Don’t let outwardly positive communications mask rudeness. Positivity can be misused when an overemphasis on political correctness means issues are brushed aside. In my opinion, there is such a thing as too much niceness, too much “correctness,” and that’s not good either.
Open communications must allow for dissent and
reality-based conversations. Negative comments should be aired, but only in effective ways. Point out mistakes to clear the way for progress and appreciation, but be aware of your tone and word choices.
The one statement that best predicts employee engagement is “I have a supervisor or someone at work who seems to care about me as a person,” reveals Gallup research. A genuine interest in your direct reports encourages them to give their best.
Create group norms for how people should handle negative and positive behaviors. Share effective ways to give feedback and hold each other accountable.
For example, according to a Forbes article, How to Give Feedback that Works, avoid these common errors that turn feedback into fights:
- Choose one issue at a time. Focusing on too many skills or behaviors at once is confusing and overwhelming.
- Don’t be too critical or focus too heavily on the negative. Feedback should inspire the other person to improve, not make them wallow in where they went wrong.
- At the same time, feedback shouldn’t avoid real problems. If there’s an issue, don’t be afraid to state it.
- Don’t be vague – use specific examples, and connect those behaviors to impact.
- Leave plenty of time for the recipient to ask or answer questions and respond to what you’ve said.
Rudeness can’t survive in a culture that has norms in place for handling errors. Achieve desired behaviors by teaching people how to express their opinions in a civil manner.
Civility can, indeed, be taught. As a leader or manager, you’re frequently teaching it in real time by modeling suitable behaviors. You may also benefit from working with an executive coach or a mentor with experience in leadership development.
It’s not always easy, I know. In the work I do coaching some pretty smart executives, there’s a fine line between what makes feedback effective – what makes an impact – and what might be considered too strong, even rude.
People vary greatly in their sensitivities, which is where your leadership skills should kick into play. But in the heat of the moment, we don’t always hold back or choose the best words.
What’s been your experience? I’d love to hear from you.