a civil workplace free from harassment and intolerance, and full of courtesy and respect:

Icon clip board check mark

  • Always be polite and treat your coworkers, peers and superiors with respect.
  • Welcome new or transferring employees to your group.
  • Respect diversity (e.g., different religions, political beliefs, abilities, traditions and values).
  • Never make remarks concerning a person’s unique characteristics.
  • Consider how your words and actions will affect others before acting.
  • When there is an issue, deal directly with the other person. Never talk behind their back.
  • Don’t take suggestions or constructive criticism as a personal attack – take them as inspiration to improve.
  • Avoid placing blame and making excuses.
  • Acknowledge the contributions of other employees.
  • Show appreciation when others have helped you.
  • Understand your triggers. Know what makes you angry and respond in a more appropriate manner.
  • Use active listening when discussing issues with others.
  • Be an active bystander and report any witnessed situations of workplace bullying, harassment or incivility.

Do Your Part

Employees should make a commitment to breaking the cycle of incivility and harassment so they can make positive contributions to their workplace culture. Doing all you can to create a safe, inclusive and respectful environment for yourself and all your coworkers is the first step.

For more information on various workplace topics, browse the QuickSeries® library of Work Life & Safety guides, including: Civility in the Workplace and Put an End to Harassment in the Workplace

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