Restoring civility: Here are 4 tips to increase courtesy in the workplace

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 9 2013 6:20 a.m. MST

I was taught early in my career, by friends and colleagues much wiser than myself, that “criticism” is never “constructive.” I don’t think I have ever worked with people who agree all the time. For most of us the average workday includes a lot of problem-solving, which means things are seldom done right the first time. Fostering a creative environment where everyone is creatively solving problems and pushing for excellence requires collaboration, not criticism. Where disagreements arise or a course correction is required, “I don’t like this,” should be followed by, “here’s why, and here’s a suggestion as to how you might proceed.”

4. Never forget, it’s much easier to critique than to execute

It’s always easier to see the flaws from the outside looking in. Theodore Roosevelt said, “It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause who, at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

Real communication isn’t about tricks or gimmicks — it’s personal. It doesn’t really matter if it’s face-to-face, via email or the telephone, communication is all about people interacting with each other.

American author and playwright Jean Kerr said, “Man is the only animal that learns by being hypocritical. He pretends to be polite and then, eventually, he becomes polite.”

As a Main Street business evangelist and marketing veteran with more than 25 years in the trenches, Ty Kiisel writes about leading people and small-business issues for Lendio (www.lendio.com).

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