Subscribe via E-mail

Your email:

Follow Me

Posts by category

Blog Roll

The Connecticut Employment Law Blog


The Ohio Employer Lawyer Law Blog



The BLEG Blog from Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP

The Blog of Boston's Business Litigation, Labor, and Employment Guides

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

Wishing You Workplace Civility In 2013


This year a client recommended that I read, The No Asshole Rule:  Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t, by Robert I. Sutton. 

Let me explain.

workplace bullying 1[1]The book recommendation came up in the context of our planning a workplace seminar for managers to address the well known topic of workplace bullying.  Having followed the field of workplace bullying for years, I was more than ready to prepare and present a substantive and engaging workshop on the topic.  However, the client felt strongly that the topic of workplace bullying needed to be addressed and presented in the most positive way possible -- avoiding a focus on bullying by instead focusing on civility and identifying civil responses to all kinds of workplace incivility including bullying.  It was in this context that the client recommended I read Dr. Sutton’s book (despite its not so positive initial title).  At her recommendation, and frankly because I was immediately hooked by the title, I read The No Asshole Rule.

If you haven’t read this book, I, too, recommend it highly.  It is an easy read and one of the best books about workplace incivility that I have read in the past year.  (It also provided for some good comic relief and interesting looks during public reading).  The book raises basic points related to cultivating and maintaining civility in the workplace, including:

  • Implement a “No Asshole Rule” in your workplace – plainly don’t hire anyone – no matter their accolades – who meets this definition.  If you already have someone meeting this definition in your midst, prioritize the rule in the workplace so that there is education, redirection and clear unacceptability communicated regarding conduct violative of the rule.  Also, note their uncivil behavior and avoid engaging in the same conduct.  Be mindful that bullying research shows that those that are bullied often end up engaging in bullying behavior themselves – be sure to take steps to reverse this curse!

  • Readily acknowledge behavior in violation of the rule; both your own and in others.  Acknowledging that most of us can and will violate the rule from time to time, the focus is on identifying the conduct, addressing and correcting it…ASAP.

  • Realize that in most cases, violations of the rule include some of the most offensive and degrading conduct between people – conduct that no one can reasonably believe is beneficial in the workplace.  This conduct is summarized by Sutton as “The Dirty Dozen” and includes:

      • Personal Insults

      • Invading One’s Personal Territory

      • Uninvited Physical Contact

      • Threats and Intimidation, both verbal and non-verbal

      • Sarcastic Jokes” and “Teasing” used as insult delivery systems

      • Withering Email Flames

      • Status Slaps intended to humiliate their victims

      • Public Shaming or “Status Degradation” Rituals

      • Rude Interruptions

      • Two Faced Attacks

      • Dirty Looks

      • Treating people as if they are invisible

  • Incivility has real and negative consequences for people and Companies, costing millions of dollars and occasionally, lives, each year.  

So, check out Sutton’s book and consider prioritizing workplace civility in 2013.  I, for one, have already read yet another book on civility, P.M. Forni’s, Choosing Civility:  The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct.  Stay tuned for my review of that book coming soon.  Until then, I wish you all workplace civility.  Let us all treat others as we would like to be treated, with civility, dignity, and respect.

Post Written by Lili Baldwin

Photo Credit: http://static.ddmcdn.com/gif/workplace-bullying-1.jpg


I dare say that the list equally applies to lawyers dealing with one another. Despite the rules mandating civility between lawyers, these are ignored (even probably by myself on occasion). I guess it's not considered civil to tell opposing counsel that he/she or his/her client is depriving some poor village of an idiot. 
Posted @ Thursday, February 07, 2013 10:45 AM by Jules Selden
Post Comment
Website (optional)

Allowed tags: <a> link, <b> bold, <i> italics