Workplace Civility

I recently read “How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age” by Brent Cole (Simon & Schuster Paperbacks). I had been aware of the “How to Win Friends and Influence People” series as I’m sure many people are, but I had never actually read any of the books from the series before. This particular volume combined Dale Carnegie’s original advice about human relationships to the digital communication media that individuals and organizations rely on today.

The advice in the book included:

  • You earn the highest levels of influence through generosity and trustworthiness (p. xxi)
  • Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain (p. 3)
  • Set yourself apart by stepping to a higher plane in the mind and heart of another (p. 20)
  • Influence is about offering mutually beneficial packages (p. 29)
  • Aim for connection, influence, agreement, and collaboration (p. 35)
  • Smile through your written words (p. 56)
  • Focus on building relationships in your interactions (p. 65)
  • Arguing with another person will rarely get you anywhere (p. 100)
  • Always default to diplomacy (p. 113)
  • Recognize and admit our errors (p. 120)
  • Set the tone with gentleness and affability (p. 126)
  • The more you surrender the credit for something you’ve done, the more memorable you become (p. 145)

Much of this advice sounds so practical, but it is amazing how prevalent incivility in the workplace has become. Incivility in the workplace includes bullying, particularly from bosses or supervisors, rudeness to coworkers and customers, teasing, and verbal abuse and demeaning comments.

The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review have all published articles between 2013 and 2016 concerning incivility in the workplace. A 2013 Harvard Business Review article reported that 98% of people have experienced uncivil behavior at work (Porath & Pearson, 2013). The cost of incivility at work is high. It impacts employee’s health, motivation, and performance. Employees who are bullied are less likely to be creative and are less productive and engaged.

Knowing how damaging incivility can be to individuals and organizations re-emphasizes the importance of “basic” rules for civic, cordial and relationship-strengthening behaviours such as those emphasized in this book.


Porath, C. & Pearson, C. (2013). The price of incivility. Harvard Business Review, January-February 2013 Issue. Retrieved from

Porath, C. (2015). No time to be nice at work. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Porath, C. (2016). Civility at work helps everyone get ahead. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from

Featured image by Paul Mison


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