Counting the cost of rudeness

Incivility on the workplace affects productivity.

Incivility on the workplace affects productivity.


AFTER hearing their accounts of sexism and rudeness in the workplace, a former adviser to the Australian Government last night urged some of Gisborne’s top businesswomen to address the fallout here caused by workplace rudeness and “blatant” office back-biting.

Speaking about the “high cost of incivility” to about 50 members of the Gisborne branch of the New Zealand Federation of Business and Professional Women last night, education consultant and former Gisborne teacher Lara Meyer said she hoped members would review their own workplace practices to recognise what incivility looked and sounded like, and implement protocols to address the subject.

“What I’ve noticed over the years is how damaging it is if we are not able to be polite to each other.

“Coming back to New Zealand and working in a small community, I have noticed that people who should be able to work together sometimes find it difficult to do so because something has happened within the relationship to cause them to not communicate as well as they might.

Costs in lost productivity

“Incivility in the workplace, by my estimation, is costing New Zealand about $15 million a year in lost productivity because people who need to be working together feel they can’t do that.

“It’s costing Australia, I know for sure, $26 million a year, which is a huge amount of money.”

During the meeting members shared their own experiences with seeing or hearing rudeness within professional environments around Gisborne.

Those included a male colleague telling a female contractor that she was “on dishes” during an industry dinner, and people reading newspapers and looking at mobile phones during a work presentation.

One female estate agent, concluding a multimillion-dollar transaction with a male client, was asked if she ‘‘knew how to write those numbers’’.

Sadly, those were “really common” experiences, Ms Meyer said.

Blatant incivility in Gisborne

In the space of one day she personally witnessed 15 separate incidents of “blatant incivility” around Gisborne’s professional community.

Those had included people at a board meeting talking all over the top of each other, right through to a person in an industry “running down” someone else in that industry.

“What I’m seeing is we are dealing with a low-trust environment in this region, and we’re going to have trouble developing economically because people are inadvertently hurting each others’ feelings.

“I don’t believe for a second that anyone in this town is doing it deliberately. The guy that makes the comment about it’s your turn to do the dishes, whatever they are, they are not meaning to hurt somebody’s feelings but we’re not paying attention to how we are being perceived."

The issue needed to be taken seriously, and it was time the region had a grown-up conversation about how people could work together to get what they all wanted for the region.

“How do we move together, if you can’t leave a room without hoping people aren’t talking about you behind your back? It’s not good.

“If we want to create amazing opportunity in this region at every level we are going to have to start thinking about how we treat each other.”

AFTER hearing their accounts of sexism and rudeness in the workplace, a former adviser to the Australian Government last night urged some of Gisborne’s top businesswomen to address the fallout here caused by workplace rudeness and “blatant” office back-biting.

Speaking about the “high cost of incivility” to about 50 members of the Gisborne branch of the New Zealand Federation of Business and Professional Women last night, education consultant and former Gisborne teacher Lara Meyer said she hoped members would review their own workplace practices to recognise what incivility looked and sounded like, and implement protocols to address the subject.

“What I’ve noticed over the years is how damaging it is if we are not able to be polite to each other.

“Coming back to New Zealand and working in a small community, I have noticed that people who should be able to work together sometimes find it difficult to do so because something has happened within the relationship to cause them to not communicate as well as they might.

Costs in lost productivity

“Incivility in the workplace, by my estimation, is costing New Zealand about $15 million a year in lost productivity because people who need to be working together feel they can’t do that.

“It’s costing Australia, I know for sure, $26 million a year, which is a huge amount of money.”

During the meeting members shared their own experiences with seeing or hearing rudeness within professional environments around Gisborne.

Those included a male colleague telling a female contractor that she was “on dishes” during an industry dinner, and people reading newspapers and looking at mobile phones during a work presentation.

One female estate agent, concluding a multimillion-dollar transaction with a male client, was asked if she ‘‘knew how to write those numbers’’.

Sadly, those were “really common” experiences, Ms Meyer said.

Blatant incivility in Gisborne

In the space of one day she personally witnessed 15 separate incidents of “blatant incivility” around Gisborne’s professional community.

Those had included people at a board meeting talking all over the top of each other, right through to a person in an industry “running down” someone else in that industry.

“What I’m seeing is we are dealing with a low-trust environment in this region, and we’re going to have trouble developing economically because people are inadvertently hurting each others’ feelings.

“I don’t believe for a second that anyone in this town is doing it deliberately. The guy that makes the comment about it’s your turn to do the dishes, whatever they are, they are not meaning to hurt somebody’s feelings but we’re not paying attention to how we are being perceived."

The issue needed to be taken seriously, and it was time the region had a grown-up conversation about how people could work together to get what they all wanted for the region.

“How do we move together, if you can’t leave a room without hoping people aren’t talking about you behind your back? It’s not good.

“If we want to create amazing opportunity in this region at every level we are going to have to start thinking about how we treat each other.”

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