All I am askin’ for is a little respect (just a little bit)

“All I am askin’ for is a little respect (just a little bit),” sang Aretha Franklin. I am hearing you, sister! Basic respect and manners appear to have gone AWOL in many workplaces.

They may not be leadership buzzwords, but plain old bad manners have the potential to impinge on performance by impacting negatively on engagement and productivity. Put simply, it’s bad for business, and cannot be overlooked.

Rude, undermining behaviour is different to bullying. It is not as overt, and possibly not intentional. But the implications of bad manners can be significant. From excluding others from situations, interrupting others when speaking, withholding information, and making derogatory comments – it’s being disrespectful in person, on the phone, or by email.

Why good manners matter

Manners serve a purpose, especially in the leadership context. Leaders can build trust and engagement in the workplace by creating a culture of connection  – which dissolves boundaries. Conversely, a lack of manners can result in distance, and undermine our leadership goals because it puts up barriers. People will physically or emotionally check out.

When you have a disconnected employee, here’s what the knock-on effect can look like. As the leader, you may come to consider this team member to be uncooperative or unreasonable – which results in a vicious cycle of counter-productive, often undermining behaviour. Nobody’s needs are being met. It is a lose-lose situation.

Hello, Conversational Intelligence (C-IQ) 

Coined by the highly-credentialed Judith E. Glaser, the phrase Conversational Intelligence is based on the notion that all people have deep-seated needs for meaning, purpose, connection, and inclusion – to feel a sense of belonging.

In her book, Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary, Glaser notes that it is a leader’s capacity to activate healthy relationships with team members that will influence morale and productivity in a positive way.

According to neuroscience (PDF), our brains are designed to be social. A leader with bad manners pus up barriers in the workplace. Executives who model good behaviour and respond with Conversational Intelligence, create an atmosphere of fairness and mutual respect.

It starts with self-awareness. Today, many of us live in personal worlds defined by smartphones, headphones, and an inflated sense of self-worth – a breeding ground for bad manners. The pressure to present a curated image of ourselves on social media exacerbates the situation. This look-at-me mentality is disrupting our ability to live authentically.

The best leaders are about “we” not “me”, don’t you think?

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