Client Service Minute: Civility And Service

By Pace Law | September 17, 2013

Client service tips from Paul Alisauskas – Pace Law Firm: We hear quite a bit about the growth of incivility in the work place. Recent research suggests it is indeed on the rise. One startling finding about the implications of incivility (or “disrespectful” behaviour) is that while 94% of people who are subjected to disrespectful words and actions retaliate against the offender, 88% will get even with the organization as well. This has enormous potential implications for both our internal and internal clients.

When you think about incivility, you might be tempted to think in terms or remarks or exchanges that are offensive or rude. This is an artificially restrictive view of what it means to be uncivil, particularly in the hyper-connected world we now live in.

As but one small example, I recall one of the attendees at an initial client service training session spending almost the entire time fully engaged with a smartphone, glancing up only occasionally. The message this would send to most people, myself included, was “You are not important enough to command my attention right now and I have better things to do with my time.” You might be tempted to rationalize this sort of behaviour as ‘necessary’ in today’s business environment. You would be dead wrong to conclude it’s acceptable to the party subjected to it.

It’s not enough to “mind your p’s and q’s” when interacting with both clients and co-workers; hidden messages of disrespect, such as attributing priority to your smartphone, are corrosive, cumulative and damaging both to our internal work environment and to your image with clients.

I’m going to be addressing some of the hidden messages of incivility in future postings. But in the meantime, take a moment to think about whether you’re unknowingly sowing the hidden seeds of disrespect and reaping a harvest of resentment in your own work environment.