What Business Minds Theirs

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Civility is on the minds of the new administration. Bringing unity to a divided country which encounters hate, disparity, and racism can only be done through respect and a greater tolerance for differences.

Where does uncivilized speech and behavior happen most frequently? A person might think that it occurs as an unexpected outburst between two individuals in a social setting or waiting in line somewhere in public. Although this is likely to happen occasionally, more typically, uncivilized speech is found thousands of times a day in retail stores, public places, and in workplace settings. Essentially the business space at any level has been affected by inappropriate speech. HR policy manuals, customer service expectations, successful team strategies, and good business practices are all thrown out the window. Managers and business owners do not hold employees accountable for what is said. Employees may claim they are practicing freedom of speech to be able to say whatever they want to customers or other employees. Freedom of speech does not prevent hate speech, however the right should be exercised in such a way that there is respect for all rather than hatred spoken. In most situations, it should be considered unthinkable to speak words of hate, insult, or gossip.

What used to be considered as bad business is now standard and acceptable. The way employees address customers has changed considerably. Thinking back on the first jobs I ever held, I would never have considered to speak inappropriately at work. It was drilled into me that only talking about work related business was acceptable at work, and speaking of anything outside of that was putting myself at risk of losing my job. Likewise, the expectation to always be available and eager to help customers, was the standard. It was unthinkable to be rude and inconsiderate to a customer, let alone insult them. Nowadays, businesses are easily influenced by anyone inside or outside the business, to communicate any propaganda that is encouraged even if it is not relevant to the business. Like parrots, they repeat whatever is told, at the expense of the business’ reputation.

I’ve experienced this from different perspectives. Having worked in retail stores, I have heard propaganda spread from employees out to customers at every register to every customer coming through the line or walking into the store. Inappropriate communication travels unsolicited from employees to customer more than in reverse. As a customer who frequents the malls and many local stores, I hear insults and gossip all day long. I have held almost every kind of job working at large companies, mid-sized and small companies, in restaurants, and in warehouses, as well as on a freelance business. In each of these settings it has been a problem with gossip spreading and name calling. Despite filling out feedback forms, nothing is done to rectify these awful experiences. If you are the most loyal customer, it does not matter. The loyalty is with the person who suggests damaging words must be said. Employees and managers do not protect their business by refusing to participate. Rather than focus on having exceptional etiquette and professionalism and customer service skills, they rather be the source of gossip and stone throwing.

I think retail stores and the workplace is a very good place to start cleaning up culture with civility. It is a big task to reverse rudeness in the workplace back to professionalism, especially when this generation defines professionalism so poorly. It starts with each individual making a choice to be respectful in how they speak and act toward everyone. By doing this we as a nation can revert back to a higher standard of civility.

In my opinion the administration can impact a higher degree of civility by fining businesses that spread gossip and propaganda. A nationwide civility program can be put together to encourage all walks of life to step up to a higher level of respect and tolerance for one another. People need to be educated on the damage that can occur from hate speech. Intolerance for others, causes disunity which leads to racism, prejudice, and civil war outbreaks. It’s beyond being a “color” war. It’s an off-color communication issue for all races that needs to be reeled in. A rebirth of civilized culture in the United States is everyone’s business.

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