I "Got" To vs. I "Get" To

leadership Oct 31, 2022

We get it, the sun is shining, your teacher friends are on the golf course, your kids are at the beach, and you have a work deadline.

Whether it’s the long-ingrained concept of ‘Summer Vacation’ or just the actual reality of dealing with the heat, complaining, grumpiness, and pessimism can eat away at your company culture during the Summer.

It might seem like a minor annoyance at first, but small slights, little moments of rudeness, and a tendency towards pessimism can actually hurt your bottom line. 

If you’re not familiar with the tangible and intangible costs of workplace rudeness, Dr. Christine Porath’s research on workplace incivility dives into how workplace rudeness generates lack of productivity, disengagement, absenteeism, and turnover.

Her deep dive into the Effects of Workplace Incivility outlines key findings, insights, consequences, and other resources to learn more, including a 2018 Ted Talk for those of you who prefer a more auditory approach to learning.

Working to bring effective communication, manners, and positive language to your workplace is foundational for thriving employees and growth-oriented businesses.

Can you hear the difference between “I got to” and “I get to”?

                        I got to go to this conference

                        I get to go to this conference

Subtle language tweaks make all the difference. You, as a manager, can be a driving force for improving communication habits.

In our experience with people that can be complainers, is that they’re not necessarily negative people. These complainers can lose sight of the goal but have developed bad communication habits.

So, how do you handle these complainers? Sharing from our 1,000 Seconds webcast, Transforming Whiners to Winners, here are some ways you can handle a conversation:

  1. Listen and nod. Let them share first.
  2. Validate, sympathize, deflect, redirect. Use active listening skills to learn about their frustration without becoming defensive or praising their words.
  3. Keep advice brief and to the point. Ask them how they intend to fix their problem. (PROBLEM SOLVE skillfully: ID, Causes, Options, Action Plan)
  4. If you want to disagree, do it right. Ask, "Do you want my opinion?; Use the "Art of Inquiry".
  5. Don't ever tell them that things "aren't so bad."
  6. Resist complaining about complainers (Either with other managers or with them).

Many of these individuals won’t even realize they are in the habit of pointing out flaws, but the way they share their feedback prevents both managers and other teammates from using their feedback constructively. 

A question Larry might ask is, “ Do you understand that you’re losing people at Hello?”

Complainers are not inherently bad, but they don’t realize the impact. A 2021 article by Edie-Louise Diemar outlines the effect just witnessing rudeness has on your company.

This supports Porath’s work, stating witnessing rudeness reduces our creativity, impacts our memory, and can alter our decision-making skills.

A surprising new component for managers to consider?

Virtual rudeness can be worse and harder to spot. As people habituate to working from home, they forget the social etiquette and accountability needed for productive interpersonal communication (This term is coined toxic online disinhibition for those interested in learning more).

Courageously addressing workplace complaining and rudeness this Summer can be the difference-maker in keeping people on track, thriving, and working towards your common goals.

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