Lisa Parker | Executive Coach | Heads Up Coaching and ConsultingDear Coach,

Recently I overheard two of my colleagues discussing a project and one person was being openly critical of the other. It was really difficult to listen to what I considered to be a humiliating exchange for the recipient. The speaker was being overly harsh. It wasn’t civil, and I don’t think they realized other people could hear. I felt like I wanted to say something, but it was none of my business. Should I have spoken up at that moment?

— J.T.

Dear J.T.,

I can appreciate your dilemma. It’s really hard to witness uncivil behavior in the workplace. We often wonder if we should step in and protect or defend the person on the receiving end. It’s truly a judgment call. First of all, unless you are their manager, it is not your place to interrupt in order to comment on the civility of the discourse. That would be butting in. We should allow the recipient the chance to speak for himself. However, you could certainly approach them gently and say “I don’t think you realize we can hear you. You might want to go into the conference room” or something along those lines. Does that sound doable? Let me know.

— Coach Lisa

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