163: (In)Civility in the Workplace with Robin Rosenberg

Everyone deserves to work in a respectful environment but what does that really mean? Unfortunately, incivility in the workplace is not uncommon. Whether it’s aimed at a specific person or more generally disrespectful behavior, incivility can sour any team dynamic. It’s a manager’s responsibility to foster civility which can transform an employee’s daily experience.

Today’s guest is Robin Rosenberg. Robin is the CEO and Founder of Live in Their World, a company that uses, in part, virtual reality to address issues of bias and incivility and upskill employees for respectful engagement. Robin is a clinical psychologist and is board certified in clinical psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Clinical Psychology. She has taught psychology classes at Harvard University and Lesley University.

Robin has combined her interest in immersive technologies with her coaching and clinical experiences to foster in employees a deeper understanding of how and why other people may feel slighted or marginalized, and how to approach such interactions differently.

Robin and I talk about civility and incivility in the workplace, the difference between general disrespect and microaggressions, and how to respond when you notice disrespectful behavior on your team.

Members get Robin’s Best Practices for Giving and Receiving Feedback. To become a member go to themodernmanager.com/join. If you work for a government or nonprofit agency, you get 20% off any membership level.

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Website: www.liveintheirworld.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/29341962

Read the related blog article: How Managers Can Encourage Greater Civility In the Workplace

Key Takeaways:

  • Civility is about thinking how your words and actions can impact others, and adjusting your behavior accordingly.
  • “Theory of Mind” are stories we make up of how other people will hear and respond to something we say or do.
  • Understanding the need to monitor yourself is not a new concept for marginalized people but is for others.
  • Incivility is low level, frequent acts of disrespect, including interrupting and cracking hurtful jokes.
  • Microaggressions are disrespectful behaviors based on one’s personal group identity.
  • Take turns at meetings being the “process person” taking note of problematic behavior and helping the group act more effectively and respectfully.
  • Decide as a team what respectful behavior looks like and put these guidelines on every agenda.
  • Support employees who complain about disrespectful behavior and ask if/how they want you to be involved.
  • Bring in the offender and ask how they experienced the situation. If they apologize, brainstorm how to support them in the future. If they refuse to change, get HR involved.
  • Check in with your colleague if you notice disrespectful behavior directed toward them.


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