Skip to main content
Back to blog homepage

Civility Saves Lives

Blog 30 March 2021

Chris Turner, Co-Founder of Civility Saves Lives, writes…

Imagine you’re at work doing everything possible to provide the best care you can, and then someone makes a comment that leaves you feeling inadequate and hurt. You try to focus on the patient, but now you’re worrying about what they said and what they meant by it. This impacts both us personally and also the care we can provide for patients. Certain situations in the workplace can be incredibly stressful and if we add on the negative effect of rudeness and undermining behaviour, then this can have a detrimental impact on the performance of individuals and teams.

Civility Saves Lives is a campaign that aims to raise awareness of the negative impact rudeness can have in healthcare and, conversely, of the power of civility. When we choose to behave in ways that value and respect those around us, together we can enhance teams, optimise performance and improve patient care.

Evidence suggests that rudeness negatively impacts our working memory and makes us cognitively less able. In fact, 38% of people who experience rudeness reduce the quality of their work and 80% lose time worrying about the rudeness, which can have a negative impact on the quality of care given to a patient.

Oddly, despite what we think, many people who are being rude don’t recognise this is happening They are either worn out, stressed or, more worryingly, this behaviour has become normalised over time. Let’s face it, nobody goes to work with the intention of being rude to colleagues, but sometimes we find ourselves in positions where, if we behave negatively, this is tolerated. This is unfortunately particularly true when we first move into authority positions, due to the double whammy of people not feeling able to challenge us and our own increase in self-worth.

As healthcare staff we all have the same end goal – to provide our patients with the best care possible. To do this we must respect each other’s perspectives and have mutual trust throughout teams. Rude behaviour should be called out, but in a manner that is underpinned with respect and compassion.

On Thursday 10 June, I’ll be speaking in more detail about the Civility Saves Lives campaign at the first virtual RCOG World Congress. Here, I will explore the importance of respect, professional courtesy and valuing each other. I will also cover the negative impact that rudeness (incivility) can have in healthcare, so that we can better understand the impact we have on the performance of those around us.

I hope to connect with many of you virtually throughout Congress and I’ll be here to answer any questions you may have, or just a friendly chat!