Embracing Civility

The REAL Healthcare Reform!

Category: Civility in the News

Free For Nurses’ Week . . . [last day to enter]

newcover.inddHey Nurses!  It’s National Nurses’ Week and we’d like to say “THANK YOU!”  From now until Monday, May 12th, we’re giving away free, signed copies of our book!

It’s pretty easy.  Just follow these three quick steps:

1.  Leave a comment below, (where it says “Join the Conversation”) telling us why you love being a nurse.

2.  Fill out this form so we know where to send your book.


3.  Pay it Forward. When you are done reading the book, pass it on to another nurse who you think may benefit from reading it.

Please Note: You must leave a comment below and send us your address in form above in order to receive your free book.

Scrubs Magazine Explores Toxic Nursing Relationships

The Fall 2013 issue of Scrubs Magazine began investigating the growing problem of incivility in the healthcare workplace.  We were interviewed and our Self Awareness Quiz was included in an article called “Build Emotional Resistance.”

We’re happy to see Scrubs Magazine is taking it even further!  The Spring 2014 issue covered examples of toxic relationships. And now, their website has even more for you to chew on!

5 articles you can’t miss on toxic nursing (via http://scrubsmag.com/)

Feeling like someone at work is out to get you? Dealing more with politics than your patients? Are you a new nurse who can’t get anything right…at least, if your coworkers are to be believed? You might be in a toxic work environment. In the Spring…

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What change do you want to be a part of?

We were honored to be contacted this week by Tomas Spath and Cassandra Dahnke from The Institute for Civility in Government. Although our target audience is different (politicians for them, healthcare for us), our platform is the same. Our common goal: Civility.

Those of you who have read our book, “The REAL Healthcare Reform” may already recognize The Institute for Civility in Government. They inspired our thoughts about civility with their “definition.” They were, and continue to be a great inspiration to us!

If you are not already aware of their work, philosophy and goals, please see the Editorial Letter re-printed below. If you have an interest in restoring civility to public and political discourse, please contact The Institute and find out how you can begin to make a difference in your own community.


An Editorial Letter from
Tomas Spath and Cassandra Dahnke
The Institute for Civility in Government.

Things change.  That’s what they say.  And indeed they do.  Technology changes.  Norms change.  Culture changes.  Laws change over time.  Some of the change is good, and some – not so much.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.   That’s what they say.  Some people lead.  Others follow.  Everyone is in it for themselves.  Greed abounds.  Corruption is real.  The world is always at war somewhere.  People are essentially kind.

Which truth is true?  Both?  Neither?  One or the other?  One more than the other?  The way you answer those questions says a lot about the way you approach life.

If you believe that the more things change, the more they stay the same, you probably don’t have much incentive to get involved in a whole lot beyond your personal space.  Why bother?  It’s not going to make a difference anyway.

If you believe things change, you may say that civility is old fashioned and has lost its place as a priority.  You may believe civility is quaint, weak – a social “nicety” with no real purpose.  The world has moved on.

Or, if you believe things change, you may want to roll up your sleeves and do something to counteract the growing polarization in this country.  You may want to help restore civility to our communities and nation.  You may want to (gasp!) get involved and make a difference!

We decided to do just that when we became aware that in this country we, as a society, lack the basic skills and will to maintain civility with one another even in the midst of disagreement.  It isn’t that we immediately get ugly and hateful and angry (although we do that with alarming frequency).  But as often as not, once we discover we fundamentally disagree with someone else we shut down, conversation stops, and we walk away – never to relate on anything more than a superficial level again, if that.

So we launched the Institute for Civility in Government – a grassroots, non-partisan, non-profit organization whose purpose is to teach civility skills and give voice to all those who long to shift the culture from one of polarization and antagonism to one of mutual respect and cooperative effort.  Yes – give voice to Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Independents – everyone!  The Institute doesn’t take a position on anyone or any issue.  We just say we need to do this thing called governing – at any and all levels – better.  And the good news is we can!

We can give other people a chance to be heard without shouting them down, calling them names, or tuning them out.  We can express our own viewpoints from the strength of our own position rather than by the weaknesses of someone else’s.  We can operate on the trust that most of us truly want the best for our city, state and country, even if we don’t always agree on what the best is.  We can model the behavior we teach our children – to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

What is civility?  We define civility as “claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs, and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process.”  It’s not about giving in just to get along, but claiming our own beliefs even as we respectfully allow others to claim theirs.  That doesn’t sound so very difficult, does it?  And yet it seems to elude us.

What is at stake?  What difference does it make if we yell and scream and call other people names?  Well, for one thing – words are formative.  Disagreeing with someone can easily slide into disliking them.  Disliking them can easily slide into demonizing them.  Demonizing them can easily slide into victimizing them.  It’s a slippery slope that the human community has traveled down too many times already, and it’s time to stop.  It’s time to hold to a standard of civility – not because it is the law, but because it is the national will.

While it is unfortunate that we have reached a time and place where we must organize for civility, we evidently have.  Yet the good news is that as more and more people give voice to their support for civility, it will become politically expedient for our elected officials to model the behavior we expect.

If we cannot listen and speak with one another with respect, there is little else we can accomplish together.  And if we don’t practice civility everywhere, the day may soon come when we cannot find civility anywhere.

Change doesn’t happen by itself.  People make it happen – for better or for worse.  What change do you want to be a part of?


Please visit www.instituteforcivility.org for
more inforation about this great organization!

If there was a penalty for being rude . . .

incivility, civility, bullying, workplace bullying, change.orgHow would you feel if the government decided to regulate your attitude? If there was a penalty for being rude, unkind, short-tempered or mean, would you be guilty?

What if there was a monetary fine or even jail time for bullying? Would you quickly find yourself broke and/or behind bars?

– In Australia, one Union is pushing for mandatory jail time for workplace bullies.

– A bill in the Philippines, known as the “Anti Cyber Bullying Act of 2012″ seeks to penalize violators with a fine of 50,000 to 100,000 Philippine Pesos (that’s $1,100 to $2,300 USD) and imprisonment for six months to six years.

– Forty nine states in the US now have laws against bullying that allow victims to sue their employer for failing to prevent or punish workplace abusers.

– The Joint Commission has determined that “behaviors that undermine a culture of safety” are now considered a Sentinel Event and requires several new Leadership Standards, including requirements to provide education that focuses on civility and professionalism for all persons.

Look, no one likes to be TOLD what to do. And certainly, we don’t need to be nagged, reprimanded or reminded to “be nice.” And, while it may be difficult to admit that you have behaved in an uncivil way, most of us have been judgmental, jealous, rude or even short-tempered at one time or another.

Unfortunately, these behaviors are extremely contagious, and over time can infect an individual, a team, and an entire organization.

Today we face a worldwide, growing epidemic of incivility and SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE!

Let’s not wait for our employers and our government to tell us how to behave. We can do this on our own. Each of us has the power to turn this problem around . . . and we can do it one person at a time. Let’s start a grassroots movement to restore civility to our workplaces, schools and public discourse, TODAY!

All you have to do is make a few basic changes in the way you interact with others. When you do this, your positive behaviors will go “viral!”

It works because just as rude and uncivil behaviors beget more rudeness and incivility, your kind, considerate and civil behaviors will bring about more kindness and civility!

Try it . . . you’ll see! Be sure to check back and let us know how it’s working for you!


The REAL Healthcare Reform is now available for Your Kindle

The REAL Healthcare Reform for Kindle

Alright, Kindle lovers—you asked for it, and we heard you! Now you can get “The REAL Healthcare Reform: How Embracing Civility Can Beat Back Burnout and Revive Your Healthcare Career” on your Kindle e-book reader and any of the free Kindle apps for other devices.

We’re so excited that healthcare professionals worldwide are now able to read the book on their Kindles and free Kindle reading apps. This is particularly good news for our friends in Australia, UK, New Zealand, India and Canada who have been hindered by high shipping costs.

Go to Amazon.com today to get your copy wireless delivered to your device!

The Word ‘Bully’ Causes a Collective Clam-up

workplace bullying, incivility, workplace incivility, civility training, adult bully, bullyingWhat’s the best way to get people to STOP discussing the problem of workplace bullying? Just use the word ‘bully.’

This year’s 8th International Conference on Workplace Bullying and Harassment presented many new studies on the definition, the extensiveness and the consequences of bullying in the workplace. However, an unintended discovery emerged amongst the research.

As it turns out, many of the scholars who study workplace bullying found that they routinely came up empty handed when they tried to interview employees about this taboo topic. It seems that the word ‘bully’ causes people to clam-up.

It’s not clear why people are reluctant to discuss ‘bullying.’  Perhaps it causes fear in those who have experienced or witnessed bullying. Maybe it just makes people uncomfortable. Maybe it leads the bullies to become resentful, defensive or paranoid.  Whatever the reason, it does no good to close the door on the conversation.

This realization led researchers down a completely novel path.  Instead of asking workers about ‘bullying,’ they asked their subjects to describe ‘incivility’—and it worked! Researchers that used the word ‘bully’ found employees that were reluctant to discuss or even acknowledge the problem, while those that used the term ‘incivility’ got employees to open up.

What does this mean for organizations that battle the problem of workplace bullying?

We already know you can’t change problem behaviors or reverse a toxic culture unless you get it out in the open and talk about it. And, now we know that the best way to get people to talk about it is to substitute the word ‘bully’ with the term ‘incivility.’ Sounds simple enough, right?

With that in mind, it’s important to remember that bullying is still a major issue in the workplace that can have devastating emotional effects on workers and costly financial consequences for employers. However, to reframe it (and keep the conversation open) ‘bullying’ can be categorized under the larger umbrella of issues related to incivility. Incivility includes:

– Using demeaning or disparaging language, gestures or behaviors, such as eye rolling and sarcasm.

– Participating in gossip or slander.

– Using fear or power to intimidate others.

– Intentionally sabotaging others.

– Bullying or using misguided power to control others.

– Putting offensive language in writing, such as in email or Facebook posts.

– Participating in “hate-ism” or targeting people based on rank, age, gender, race or sexual orientation.

What do you think? Can changing one word help change the culture in your workplace? Let us know your thoughts.  We love hearing from you.


New Method Gets Staff to Discuss Workplace Bullying, by Sybille Hildebrandt
The 8th International Conference on Workplace Bullying and Harassment -Future Challenges, Book of Proceedings

Incivility: An Issue Worth $5 Million and Some Change

If you think workplace incivility—such as name-calling, bullying and using demeaning or degrading language—is no big deal . . . think again! These behaviors, while not entirely illegal, can violate civil rights and federal employment anti-discrimination laws.   AT&T just found this out the hard way.

A jury recently ruled that AT&T created a “hostile work environment” and awarded a past employee $5.12 million in compensation.

It all started when AT&T network technician, Susann Bashir converted from Christianity to Islam—six years after she started working for the company. Once converted, Bashir started wearing a traditional head scarf. The religious symbol triggered a barrage of daily insults and threats from co-workers. They called her a “terrorist” and asked her if she was going to blow up the building. Her manager told her to remove the scarf, insulted her for wearing it, and once even physically grabbed the scarf to rip it off her head.

Bashir contacted the human resources department, but when nothing was done to protect her from the abuse, she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

During the EEOC’s investigation, Bashir asked to either be transferred or to have her manager removed. Neither request was honored. At that point, Bashir was too stressed to continue working in the abusive environment. The company responded by firing her.

This isn’t simply about religious discrimination. Susann’s co-workers had the right to their own beliefs about her religion and her head scarf. However, they had no right to act on their beliefs by belittling and bullying her. The $5 million dollar award sends a loud message to employers. Employers and employees alike have to stop tolerating this type of behavior in the workplace. Companies can spend a little money up front to put a civility training program in place, or they may end up draining their profits by paying huge settlements in court.

In an interview with her local news, Bashir said, “I think it was a victory, it was a victory for everyone, every little person who is worried about stepping forward, every person who has been harassed, it was a great victory.”

As in most cases that involve money of this magnitude, Susann may never actually get the money the jury awarded to her. AT&T is appealing the verdict and Missouri’s legislature may move to uphold a law that limits punitive damages to five times the amount of actual damages. In Susann’s case that would be $600,000. Our guess is that regardless of the final award amount, Susann will still consider herself victorious.

Stop Fighting Fire with Fire and Embrace Civility Instead

Last week, the tabloids made a fuss over Martin Short’s appearance on the Today Show. You probably heard about it. During her interview with him, Kathie Lee Gifford asked several questions about his wife, Nancy, and how they continue to sustain their long marriage, obviously unaware that Nancy had died two years ago.You can see the video below.

Mr. Short showed great composure and compassion by not bringing attention to Ms. Gifford’s error. When asked later about the interview, he made the following statement:

“I think that it’s live television and people make mistakes and there’s no ill will intended.”

Several days later, I noticed a blog entitled “A Golden Rule Tutorial by Martin Short” on a site that prides itself on pointing out ethical problems and dilemmas from all segments of society. The author of the blog praised Mr. Short by saying, “Short is a good man, a nice guy, and an ethical human being. He did the right thing.” Fair enough. I agree completely with that assessment.

However, before reaching that conclusion, the author blasted Ms. Gifford. Here are a few of his statements about her:

“…his host, the flighty Kathy Lee Gifford, could not reasonably be expected to uphold the basic standards of professional journalism.”

“Gifford then went into full Kathy Lee mode, which resembles a boa constrictor squeezing a goat.”

“…maybe she will stop being lazy and make sure she is prepared for live interviews so she doesn’t mistreat her future guests the way she did Martin Short.”

” [Short] had not one but two opportunities to make Gifford look like the fool she is…”

Don’t you find it ironic that someone who blogs about ethics and evokes the Golden Rule would be so unkind? By responding to the situation with insults, the author breached his own definition of what was right. He countered Ms. Gifford’s unintentional incivility with purposeful put-downs–an all to common occurrence in our society. As long as we continue to “fight fire with fire” in this manner, incivility will spread and thrive.

Of course, the author is entitled to his opinion about Ms. Gifford. Most of us would probably agree that her interview questions showed a lack of preparedness. But, Mr. Short got it right when he said, “…there’s no ill will intended.” He realized that Ms. Gifford did not set out to hurt him with her questions. The author of the ethics blog could learn a lesson from Mr. Short. Obviously, his intention in insulting Ms. Gifford was to hurt her. Perhaps in the future, he might consider embracing civility (and the Golden Rule) instead.


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