If you will indulge me, I’d like to depart from my usual career ranting, and focus instead on a bigger issue: being mean at work.
It’s been all over the news. It seems that no workplace is free from rudeness, bullying and harassment. I am not sure why this is the case. We are not in grade school any more. We are grown ups with mortgages, dogs and kids.
When we are at work, we are all working for a common cause. We have customers and products. We work to make those products better. We wrap some trust and reliability around them and people buy them.
Where is there room for being mean in this process?
Sure, we all have bad days and sometimes we say things that hurt people’s feelings either because we are grumpy or sleep deprived. That’s okay. But when you see someone’s face fall after you make what you think is a hilarious joke, stop and acknowledge it.
The lines between our work lives and our personal lives will continue to blur. What used to be six degrees of separation is shrinking to five degrees or, if you are in the recruiting business, three degrees. This means it is very likely that the person you are talking to could be your neighbour’s best friend or your cousin’s co-worker.
I am not saying there is no room for humour or that we should always have a fake smile plastered on our face, but we can certainly make a conscious effort to be friendly and consider other people’s feelings, especially at work. It won’t solve the violence in the workplace problem but it will certainly help to raise the bar a little.