New Year’s Resolution: Don’t Be a Jerk

Masks with DonkeyWe see a trend in New Year’s resolutions. People seem to be moving from grandiose to doable. The emphasis in much of what we read is on real impact instead of great ambitions. So in that spirit, we have one for you that everyone can keep: don’t be a jerk. Not even when it might be justified.

You will make this a better world.

A World of Rudeness

As doable as this resolution might seem, observational research tells us too few people are following this simple maxim – especially in workplaces. Christine Porath has researched the phenomenon of workplace incivility for years and documented a striking rise in this. In 1998, only about a quarter of workers reported that they regularly experienced rudeness at work. By 2005, almost half of workers were reporting regular experiences of rudeness at work. Now, in 2022, the number has risen to 76%.

Yes, plenty of us are falling into the trap of acting badly.

Kindness Is Contagious

But the good news is that civility and kindness are contagious. Porath explains that we can cope by modeling and expecting better behavior:

“Incivility is contagious. Fortunately, civility’s power to spread is just as great. We can’t control what customers do, but we can equip our employees to handle bad behavior by establishing and enforcing norms of respect, coaching them to have difficult conversations, and showing them the value of rest and recovery. My research confirms that kindness, consideration, and respect can have a potent effect, creating a positive dynamic of civility that others – maybe even those rude customers – will respond to and build on.”

We can do this. We don’t have to be a jerk in any circumstance. Kindness and civility can make our corner of the world into a better place. It can even spread beyond our corner.

Click here for perspective from Marketplace, here for more on workplace civility. and here for more on New Year’s resolutions that stick.

Masks with Donkey, painting by Jose Gutierrez Solana / WikiArt

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January 1, 2024