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The Power of Niceness in the Workplace: Why Incivility is Toxic and How to Combat it

The Importance of Niceness in the Office

Imagine working in an office environment where rudeness is the norm. Colleagues are short-tempered, dismissive, and downright nasty towards one another.

Such an environment can be brutal, toxic, and nerve-wracking. Living through each day can be a challenge, and the effects of such an environment can take its toll on both our physical and mental health.

Losing work time, decreased effort, and stress are just a few consequences of a work environment that condones incivility.

Negative Effects of Incivility

Incivility in the workplace involves rude or disrespectful behavior towards one’s colleagues, and this can take many different forms. Incivility can include condescending remarks, dismissive gestures, spreading rumors, talking behind someone’s back, unprofessional language, toxic gossip, and disrespectful tones, among many other things.

Incivility is a pervasive problem in many workplaces, and the effects of such behavior have a far-reaching impact on organizations and the people who make them up. One of the most obvious effects of incivility is work time lost.

When colleagues are rude towards each other, it can be a severe source of job stress. Incivility makes it difficult to focus, communicate with others, and collaborate.

Simply put, rudeness can ruin productivity. When it becomes pervasive, the loss of work time can be significant.

Another way incivility impacts the workplace is through decreased effort. When colleagues are rude and unprofessional, it can become challenging to motivate them to put in their best effort.

It’s no secret that when people feel respected and valued, they are more likely to put in a lot of hard work and commit to their jobs. On the other hand, when they feel undervalued, they are likely to become demotivated and out of touch with their jobs; this can lead to poor performance and decreased productivity.

Addressing Behavioral Issues

Despite the negative effects of incivility in the workplace, it’s not the end of the road. There are several things you can do to address the problem of incivility in the office.

The first thing to do is to ensure that you are a friendly and respectful colleague. Body language plays an important role in demonstrating friendliness.

Make sure you make eye contact with those around you and give them a smile in passing. A well-timed joke or a friendly comment can also go a long way to improving the general tone of the workplace.

If you are having trouble with specific colleagues, use non-confrontational language to address the issue. Explain how certain comments or attitudes have made you feel and how they have impacted your work.

Express a desire to work together in a more collaborative and supportive manner. Communication is key when trying to address the behavior of your colleagues.

It’s also important to report problems to management. If you are experiencing incivility in the workplace and it’s starting to impact your work, you should report it to your supervisor or HR personnel.

Additionally, checking in with an employee assistance program (EAP) or seeking external support from a professional is also an option.

Small Acts of Rudeness

Incivility can also be rooted in small acts of rudeness. Have you ever been upset with someone, and s/he didn’t erase the irritation?

Perhaps a co-worker criticized your work in a way that upset you, or maybe someone made a rude comment that lingered long after the conversation was over. These small acts of rudeness can accumulate over time and become extremely damaging.

Importance of Language and Body Language

The language that people use towards one another plays an important role in how they feel. A positive attitude towards colleagues is key to achieving a positive work environment.

In addition to language, body language also speaks volumes. Nonverbal cues can be easily picked up by those around us, even if they are not aware of it.

Responding to Rudeness

It’s normal to feel upset when someone is rude to you; it’s an indicator of a sensitivity level. As we interact with others, we build emotional relationships rooted in stress.

Overanalyzing interactions is not healthy; sometimes, it’s important to trust your gut and let things flow naturally. However, if someone does something particularly offensive, it’s okay to address it.

Regardless of how we respond, it’s essential to handle rude behavior with grace and sobriety.


Having a positive work environment is crucial to creating a sense of value and belonging for employees. Working with colleagues who are friendly, respectful, and professional is essential for maintaining our physical and emotional well-being.

In the same vein, responding to incivility is vital for improving the tone of the workplace. Body language and language choice play an important role in creating a hospitable work environment, and it’s important to address incivility through the proper channels.

In the end, a workplace environment that values niceness helps to create valuable and productive employees.

Reporting Behavioral Issues

Knowing when to report problems in the workplace is a critical aspect of creating a safe and harmonious work environment. Issues that negatively impact work productivity, office workflow, team dynamics, and employee morale should be reported as soon as possible to minimize the risk of further escalation.

Knowing When to Report Problems

Workplace behavioral problems can take many forms. They may include incivility, harassment, discrimination, bullying, aggression, or hostile behavior.

These behaviors can manifest in different ways, and it is essential for employees to be in tune with the workplace environment to detect them. Some signs to watch out for include:

– Negative comments or attitudes

– Hostile stares or body language

– Rumors, malicious gossip, or toxic office politics

– Shaming or blaming

– Isolation or exclusion

– Acts of aggression or physical violence

– Dismissal of ideas or opinions

– Disrespectful language

While these behaviors may not be apparent to everyone, they have the potential to become pervasive over time, resulting in a hostile work environment.

In most cases, such workplace behavior can lead to not just a loss of productivity but also significant mental health issues for employees.

Effective Reporting

Reporting incidences of workplace behavioral issues should be done in a manner that is effective and constructive. Here are some tips to help make reporting efficient:

Record Keeping

Recording incidences of workplace behavioral issues can be useful in certain circumstances. Keeping a journal of interactions and behavioral issues can help to create a record of what has happened in a situation.

This can be useful in situations where it may be hard to remember exact details when reporting an issue. Furthermore, it provides concrete evidence for management or human resource personnel when investigating a problem.

Specific Examples

When reporting behavioral issues, it’s important to be specific. Providing specific examples of what occurred, including dates, times, and locations, can help to support your allegation.

Vague or ambiguous statements can be hard to understand, especially when trying to resolve issues. Being precise creates a clear picture and helps determine the best course of action.

Report Problems Higher Up

Reporting workplace behavioral issues to higher-ups like managers, human resource departments, or supervisors is essential when dealing with issues that occur in meetings, conflicts, or other group settings. It’s worth noting that certain issues may require reporting to an external organization like a federal agency if the problem is severe enough.

Direct Communication

When reporting an issue, you should let your colleague know that their behavior is unacceptable in a direct manner. For example, “When you speak to me that way, I find it incredibly hurtful and offensive, and I would appreciate it if you could adjust your behavior.” Direct communication can help the offender understand his or her behavior and avoid repeating the same action in the future.

In conclusion, combating workplace behavioral issues requires constant vigilance. Employees should be in tune with their work environment and watch out for behavior that has the potential to escalate.

Additionally, recording details of the interaction and being specific when reporting are crucial elements of addressing the problem. Effective reporting contributes to the creation of a hospitable work culture and can prevent further escalation.

The importance of niceness in the office cannot be overstated. Incivility in the workplace can lead to negative consequences such as a loss of productivity, decreased effort, and stress.

To address behavioral issues, employees should actively try to create a friendly work environment, use non-confrontational language to address conflicts, and report problems to management when necessary. Small acts of rudeness can also lead to damaging consequences and demands for positive language and body language.

Knowing when to report problems and how to report them effectively, including record keeping, specific examples, and direct communication, is critically important. By taking these measures, employees can create a more positive work environment, one that values transparency and collaboration, and reinforces the belief that niceness matters.

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