Every organization has a culture. Years ago I went to work for American Greetings as a sales rep. I was flown to Dallas, TX for a two-week training. There I was taught about product, policies, and procedures. I was also indoctrinated with their culture, for better or for worse. As I received instruction from the corporate trainers, it was interesting to compare the corporate position and against the reality when I got into the field. Does your culture walk the talk? In my research on Workplace Bullying and Emotional Intelligence (doctorate dissertation), an interesting continuum emerged in the research. It seems that cultures evolve through what is called the Incivility Continuum. Healthy cultures, where employees are engaged, trust their supervisors, and demonstrate high motivation and performance, and experience emotional safety at work. This means they feel free from constant criticism, sarcasm, judging, hovering etc., so they are free to be authentic, creative, innovative, and even make a mistake without fear of retribution. Making a mistake can be a cultural dynamic if handled with civility and emotional intelligence. Cultures that permit incivility lose employee commitment (engagement) because trust is lost. Employees who lack trust, also report diminished motivation and performance. Innovation suffers and turnover increases. The Incivility Continuum was discovered as the conduit to workplace bullying, harassment and eventually homicide and suicide. (1) It starts with inappropriate behavior, bad manners, poor phone etiquette, lack of common courtesies, leaving the coffee pot empty, leaving trash around, crude or foul language. (2) Next is Incivility: rude or unsociable speech or behavior, name calling, constant criticism, sarcasm, mocking, selectively withholding information to individuals, constant pranks on specific people or groups of people. (3) Disrespect follows, which is contempt, scorn, disregard, and disdain. The escalation process is not overnight, but over weeks and months at first. When fully entrenched into a corporate culture, no one is safe and the cultural leaders brag about their behavior, acting like being disrespectful is a right of passage to lower echelons of employees. Employees, at this point, are now objects, and the means justify the ends. At this point, the level of stress to the targets starts impacting their health. Health costs increase, employee time off slows down production, fellow employees need to cover absent or disengaged targets. The employee(s) will start spending time avoiding the perpetrator(s). (4) If disrespectful behavior continues for six months or more, it is consider Workplace Bullying. The abusive conduct now becomes an identity threat to the target(s) and 52% of the day is spent avoiding the bully. Witnesses of the behavior have it as bad or worse than the target because they fear they will be next. Statistically, they are correct. Witnesses will also spend more than half their day in avoidance behavior. Productions drops, engagement lowers again, and more coworkers recognize what's going on. The entire department fears for their safety and well being. Sixty-one percent of the targets will lose their jobs at a cost of 2x their salary. At this point, despair sets in and suicide is a viable alternative. (5) Harassment, battery, and homicide follow. Going "Postal" is the popular term and the media usually fails to report the "rest of the story" about the culture of the organization that just experienced an employee going "Postal." Although step 5 is the exception, research has clearly established the reality that incivility in any organization will eventually lead to workplace bullying. The solution starts with civility. I was recently asked in a radio interview "So Richard, are you seriously indicating that we need to teach civility at work? Don't we already know how to be civil?" The answers are "YES & NO" respectively. Our current culture does not teach, model, or understand civility. We have become complacent in our manners, speech, and social skills. We are experts at mile wide relationships about an inch deep. We have no substance to our relationships and it manifests itself in the workplace with an absence of social skills (Emotional Intelligence) and 65 million U.S. workers impacted by workplace bullying in 2014. Civility is taught in the construct of Emotional Intelligence. In his best-selling book "Mindsight" Dr. Siegel provides a profound, but simplistic approach to creating safe space with anyone. He uses a 4 S's approach. The formula is S + S + S = S S = safe (this means one is safe from unsolicited criticism, judging, hover, intimidation, incivility, rudeness, harassment, manipulation, retribution, etc., so one is free to be authentic, innovative, creative, productive and make a mistake without fear of retribution) S = seen (this means a person feels felt. They are understood and listened to. Every human has a voice, but in cultures where incivility reigns, they don't feel safe to express their voice.) S = soothe (this means a person is able to go from being triggered or frazzled, to being calm. Diffusing emotionally laden employees or meetings is a skill set.) S = secure (this means there is mutual trust and respect present. This is the cultural goal.) In my training, I've seen departments, teams, and executives get the spirit of civility and their paradigms dramatically change when they become self-aware of the Communication Blind Spots that permeate their behavior. As a side effect, this training has saved multiple marriages because the employees take the training home and share it with their families. Can your employees take home their current version of employee training and improve their families?