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Respectfully Yours: Keep it civil

Dear Jacquelyn,

I work in a chain drug store in a small community. From time to time, we have employee meetings. I encounter some pretty rude behavior at these meetings, including gum-chewing and interrupting. I am appalled by my colleagues’ disrespectful behavior. Since I am middle-aged, perhaps my ways are just old fashioned and outdated. What do you think?

Dear Reader,

I don’t think your ways are old-fashioned or outdated. Good manners are key to successful relationships at work and in our personal relationships. The fact is: bad mannered co-workers exist at virtually every workplace and community. As you deal with the problem, it’s important to not take their behavior to heart.

Without being sarcastic, which won’t work and could make things worse, you might be able to find a way to restore peace. The gum-chewing may be inadvertent or a subtle way to gain attention.

Perhaps, giving a meaningful glance might defuse the situation. Another option is to simply to try to ignore it. The fact that the person does it says something about them, not you. Whatever the cause, don’t take it personally. Try and let it roll off.

It can pay to try to set a good example and take the “nice” route. Even though it can take a lot to be nice to someone who is rude, your behavior may influence theirs in a positive way. Please do not stoop to their level and start being rude back. It will only make you look bad.

Sometimes choosing not to let it get to you can be the easiest way to deal with it.

Being tolerant of others’ quirks is an asset in the workplace. You have to consider that some employees don’t understand how their behavior affects others around them. A rude co-worker may simply have a lapse in manners rather than ill-intent.

If a colleague is rude at meetings, chances are there are other instances when they are displaying inappropriate behavior on the job. If the problem persists and there is a constant distraction, try talking it over with your manager. Gently suggest (no need to list all the complaints) that it would be great if they could address meeting etiquette at the next employee meeting. Rudeness is poison in a work environment. Being civil to colleagues isn’t optional. Keep being polite. It’s disarming.

Respectfully Yours, Jacquelyn

Have a question? Email: jacquelyn@ptd.net. Jacquelyn Youst is owner of the Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol, specializing in etiquette training. She is on the board of directors of the National Civility Foundation. All Rights Reserved &Copy; 2018 Jacquelyn Youst