Civility and Etiquette in the Workplace

Every week I see articles on lack of workplace etiquette and civility.  It appears co-workers, friends, and family members are not getting along and this is fast becoming an epidemic. People are also using the demise in civility and etiquette as a barometer for leaving jobs or cutting off friendships and relationships.

This month I’m sharing a ton of information on civility, including a list I’ve compiled on the subject, results of a hot-off-the-press annual survey called, “Civility in America: A Nationwide Survey, plus links to more articles and additional free information you can download to help you in managing performance.  I hope you will find all this information as eye opening as I have. Some 63% of Americans believe we have a major incivility problem in our country, and 81% of those surveyed believe incivility in our government is harming our country’s future.

Civility in America 2012 Overview, plus links to the full 14-page Executive Summary and Press Release (Also at and at

Here is a list of incivility acts I have gathered from multiple sources. Do any of these resonate in your workplace or daily life? What other items would you add?

It is uncivil when people are:

  • Using swear words
  • Not greeting coworkers when arriving at work
  • Shouting to others across the room or between cubicles
  • Not offering guests a beverage or help hanging up coats, especially on rainy days with a dripping umbrella
  • Taking calls on a speakerphone when others are within hearing range
  • Wearing sloppy, un-pressed, or too-revealing attire
  • Offering a weak handshake and failing to make eye contact
  • Displaying poor dining skills
  • Answering cellphones or texts during conversations, meetings, and meals
  • Discussing personal problems, situations or affairs in too much detail
  • Purposely embarrassing co-workers for the fun of it
  • Not showing respect to the person conducting a meeting, speaking out too much in a meeting, or failing to understand their own rank during a meeting
  • Showing up to work as though they just rolled out of bed, with messy hair, dirty finger nails, wrinkled or dirty clothes, messy make-up, bad breath, or dandruff
  • Taking what isn’t theirs out of the refrigerator and bringing in stinky food to heat up in the microwave, such as leftover curry, fish, or garlicky dishes; taking the last paper towel sheet and not replacing the roll; or leaving messes for others to clean up
  • Speaking too loudly, especially while using headphones and cell phones
  • Talking too much during work and constantly bothering people with various comments
  • Showing inappropriate photos of spouses or children
  • Openly having an affair in the office
  • Fighting with a spouse on the phone within earshot of others
  • Not respecting other workers’ personal space.
  • Chewing gum and making snaps, pops, and cracking noises. Sucking loudly on mints or candies
  • Interrupting when someone is making a point in a meeting or delivering a presentation
  • Not honoring someone else’s ideas and suggestions or taking them as one’s own
  • Smirking to show they don’t agree with what the other person is saying
  • Not contributing to a potluck lunch at work but eating more than others and taking home the leftovers
  • Clueless about how to make a proper introduction
  • Clipping nails at their desks, no matter how private
  • (For men) Wearing pants that are too short, so socks and shin show when legs are crossed. Carrying lots of change in their pockets and jingling them all the time.
  • Not enforcing a civility policy if they are managers, such as office rules, dress codes, and behavior. Also, while common sense guides most of us, people may be new to a professional environment and aren’t sure how to act
  • Telling people about personal problems when asked how they are, instead of simply replying, “Fine, thank you, how are you?”

BONUS: Three tip-of-the-iceberg articles on workplace civility:

Look for more information in the months ahead on this crucial topic that is tantamount to our well-being.

Let me here from you if you would like me to come speak to your group about “workplace civility.” Be sure to add to the above list by submitting your pet peeves of incivility in the workplace and life to this blog or email me at

Happy Practicing!

1 Response to "Civility and Etiquette in the Workplace"