Have you even been accused of  being overly blunt, rude or condescending a lá House M.D. ? Then this might just be the book for you


Title:  Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace

Author: Christine Porath

Format: Hardback, 240 pages

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Publishing  Date:   December 2016

Simply put, Christine Porath’s Mastering Civility examines how being civil in the workplace can drive better personal and organisational performance. She  argues the incivility is driven by a number of factors including globalisation and technology but ignorance is at the crux of the matter.

She talks  about the importance of psychological safety-the feeling that the team’s working environment is trusting, respectful and safe place to take. According to a study, one organisation’s psychological safety increased by 35%  when people offered a suggestion civilly as compared to uncivilly (i.e. an interaction marked by inconsiderate interruption).  This took me back to some of my own episodes when I was the condescending colleague and my co-worker had to put me in check. She reminded me of the importance of giving helpful criticism and telling with a light touch versus being hurtful.

I was glad to know that there is a plethora of evidence that shows that ” good guys and girls” can win the workplace even in industries that are considered cutthroat like law and finance. The bottom line is that quantifiable results are important for any organisation but people do not want to work with people who are considered uncivil and  unpleasant. One of the consistent and interesting examples is of multimedia financial services company Motley Fool‘s corporate culture that has embedded the importance of knowing people across the organisation and how this has boosted the working environment.

Throughout the book, Porath refers to numerous studies that help to drive the point across. She gives pointers for those who bear the brunt of incivility by advising that they should prioritise themselves and their future. Meaning that, the only thing that one can control is themselves and their inner being and not other people’s actions. She goes further to recommend how the “victims” can handle such episodes. My main takeaway from the book was the importance of self-awareness and constantly evaluating one’s emotional quotient (EQ) especially in the  workplace. In addition, help is always available in terms of career coaching and even consider therapy, which is no longer a taboo issue.

I would recommend this book for anyone who is keen on improving their corporate culture  or a newly appointed manager who is keen on making a positive impact in his jurisdiction.  It is good reminder that results-based performance is not just about what you do but also how you do things. So be weary of being insensitive, abrasive or leading-by-bullying. Your co-workers may fail to share important information or withhold efforts and resources especially when uncivil leaders least expect it.

If you enjoyed Adam Grant’s Give and Take and/or Fitzsimmons and Atkins’s Rethinking Reputational Risk then  you are poised to enjoy Mastering Civility.  I must say that I would definitely be curious to know whether she has written some articles on how to be civil in heated political climate.


Note: This book was provided by Grand Central Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Photo Credit: Goodreads

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