In the old days, workplace discussions covered many topics, and people could have innocuous chats in the office. Nowadays, workplace conversations are filled with polarized political and social views. Businesses and social issues now overlap, and political issues are increasingly becoming topics for conversation.
The workplace is where diverse people from diverse backgrounds with diverse values, opinions, and beliefs converge. When matched with differences in perspective and poor communication, these many personality differences can trigger real or imagined disagreements. Healthy disagreements are expected and even seen as a sign of growth among a company’s team members. Still, disagreements can get heated and result in unpleasant situations that hamper the company’s productivity.
Simple discussions in the workplace can quickly turn into a hot exchange of words and quarrels. The result is that the workplace will become a toxic environment. Cooperation and productivity will reduce or even end altogether. Apart from decreased productivity, conflict can also cause emotional stress, project failure, absenteeism, and work disruptions.
It doesn’t matter if your company is all-inclusive or doesn’t deal with customers directly. Workplace conflicts are inevitable. Therefore, it’s necessary to encourage civil discourse in the workplace. Civil discourse may not totally eliminate conflicts, but applying it can lead to better management and resolution of workplace conflicts.
Your employees are taking sides and you don’t even realize it, but you know there’s a problem because their arguments are starting to escalate. You’re desperate for guidance on how to stop the hate, or at least slow it down because things might get ugly.
There’s a better way — promoting civil discourse when it comes to important issues in the workplace will help accelerate your business growth.
In the past, companies overlooked or avoided conflict, which only worsened the conflict and reduced productivity. Nevertheless, these days, companies tend to have a more inclusive policy to promote civil discourse, respect, and resolve conflict.
Companies that want their workers to feel safe at work must create an inclusive environment that respects diversity and difference. This will not only improve output but will grow the business. How can business owners ensure that this is achieved? By following or applying the following tips.
Leading by Example
Business owners and leaders of corporations often forget the simple rule of exemplary leadership. They do not take kindly to viewpoints that contradict theirs, setting an example of how the company should treat opposing viewpoints.
It is a natural human desire to want our opinions to be shared or accepted by other people. But the workplace is not a gathering of like-minded people. It is a gathering of capable people with different ideas and values.
Suppose a leader responds positively to contrary suggestions and properly engages opposing viewpoints. In that case, it will create an environment where team members know that diverse ideas are not frowned upon. This will only lead to more progressive thinking processes that will improve efficiency and output.
Abiding by Company’s Value
Another crucial tip is for company leaders to abide by company values. Company values are sets of values showing the ideas that the company stands for. These ideas should be able to incorporate respect for individuals, promote the growth of team members, and embrace diversity.
It will serve as a working rule on how interactions should happen in the organization. When company leaders show examples by abiding by these values, every other person naturally falls in line.
Zero Tolerance for Incivility
Most companies tend to regulate what should be discussed in the workplace. But this approach has proven unsuccessful, and so companies rather encourage civil discourse. Many companies go as far as contracting civil discourse experts to train their employees on the use and merits of civil discourse. But even after this training, some employees may return to the old and uncivilized way of having conversations.
To ensure that such behavior isn’t promoted or encouraged, it is advisable to strike it down immediately if it arises. How can this be done? When someone resorts to insults in a conversation, they should immediately be made to apologize and then be coached on the importance of civil discourse and the need for a respectful exchange of ideas.
Promoting Civil Discourse
There are indeed some topics that are seen as controversial because they tend to be personal, and people fiercely defend them. In this kind of conversation, people’s opinions are usually fixed. Fortunately, these sorts of conversations hardly take place in the workplace. Most workplace conversations revolve around how resources should be allocated, the work method, and what department should be in charge of what.
Whichever conversation starts, it is important to ensure that each person presents their opinions and views without being interrupted or shut down. Even if these views are less popular or contrary to every other person’s views, it is crucial to ensure that those viewpoints are expressed. The goal, after all, is for everybody to express their opinions and for the work environment to promote diverse views.
It is not a hidden fact that conflicts in the workplace can and do hinder the company’s productivity and growth. These conflicts normally arise because of disagreements on various topics and the inability of many to tolerate diverse views.
It is crucial for business leaders and owners to create an environment where alternate views can be discussed to ensure that disagreements do not ruin the organization. This can be achieved by exemplary leadership, promoting civil discourse, and having zero tolerance for disruptive conversational behaviors.
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