Professional civility redefines what it means to work and reframes problematic relationships in the workplace as opportunities for reclaiming the common good of profession (DeIuliis & Flinko, 2016). Finally, a public organization must admit limits: public obligations to one another do not assure private fulfillment. While professional civility and its policies and guidelines for behavior discourages and advises against specific actions, outbursts, behaviors and engagements, the organizations using this practice must accept that they cannot control the private actions of their employees. The use of sanctions such as termination of contract, suspensions without pay and extended leave without pay are a few policies that can discourage private engagements that contrast the guidelines of civility that is expected by the organization.
Considering the limitations of the organization in preventing problematic issues, insight and consideration has to be given to corrective strategies. In the text ‘Problematic Relationships in the Workplace’, Fritz and Omdahl make mention to a number of strategies that preserve workplace friendships. In the case of using a corrective strategy, the ‘state-of-the-relationship talk’ is a great tool that can be used to manage emotion. This strategy recommends ‘a conversation during which the partners agree to terminate the friendship aspect of their relationship to preserve the coworker relationship at a functional level’ (Fritz & Omdahl, 2009). Let us take for instance a disagreement between two employees. Mark, who is a flight attendant and Julie, who serves as his immediate supervisor, have a misunderstanding due to her inability to arrange his desired work roster. Mark asked to have his day off moved from Tuesdays to Mondays about three weeks ago. Mark is contracted to work six days and have one day off each week. Julie assured Mark that his roster would be arranged as he wished in the immediate week following his request. Julie has failed to deliver on her assurances she gave to Mark. Mark is furious, he has been asking Julie for details about his request and has not received any satisfying answers to his many questions. Instead, Julie continues to tell Mark, she is working on it. In an environment where incivility is the norm, Mark could lash out at Julie, chiding her for the lack of communication and apparent incompetence. This would be as a result of trust violated, the unmet need for proper communication and the failure of Julie to live up to the expectation she created for herself by assuring Mark it would be dealt with.
According to Davenport, Sypher and Gill, ‘a violation of trust in any of these spheres leads to incivility or acting rudely or discourteously without regard for others, in violation of norms of respect in social interaction” (as cited in Delulius & Flinko, 2012, p. 88). In an environment guided by the concept of professional civility, Mark would instead continue to wait for his roster to be changed, continue to question his supervisor and channel his negative emotions elsewhere, in an environment that does not affect the workplace relationship. Uncivil discourses are discouraged in a civil workplace environment, but when they do occur, having all parties involved sitting down and talking about what has happened, what has caused the event that happened and how they all feel about it helps. The most uncertain element is having the parties agreeing to maintain a functional working environment. The ‘state of the relationship talk’ encourages this; however, it does not provide guaranteed success in all areas. In an effort to bolster and substantiate this emotion management tool, I would introduce policies and clauses for termination, solicit the support of employees and enforce these policies and clauses on new hires the moment they sign their respective agreements accepting an offer from the company. These policies would ensure that if an employee refuses to maintain a functional work relationship with another employee with whom they have had a disagreement, they would then be liable to be relieved of their duties or face other sanctions such as suspensions from work as a result of their refusal. The other party involved would have to face sanctions as well, to ensure that transparency is maintained. A system of rewards would be encouraged as well as, possibly having all the model employees of each month gaining access to priority parking at work. ‘Even lighthearted awards like these can be powerful symbols of the importance of civility’ (Porath & Pearson, 2013). These policies along with each emotion management tool outlined should instill a new organizational culture in the workplace, resulting in a harmonious and productive working environment filled with employees who are equipped enough to manage and manipulate their emotional labor to the advancement of the organization.
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