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Civility training
  • In addition to anti-harassment policies and training, employers can provide employees with civility training to create a more respectful work environment overall.

Civility training is not focused specifically on harassment prevention, but rather on creating a more respectful environment overall, which should lead to less conflict and fewer incidents of harassment in the workplace. Research has shown that incivility is typically a precursor to harassment.

How can employers achieve and maintain civility in the workplace?

It’s not just about an organization protecting itself from civil rights lawsuits anymore—it’s about individuals treating everyone with respect. Being happy with a job isn’t just about the work individual’s do. Many employees cite coworkers as a primary source of workplace happiness, and the paycheck comes in second. With a variety of backgrounds and belief systems, employees of all stripes come together at work to earn a living and make a difference by working toward a shared goal.

In a diverse workplace, each person must take responsibility for individual actions to ensure the culture is fair and respectful for everyone. It’s natural to want to share opinions or even joke around, but if it causes an individual to pause and wonder if it may be out of line, the person probably shouldn’t do or say it.

To help ensure employees can identify when others have crossed the line, employers can train workers to ask:

  • Would I want this person to say/do this to me, my child, my spouse, or my parent?
  • Would this person say/do this if other people (e.g., a supervisor, HR, a customer, a reporter) were present?
  • Would I want the public to see this person’s behavior?
  • Is this behavior distracting someone from doing a job to the best of that person’s abilities?
  • Is someone with less power involved? Will the person be too afraid to say the behavior is out of line?

Conscious inclusion

Focus on “conscious inclusion” for personal growth and organizational improvement. These are ways to practice conscious inclusion:

  • Demonstrate empathy: Understand everyone faces challenges no matter a person’s background, religion, gender, or race. Accept people for the contributions each makes in the workplace.
  • Communicate authentically: Address issues directly. Speak clearly and stick to the facts. Don’t let anger or emotions cause individuals to say something the person doesn’t really mean.
  • Embrace differences: Imagine how boring life would be if people were copies of each other. Differences lead to discoveries and self-growth. Embracing differences can increase a person’s knowledge, understanding, and happiness.
  • Acknowledge privilege: A person can acknowledge any help or advantages that person may have had to get to where the individual is today. It’s helpful for workers to understand that not everyone may have had those same experiences. Chances are good someone a worker disagrees with has overcome adversity to be successful, and the person may have valuable insights to share.
  • Act courageously: Be the person who steps forward with acceptance. Others can learn from the example to build a foundation of fairness in the workplace.

Positive examples

In contrast to typical anti-harassment training, civility training tends to give people positive examples of how to behave rather than highlighting the behaviors to avoid. The training typically includes a focus on interpersonal communication, conflict resolution, and effective supervisory techniques.