Balancing Self-Interest & Self-Control

In a practical world, it’s impossible to meet the interests and preferences of all conflicting parties. The reason behind this is that there are no one-point issues that employees face in the workplace. Many problems are interconnected and could be traced back to even years. For instance, an annoying worker could simply be needing someone who would listen to his issues, and give him the attention and recognition he deserves. He might also be venting his frustration from his personal life at workplace.

When you are engaged in civil behavior with your co-worker, you provide more opportunities for supportive interaction and empathy – which opens the door to aligning your self-interest with the employee’s interests, and the company’s scheme of things in general.

Civility is more than mere good manners. Civility is about walking the thin line between self-awareness and social awareness. You have to appreciate the efforts of others, while also having an accurate assessment of your role in the grand scheme of things. It’s a delicate balance between pursuing self- interest and practicing self-control. This is one of the main reasons that makes all the facilitators of effective programs on civility preface a training workshop on self-control, before they move on to self-interest and others. Therefore, one cannot just depend on good manners but also has to be informative and understanding to practice civility.

What Necessitates Civility?                        

There’s a line from John Donne’s Meditation XVII that goes- “No man is an island.” In today’s world of global business and instant connectivity, this thought couldn’t be truer. In fact, the sentence could be further modified to suit the present time, and be re-written as “no man can be an island”.

In your professional life, you may come across many people who pride themselves on being self-starters who can provide optimal output with minimal supervision. People like these are indispensable in an organization and yet, even they need to rely on their supervisors to get exact instructions to proceed with their work.

Even employees will have to rely on other’s efforts to execute a plan successfully. A self-funded businessman needs customers whom he is going to sell his products, and distributors to provide supply channels. Authors need readers to sell his book. So, whether you admit it or not- if you want to make it far in today’s world, you have got to learn how to play nice.

You might still get success by being a reclusive genius, but your road to success could face many hurdles that you could easily do without. There was a time when civility simply meant proper upbringing, but in today’s world, it could be the difference between survival and fading away.

Many people ask the oft-repeated question – What’s in It for me? – when asked to practice civility at workplace. Researchers counter this line of thought with statistics that are proven by even empirical research. A direct connection can be found between growth in employee self-esteem and employee performance. This performance was found to be incremental in both quality and quantity.

It was found that practicing civility at the workplace greatly increases an employee’s self-esteem. When an employee gets added respect and importance from his co-workers, it impacts his confidence and behavior positively. In return, he feels obliged to be civil towards his co-workers and strives to contribute his best to the collective staff performance.

What Necessitates Civility

Disrespect and inconsideration to employees can be highly stressful on their morale, and encourages absenteeism and low employee retention. Civility creates a positive and conducive working environment. Happy and relaxed workers are much more productive as compared to their unhappy counterparts. Practicing civility helps an individual grow by developing his emotional intelligence.

Civility is the best practice while dealing with difficult people at the workplace. Many start with the assumption that a difficult person is a bad person, however, seasoned managers would know that most difficult persons actually care passionately about the company. They just have a fixed way of seeing things, which is nothing that a little positive feedback from peers can’t correct. While a hostile person might see only opposition in other people’s concerns, a civil person would see beyond the apparent implications of people’s behavior.

A civil person knows how to express his dissent in a professional and matter-of-fact manner. He learns how to control his anger and frustration instead of expressing it in public. He understands the importance to soaring above petty arguments and ego battles to see the big picture. He learns social skills and conflict management which makes him better at negotiation as he has a clear, well-developed vison that is based on performance, and getting everyone willingly on board.

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