By Adam Turteltaub
Last month I attended the annual SCCE Basic Compliance and Ethics Academy in Dubai.
The city is a fascinating place to visit, and not just because they have indoor skiing and shopping malls so large that they make the Mall of America look like a convenience store. The city is an endless buffet of cultures mixing together. You experience an inspiring blend of people from around the world who are all working and living side by side.
Making it all possible is a strong, and I have been told strongly enforced, culture of civility. A place like Dubai can only work if there is a common understanding that we all have to get along. People have to treat each other with respect and dignity, be mindful of their differences, and even give each other the benefit of the doubt from time to time. They have to recognize that a slight may be accidental, not intentional, but we must do our best to avoid even those accidental slights.
The net result, at least to this visitor’s eyes, is a city where people get along with each other, from the Saudi visitor covered from head to toe, to the Westerner in jeans and a t-shirt.
It is all an argument for the oft under-valued virtue of civility. By simply behaving better in our personal and business lives we can avoid many of the problems that plague business. Harassment is obviously one example, but it doesn’t end there.
Less “in your face” conversations, less hostile confrontations, less expressed suspicion could all open the door to more open conversation and work environments where people are willing to ask hard questions, without fear of retaliation.
While it may be a bit of a dream in these often bitter, fractious times, civilization and civilized behavior are worth striving for and could have great benefits both for compliance programs and business in general.
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