Incivility in the Workplace

What It Is and Why You Need to Manage It In Your Organisation

Let’s start by asking ourselves a few questions:

  • IN EMAILS: when I receive messages which seem off-task and abrupt, do I respond in the same manner?
  • IN MEETINGS: do I work on my computer or smartphone and ignore my colleagues?
  • IN CONVERSATIONS: do I make condescending or demeaning comments in the workplace e.g. correcting/ reprimanding someone in public, share anecdotes about co-workers that cast a negative light on their abilities, performance or personality, make rude comments?
  • IN PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIPS: if I find someone difficult to work with, do I roll my eyes or give him/ her dirty looks on occasion, or give the silent treatment?
  • IN SHARED WORKSPACES: do I leave my dirty dishes/ utensils in the office kitchen sink or neglect to pick up after myself in shared spaces?

Feeling uncomfortable yet?

Workplace incivility is a prevalent issue and presents a unique challenge because it is ambiguous in nature. It is defined by Anderson and Pearson (1999) as “…low-intensity deviant behavior with ambiguous intent to harm the target, in violation of workplace norms for mutual respect. Uncivil behaviors are characteristically rude and discourteous, displaying a lack of regard for others.” These behaviors are easily deflected – “I didn’t mean it”, “He had the wrong impression” or “She’s just oversensitive”.

By exploring these, we can gain insights into how we approach the issue of incivility in the workplace. Perhaps you have been on the receiving end of such uncivil behaviors. How did you react or respond?

Effects of Workplace Incivility

Those who are on the receiving end may cope in a variety of ways: avoiding or working around the person who is uncivil, engage in passive aggressive behaviors, and may engage in uncivil behaviors.

The accrued minor stresses of incivility may lead employees to miss work, lessen their loyalty to their organizations, lower their level of job satisfaction and prompt them to consider leaving their organizations. Even those who are onlookers can be negatively affected as well. There is a cost to organizations in lost productivity, increased conflict and absenteeism.

What Can We Do?

Although we cannot change others’ behaviors, following are four practical steps to help ourselves, our colleagues and organization create a more civil and respectful workplace:

  1. MODEL: the best way to communicate the importance of civility in the workplace is to intentionally model civility ourselves. Always treat people with respect, put that phone away during meetings, lower our voices in shared offices and remember our manners no matter how we feel about our colleagues;
  2. COLLABORATE: when working in teams or departments, work collaboratively with colleagues on rules for engagement, then hold each other accountable to keep those rules. Set the culture of civility that you all agree upon and stick to it, especially when under the pressure of deadlines or other stresses;
  3. STRATEGIZE: Seek strategies or interventions that will address gaps in individual and group interpersonal skills. For instance, develop conflict management or communication skills training programs, work with staff members whose behaviors challenge those around them and plan ahead to head off possible problems before they begin;
  4. CREATE THE CULTURE: On an organizational level, support the creation of a culture that encourages respect and civility. This can be developed in part by establishing policies and codes of conduct aimed specifically at encouraging respect and discouraging incivility.

Managing and curbing the rise of incivility requires comprehensive strategies and collaboration both at the individual and corporate levels. The development and maintenance of a positive and productive work environment is critical for both personal and organizational success.

Dr Jeannie Trudel is President of CHC-Christian Heritage College and has grown organisations for more than two decades.

CHC rates among the best in national rankings

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Brisbane-based private higher education provider Christian Heritage College (CHC) continues to rank strongly against many of its large university competitors in national student ratings compiled and released by the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training.

Data on the Department’s Quality Indicators of Learning and Teaching website show CHC to perform well above the national average in terms of students’ perceptions of teaching quality, student support and graduate employment.

CHC has topped the state in “Overall Experience” with current students rating CHC as 91.1%, well above the national average of 79.8% and ahead of the next highest institution, Bond University, on 90.2%.

Teaching Quality (93.6%) also ranked above the national average (81.5%) as did Student Support (90.1% over 72.0% (national average)).

CHC graduates also rate their university experience highly with an overall satisfaction level of 92.5% against its closest competitor (89.5%) and a national average of 80.0%.

Tellingly, 84.1% of CHC’s graduates were in full-time employment, with the national average of 70.6% and leading Queensland universities on 72% (QUT) and 73.3% (University of Queensland).

CHC President, Dr Jeannie Trudel, is encouraged by the strong ratings.

“We are delighted to be rated so favourably alongside the large public providers, so that students have genuine data to make decisions about their institution of choice,” said Dr Trudel.

“Through small class sizes and personal attention by our dedicated staff, CHC has always had a focus on the needs and outcomes of the students.”

“Private providers like CHC bring diversity to higher education by providing a genuine alternative for both school-leavers and mature-age students seeking to advance their skills and employment outcomes.”

Full data can be accessed at the Government’s Quality Indicators for Teaching and Learning (QILT) website –

A presentation with full comparative figures for Queensland institutions can be found at

Christian Heritage College (CHC) was founded in 1986 as a Christian teachers’ college and has since graduated over 2,500 students in Education, Business, Ministry, Social Sciences and Liberal Arts. It currently has over 750 students studying full-time and part-time for Diplomas, Bachelor and postgraduate awards.


For interview and photo opportunities, contact Stuart Charlton CHC Marketing Manager on 0418 984 798 or

Destiny Seeds – Growing Leaders with Fiona Simpson MP

During a recent meeting with Dr Jeannie Trudel, Fiona Simpson MP shared her views on leadership. 

As I waited to board my plane to Sydney out of the Sunshine Coast, a fellow traveler struck up a conversation about a new cancer facility his company was bringing to my region.

It was exciting news I connected to this personally after losing my Dad to cancer last year following a bitter sweet time of caring for him through his palliative chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

As I heard about one of this company’s proposed treatments, which was the use of radioactive isotopes to targets certain types of cancer, I got thinking about a leadership parallel.

Healing takes many forms but so does leadership. There is the highly visible positional leadership with strong authority that no one can miss, a bit like the powerful cancer treatments that zap the whole body.

There is also a leadership that comes by influencing with targeted interventions, working through relationships and people.

There is a case for different leadership styles for different situations. After spending many years in State Parliament in varying roles and many in opposition, I’m well acquainted with the “101” of situational and contingency leadership theory and the need to engage strong networks and relationships to get things done, rather than rely on a title and positional power.

Furthermore as a Christian in politics, I’ve also been influenced by the complementary biblical philosophy of “salt and light” — of being called to live out our faith in everyday life rather than confining it to a private place or within the walls of a church.

Taking these two highly relational concepts together, I believe you have the leadership style as modeled by Christ—focused on people, not just outcomes, and certainly on hearts transformed. It’s a good yard stick to follow.

However, I am very aware that many  view success as gaining the top job with the title, resources and influence. How many times have I seen people hang all their identity, purpose and effort on that goal alone, finding it doesn’t satisfy or last. The exception is if they have built value into relationships—into other people—along the way.

Leadership is not a title. It’s an action. Positions can come and go but purpose doesn’t. People matter and unlocking their potential is a high call of leadership.

I’ve learned that relational leadership isn’t just about hanging out at the coffee pot but, when there are goals to be met and causes to be won, it’s strategic and lateral.

A wise mentor of mine once said to me to never under estimate the power of facilitation—to use your ability to bring people to the table, to use networks to build creative solutions and then leverage group buy-in in a coalition of support.

I have used this technique to bring teams together for projects in my local area, such as a youth justice project we built a few years ago. It proved that you can do good things with diverse people, even people who disagree on many things, if you tap the common goal.

As a Christian, I also know that we have a creator God who is very much in the business of strategic placement and “salt and light” positioning for influence.

There are seasons and causes where God requires us to navigate across organisational boundaries and even outside of the walls to achieve an outcome. Allies to a shared cause can defy traditional boxes. A lesson I have learned along the way is not to write off the unlikely collaborative heroes – those who on first blush you would think impossible allies for a worthy cause but on scratching beneath the surface and putting side personal comfort zones you find share a common cause.

As we face an increasingly secular society with changing social values, I am reminded that nothing is new under the sun. Hostility to Christ-focused life—affirming values certainly isn’t new. As a first-world country with a Judeo-Christian heritage, we have just been a bit protected from the hottest battles that many Christians and people of faith face around the world, even until death.

Seeking to stand firm and be unwavering in our faith in these times, I realise we have to purposefully guard the anchor points of our faith. To do that requires keeping a healthy margin of time to breathe, pray and reflect for a fresh download of God’s wisdom and not to neglect the fellowship of believers in order to keep the flame alight and bright.

God knows the end game. He chose to put us here at this point in history and He will equip us for the challenges of our seasons and times.

That is an exciting place and time to be as a Christian leader in whatever our vocational environment.

Lifting up Jesus, lifts up people. Christ-centred leadership that loves people unlocks the seeds of destiny that he placed in their hearts.

CHC Researcher Receives Best Paper Award at World Symposium in Samoa

Dr Johannes Luetz, senior lecturer and post-graduate course co-ordinator in the School of Social Sciences and Chair of the Research Committee, showcased CHC at the “World Symposium on Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Strategies in Coastal Communities” held in Apia, Samoa, 5-7 July, 2017.

With over 100 participants from 23 countries, the Symposium was a truly international and interdisciplinary event, mobilising scholars, social movements, practitioners and members of governmental agencies, undertaking research and/or executing climate change projects in coastal areas and working with coastal communities. Cooperating organisations included the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); the World Health Organisation (WHO); the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO); and the International Climate Change Information Programme (ICCIP).

Dr Luetz’s area of expertise is climate change and sustainability, specifically the ways environmental change impacts societal structures in poor communities, including human relationships and networks.  Global warming is predicted to result in not only sea level rises but also an increase in the intensity of extreme weather events. Worldwide, the political response to natural disasters is to provide economic assistance to deal with acute crises such as lack of housing, food, water and electricity. Whilst these are important considerations, less attention is paid to the lingering impact of these disasters on human life which may include temporary or permanent displacement, broken social networks, psychological trauma, educational disruption, lack of occupational opportunities and resultant poor living conditions and economic hardship. This is particularly the case in countries of the developing world, which struggle severely to deal with the overwhelming social impact of events such as flooding and cyclones. As a Social Scientist, Dr Luetz aims to use research to make the world a better, safer and fairer place for all, especially poor and marginalised communities.

Dr Luetz’s paper, co-authored with Tongan Ph.D. researcher P.H. Havea, “We’re not Refugees, We’ll Stay Here Until We Die!”—Climate Change Adaptation and Migration Experiences Gathered from the Tulun and Nissan Atolls of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, drew on pilot research conducted on the Carteret Islands of Bougainville/Papua New Guinea (PNG). Recognising that it is imperative that policy makers rethink adaptation responses to extreme weather events, the paper provides several recommendations in the areas of education, livelihood security and future governmental planning.

The research paper was exceptionally well received, winning 1st Prize in the category Best Paper Award, received jointly with the co-author from the University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji. The paper has since been published by Springer, one of the top five scientific publishers as a chapter in “Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Strategies for Coastal Communities”.  This is a volume of the award-winning book series “Climate Change Management”, which since its creation in 2008 has become the world’s leading peer-reviewed book series on this topic.

Those interested in further information please contact Dr Luetz ( )

Changes to FEE-HELP in 2018

In 2017, the Commonwealth parliament passed the Education Legislation Amendment (Provider Integrity and Other Measures) Act 2017.

Under this legislation, students who undertake eight or more units as part of a bachelor or higher-level qualification (bachelor, graduate diploma, masters), or four or more units as part of a sub-bachelor qualification (diploma, associate degree), must pass at least 50% of these units to remain eligible for a FEE-HELP loan for their course. Students who do not maintain this pass rate will need to pay their tuition fees upfront to continue in their course, unless they are able to demonstrate that special circumstances apply.

Students who are affected by this change will receive communication from CHC prior to the commencement of Semester 1, 2018.

See the Study Assist website for more information.

Sign up for Summer Semester!

Attention all current CHC students!

Make the most of your Summer and complete a unit or two during Semester 3 at CHC. Escape the heat and get ahead on your degree progression or lighten the load for next Semester!

Christian Heritage College offers over 80 units across five different study areas, including:

  • Business;
  • Christian Studies;
  • Education and Humanities;
  • Ministries; and
  • Social Sciences

Units are available at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and many can be completed in external mode – meaning you study from the comfort of home (or the beach)!

Check out the list of units on offer at or contact your Course Coordinator to discuss your options.

Ready to apply? It’s easy – just visit the Unit Selection Form and select your units – we’ll take care of the rest.

For more information or questions, contact CHC Student Administration.