In today’s fast-paced and stressful business environment it is easy to forget civility. Many of us lose our civility when someone disagrees with our position in business, politics, religion and just about every other aspect of life. If you accidentally pull in front of someone on the freeway or another street in our cities you must worry about that someone following you home. Road Rage is just another, more dangerous form of the incivility we experience every day in our society.
Have you ever walked into another place of business, perhaps a restaurant, retail store or even the hospital with an injury and been shocked at the reception you received? Have you had a clerk, the waitress or the nurse on duty just summarily dismiss you, as if you were completely unwanted as a customer or patient? This type of incivility has happened to nearly everyone reading this article; and the more this happens to us, the more we believe it is acceptable behavior as a practice in our own business; and this is just untrue. No one should be treated as if they do not matter. No one should be treated as if their business or their life is unimportant.
How does incivility get a foothold in our lives? How do we teach ourselves, our employees and even our children that incivility is acceptable? I believe it starts with language. When we call our customers or clients stupid, idiots or use other derogatory verbal slanders, in front of our employees or even our children, we are giving our employees and children a license to practice incivility.
Our attitude and uncivil language may not have an immediate effect on those around us, but being in a position of leadership gives our words and attitude more weight and those around us are more apt to emulate our actions, good or bad. So, next time you chastise an employee for being rude to a customer, reflect on your interactions with customers where your interactions were visible for this employee. How was he or she trained? How do you speak of your clients or customers?
As difficult as it is for me to say, civility must be taught and practiced in your business. Have written rules and regulations for employee/customer interaction. Be certain all interaction between your company and your clients or customers, is civil interaction. Never use derogatory language in private or in the presence of employees to describe your customers. It sets a bad example for employees and it reinforces your negative opinion of your business and the people who provide that living you enjoy. When you speak of a customer, do so with civil language. Remember, people can be ignorant of practice or specific matter and that does not make them stupid.