My coworkers post such vile things on their Facebook pages. I want to tell them that theyâre all idiots.
I want to work out; I donât want to argue with my trainer about the election. If she doesnât stop talking about her candidate, I will go elsewhere.
I donât want to discuss politics at work. Yet, my colleagues say nasty things about the candidates and often end up yelling at each other. What do I do?
The recent outbreaks of uncivil behavior in the political arena have impacted our everyday experiences, as the comments above testify. But it’s time for people to fight back â politely, of course â and assert that being uncivil to one another is not the way we want public figures to behave. Nor is it the way we should behave.
Bear in mind:
— You donât have to mirror the impolite actions of others.
— You can be âpolite and powerfulâ and express yourself without resorting to bad behavior.
Use these tips to encourage polite behavior in your workplace and in your wider world. (These apply to your social media postings, also.)
1. Donât attack back. Remember that someone elseâs bad behavior is no excuse for your own. I know this may be a hard concept to accept, and even harder to implement â but it is worth practicing. If somebody says something to offend you, it may feel good to respond with a comment like, âWell, what do you know, you idiot?â But this type of response is not going to build your credibility or accomplish anything. Plus, it gives the other person power over you, by getting you to say things that most people will regret later.
2. Disagree agreeably. If you have difficulty with someone, talk to the person. Listen to what he or she has to say. You can evaluate an idea without attacking the person who is promoting it. Explain your reasons. Provide the specific information, quotes and/or research. You can say, âI see it differently, and hereâs whyâ¦â which is a lot more productive than screaming at people or calling them names. Or, you can say, âLetâs agree to disagree and move on,â or âI am not discussing politics at work. Letâs get back to the topic at hand.â
3. Avoid inflammatory words. Using harsh words such as âstupid,â âignorant,â and âdumbâ only inflames a situation, and this approach is unlikely to lead to a positive resolution. Name calling is just wrong â and childish. Cursing at people is not only mean, it also reflects poorly on the one doing the cursing. (Additional information on word choice and how to respond assertively to aggressive comments can be found in my book, The Communication Clinic: 99 Proven Cures for the Most Common Business Mistakes.)
4. Remember that itâs hard to be nasty to people who are nice to you. This includes meetings in person or via Zoom. Keep âplease,â âthank you,â and âexcuse meâ in your vocabulary. Greet others when you see them. Donât interrupt people. Help them when you can. These behaviors are common sense, but unfortunately theyâre not always common practice.
5. Do something. If you really donât like something, take action. Donât complain to others, get involved. Join organizations. Volunteer for causes you support. Start a blog where you assertively (politely and powerfully) express your opinions â but make sure you follow your company guidelines, if you do.
6. Walk away. And if you donât want to do any of the above, you can always avoid hostile or impolite discussions by removing yourself from the conversation or taking a break from social media.
Pachter & Associates provides training and coaching on business etiquette and communication skills. For additional information, please contact Joyce Hoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.