Company culture is a key ingredient at DCR. It drives us to innovate faster than our competitors. It keeps our customers happy because we can respond to them immediately, not go through some corporate maze of approvals. It allows the flexibility to work our job around our family lives. But…that same casual culture can lead to blurred lines when it comes to maintaining professionalism.
What can we do about it? “Even in a casual office, you have to be aware that you need to maintain your professionalism at work,” says Juliana Vasquez, Payroll Supervisor. “You’re going to interact with other people from many departments on a daily basis – sometimes during urgent or stressful situations – but you have to remain respectful, calm and courteous.”
Mutual respect leaves no room for a toxic environment. It eliminates bullying, doesn’t tolerate chronic complainers and creates an environment of trust. Everyone from the top down speaks and acts in a respectful way toward ALL members of the team as well as toward customers. A respectful tone is used at all times. After all, it’s not always what you say; it’s how you say it!
Here are some tips for maintaining professionalism in a casual culture:
I’ve always said that communication is one of the most important life skills you can master. You spend years learning reading, writing, speaking; yet little is spent on listening, understanding, relating. “Seek first to understand, then to be understood,” states Stephen Covey in his best-seller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
This point is critical because if you’re like most people, you want to get your point across! Be heard! Fix the problem! But in doing so, you’re possibly being rude, potentially ignoring the other person and probably being reactive. By listening, asking critical questions and focusing on the answers, you can have a meaningful conversation without blame, angst or aggravation.
“Offer respect routinely,” says Stephen Post, Ph.D., in his book Why Good Things Happen to Good People: How to Live a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life by the Simple Act of Giving. “Offering to respect others and respecting ourselves can reduce the overall load of stress on us all.”
To get to a high level of respect for each other, you have to shift your mindset from yourself and your needs (or even the customer’s needs) to a new understanding that we’re all in this together, and we’re all working for the common good.
Civility is simply doing things with kindness. At work, we have to be civil to each other, even – or perhaps especially – in the face of important issues or in the event of a crisis “since even a moment of rudeness contains contempt, lack of civility frays our lives,” Post says.
I love that image of a fraying life because that’s often exactly what happens. Like a cuff on a sleeve that starts with a tiny fray, small and unnoticed…yet eventually it becomes tattered and ragged making the shirt unwearable. Life, too, can be like that. It starts with a seemingly insignificant inconsideration that becomes the “new normal” which then leads to greater infractions or “frays” until we have lost our civility. It breeds contempt. It’s unacceptable.
Post’s grandfather’s first wife was none other than the infamous Emily Post, the definitive author of the book on manners: Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home. Etiquette, which many people think has gone by the way of the horse and buggy, needs an overhaul. Start with basic civility.
A more profound experience of respect is acceptance. While tolerance and civility can be rational choices, acceptance runs deeper and is more emotional, requiring an intimacy and listening. Post says, “When we accept, we affirm the preferences and experiences of the other as meaningful.”
You need to accept the fact that yours is not the only reality and there may be extenuating issues you don’t know anything about until you ask those questions and listen with the intent to find a solution together, not point fingers in the blame game.
Once you begin to focus on communication, respect, civility and acceptance, you’ll notice that you can reach a synergy. My parents always told me, “Two heads are better than one.” When two people interact together, gain insight and value differences, a synergistic approach can take place. As Covey says, “Synergize is the habit of creative cooperation.” It’s the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
To reach a solution, you need gold old-fashioned teamwork. To reach an innovative solution, you need synergy to find new solutions to recurring problems. It’s a process where, together, you produce far better results than you would have individually.
What does maintaining R-E-S-P-E-C-T at work mean to you?
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