It could be a flipped finger, any digit.
Or a brusque response to a neutral comment.
Eating out and cellphone conversations, at the same time.
Even an online snippet that somehow can’t be recalled.
Many have called this incivility in America. We prefer naming this, simply, bullying. Because in any shape or form, in a variety of public forums, a sharp retort, interpreted a wrong way, can result in lost productivity, future bad behavior, employee turnover, and the very unfortunate downside of increased violence and suicide.
Research and academic institutes affirm this. To no one’s surprise, an August 2013 survey of U.S. adults reveals that bullying experiences number more than two a day. Half of respondents ended friendships; more than a quarter left their jobs.
Apologies, usually, aren’t enough. A number of employees are starting to instill and reward kinder, gentler actions. NSA (we’re not kidding here) launched a program to increase cordiality, from registering compliments to recognizing those who show up early for meetings. A Louisiana health system established the 10/5 rule: Practice eye contact at ten feet; greet within five. Boorish behavior has been banned from the folks who edit/work at Wikipedia; its code of conduct mandates that editors participate in the writing process in respectful and considerate ways.
What else is needed? Role modeling, for sure (and that’s an activity that we should excel at, as communicators and marketers). Two: Promote and adopt the principle of least drama, solving an issue with the minimum of noise and hubbub.
Lastly, admit it (we will, if you will): Life was much simpler when we were taught to treat each other the way we wanted to be treated.