I'm all for a rise in civility in the workplace. So too is Steve Harrison, chairman of management-consultants Lee Hecht Harrison, who has written a book called The Manager's Book of Decencies.
What Harrison describes is nothing short of the ideal place to work – for example, managers, you could show some decency by shutting up. Ok, perhaps he didn't put it exactly that way, but Mr. Harrison does suggest keeping meetings short and actively participating in them (other than as the only person speaking), as well as making sure you know everyone by name.
While the end result may not change, this way people may at least feel that their opinions are valued.
Other suggestions include laying off people in a humane manner – do it face to face, not before a holiday, and never on a Friday.
A quick handshake or even a simple hello is an easy trick that managers can put in to place (at no cost!) that will improve morale and keep employees wanting to work for you.
Of course, despite the goodwill bandied about in his book, there's no reason to have to pay for this sort of information. A little courtesy in the workplace is beneficial for many reasons, including selfish ones.
Being nice may just get you what you need during project crunch time. Or, perhaps, just perhaps, it's enough to know that your parents probably raised you to be well-mannered – why save it just for them during the holidays?
Nevertheless, Mr. Harrison's book does seem to provide a quick crash course or a refresher for those whose professional behavior is, shall we say, lacking. Let's just hope that enough people read it; we can tackle decency for others, such as drivers on the way to the office later.