Are You Guilty of Uncivil and Destructive Workplace Behavior?

Do you embark on private discussions with a co-worker where the motivation and goal are simply to complain about other team members?

Do you mock others and complain about colleagues and decisions because you always know best?

What is Civility?

Workplace civility can be defined as “behaviors that help to preserve the norms for mutual respect in the workplace; civility reflects concern for others” (Andersson, 1999).

When we fail to smile at a colleague or contemptuously smirk at another person’s suggestion, gather in small clans or cliques or ostracize others through exclusionary practices, these seemingly innocuous behaviors can be very costly to employee morale, team building efforts and employer trust!

As a reader you may be thinking, as you rush ahead to these examples, that you cannot or are not an uncivil person. You do not behave in a way that is bullying or harassing or intimidating to others. Or do you?

Common behaviors that are considered uncivil are:


  • A failure to notice or acknowledge another person’s presence such as ignoring them in a group situation, or their arrival to a group setting.
  • If we ignore a person’s greetings or well wishes as they approach or leave our company.
  • Bullying or behavior that comes in the form of leveraging the power of cliques to ostracize particular individuals.
  • The use of hostile, intimidating or crude language towards or about something or somebody.
  • To either gossip or spread gossip about another irrespective of its factual accuracy.
  • Surreptitiously assigning blame to a third-party for a work-place mistake based on unclear expectations, particularly if this mistake or person is then a topic of gossip.
  • Sabotaging an individual’s performance through lack of communication or support.
  • Ignoring or downplaying an individual’s contribution in the workplace or on a project.
  • Being insensitive to others needs with regard to personal time off, support or tolerance.
  • Poor communication etiquette such as ignoring calls or email, omitting to reply to some team members over others. Remember civility is beyond just good manners.
  • Any visual or verbal bullying behavior in the workplace is not only uncivil but can also be illegal.
  • Behavior that discriminates against an individual because of an intrinsic characteristic or physical appearance is not only uncivil and immoral it can also be illegal.

As individuals we must be emotionally aware of our behavior and the impact it has on others. In the short term it will impede our ability to work with others and be a productive team member. In the long term it will damage relationships and employment opportunities.

You can read the full article here The Lost Art of Disagreeing without Being Disagreeable: An Urgent Need for a Return to Civility! This article was written by Niki Tudge and published in BARKS from the Guild.


Andersson, L. (1999). Tit for tat? The spiraling effect of incivility in the workplace. Academy of Management Review, 24: 452-471.