Incivility at work? How to fight back, nicely 

Desk rage. Back-stabbing bosses. Sarcastic and inconsiderate co-workers. This isn’t the plot of the latest reality TV show. This is 9-to-5 reality for way too many people. You may have heard about a new, headline-making survey that says 43 percent of Americans have been targets of workplace incivility. It’s easy to guess why: The shaky economy’s ratcheting up workday stress for 70 percent of us.

Here are three great reasons you shouldn’t put up with it:

1. It infects your home life. Rudeness has a ripple effect. You bring the bad vibes home, and things get tense there. The next day, your partner drags the ill will off to his or her workplace, triggering another outbreak of incivility.

2. It’s a health threat. Negativity and chronic stress boost your blood pressure and the threat of heart
disease and lung problems.



3. It’s bad for business. Managers and CEOs, listen up. Ignoring a nasty work environment (or contributing to it) costs you money. Workers who’ve been targets may not tell you so, but half of them waste work time dodging or worrying about the next “attack.” One in five says they don’t work as hard and one in 10 finds ways to spend less time on the job. Work stress costs the economy $300 billion a year, and plenty of it is “people stress.”

If you’re stuck in the kind of office that makes the Hatfields and McCoys look like kissing cousins, try these steps to help you rise above the ugliness and bring back respect:

Stage a one-person “good manners revolution.” Emily Post and your grandmom knew a thing or two. Good manners aren’t namby-pamby. They’re a time-tested instruction manual for maintaining dignity and sanity. So respect others. Look for the best in people.

Outsmart the office jerk. Every water cooler’s got one: the complainer who always sees the dark side. Protect yourself by cutting him or her some slack (maybe there’s a difficult situation at home).

Find an ally. If there’s rampant incivility at work, talk with your boss or have a chat with human resources. Bring along this column. Business psychology experts emphasize that real change comes only from the top.

Find meaning in what you do. Work’s not easy these days, but renewing your commitment to your job can help you shrug off the ill effects of incivility. Even if you have to dig, there’s satisfaction somewhere in any job. Is it, even indirectly, helping you reach your purpose in life? And, yes, “purpose” includes earning enough money to raise a family. Or support a passion. Or do good elsewhere. Or retrain for a new job!

The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show” and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic, are authors of “YOU: Losing Weight.” For more information go to www.RealAge.com.

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