The Simplest Way to Get Ahead in Your Career: Be Civil.

The Simplest Way to Get Ahead in Your Career: Be Civil.

The Simplest Way to Get Ahead in Your Career: Be Civil.

We recently ran a poll asking our audience if they are showing up as the person they want to be.  

Whether you realize it or not, you’re showing who you are every day through your actions.  

This statistic impacts workplace environments.  

How you show up and treat people means everything in your journey to success. Your workplace character also influences the success of others. Incivility in the workplace has a chain reaction effect proven to lose companies’ money, talent, and innovative ideas. 

Nice Guys Don’t Finish Last.  

Nice guys finish first, it’s a principle backed by research. According to civility researcher Christine Porath, treating people with respect creates more productive work environments and boosts companies’ bottom lines. Even small gestures of politeness performed throughout the day lead to lasting positive change. Alternatively, negative workplace interactions have a major effect in every aspect of a business.  


How much of an impact can incivility really make?

Christine Porath, the tenured professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and the author of Mastering Civility, launched a study among business school alumni asking them to write a few sentences about one experience where they were treated: rudely, disrespectfully or insensitively in their workplace and to answer questions about how they reacted.  The results showed that these interactions made each employee much less motivated within their jobs.  

So much so that:  

How much of an impact can incivility really make? 

After Christine Porath published these results, she immediately received calls from numerous organizations. Cisco read about the study, took just a few numbers and estimated, conservatively, that incivility indeed was costing them over 12 million dollars a year.  

This study went on to prove that incivility doesn’t only affect the person experiencing it – it affects anyone witnessing it. 

Those witnessing incivility had worse performance and fewer ideas.  

The Simplest Way to Get Ahead in Your Career: Be Civil.

Is Workplace Civility that Significant?  

Following Christine Porath’s study, researchers in Israel discovered medical teams exposed to workplace rudeness perform worse not only in all their diagnostics but in all the procedures they did. This was mainly because the teams exposed to rudeness didn’t share information as readily, and they stopped seeking help from their teammates. This occurs not only in medicine but in all industries. 

Incivility affects our:  

  • Our emotions 
  • Motivation 
  • Performance 
  • How we treat others Our Attention 
  • Our brainpower 
  • Our Focus  
  • Our Decision-making  

This can be a big deal, especially when it comes to life-and-death situations. Christine Porath shares in her Ted Talk:  

“Steve, a physician, told me about a doctor that he worked with who was never very respectful, especially to junior staff and nurses. But Steve told me about this one particular interaction where this doctor shouted at a medical team. Right after the interaction, the team gave the wrong dosage of medication to their patient. Steve said the information was right there on the chart, but somehow everyone on the team missed it. He said they lacked the attention or awareness to take it into account. Simple mistake, right? Well, that patient died.” — Christine Porath 

Small Things Make a Big Difference. 

Incivility chips away at people and their performance. It robs people of their potential, even if they’re just working around it. Civility lifts people. People give more and function at their best when in a civil environment. Research proves, when we have more civil environments, everyone is more productive, creative, helpful, happy and healthy. 

Simply thanking people, sharing credit, listening attentively, humbly asking questions, acknowledging others and smiling has an impact and promotes a better work environment for everyone.  

In Conclusion, How You Show Up Matters. 

The way you show up matters not only to your success but to others’ success as well. Try not to underestimate the effect of a simple action. Newton said it best: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Become the person who starts the positive ripple within someone’s day. For you never know what one single action can lead to.  



  1. Research on friends at work: Olivet Nazarene University Dec. 8, 2022 
  1. Christine Porath: Why being respectful to your coworkers is good for business | TED Talk  


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