Incivility can fracture a team, destroying collaboration, splintering members’ sense of psychological safety, and hampering team effectiveness. Belittling and demeaning comments, insults, backbiting, and other rude behavior can deflate confidence, sink trust, and erode helpfulness — even for those who aren’t the target of these behaviors.
A little civility goes a long way, enhancing a team’s performance by increasing the amount of psychological safety that people feel. One experiment of mine showed that psychological safety was 35% higher when people were offered a suggestion civilly than uncivilly (i.e., in an interaction marked by inconsiderate interruption). Other research has shown that psychological safety improves general team performance. Studying more than 180 of its active teams, Google found that who was on a team mattered less than how team members interacted, structured their work, and viewed their contributions. Employees on teams with more psychological safety were more likely to make use of their teammates’ ideas and less likely to leave Google. They generated more revenue for the company and were rated as “effective” twice as often by executives.