What does attacking Muslims have to do with work? The short answer is… a lot. Nicholas Kristof’s article in last Sunday’s New York Times, raises the question, “Is this America?”, partly on the observation of the recent attack rhetoric aimed at Muslims. He cites a blog post in The New Republic magazine where the editor in chief asserts, “… frankly Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims.” Kristof questions the personal venom in this New Republic article and then goes on to commend Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders for denouncing the anti-Islam discourse overall.
It is perfectly acceptable, perhaps even desirable, to question the shortcomings of Islam and any other religion. “Attacking” ideas, processes, and/or situations is appropriate. Attacking people or groups of people is generally not. (Self defense from physical harm most believe is an acceptable exception.)
In the workplace, obviously on a much smaller stage, the same guidelines exist. Attacking the process, ideas, behavior, or situations can lead to learning and continuous improvement. Attacking each other verbally is counter productive. Think about how often personal or department criticism happens in a week in your workplace. Why? What good does it do anyone?
If we set the example on the smaller stage perhaps we can demand the same character from those on the big stage. We can change this in our work environment right now by what we expect from ourselves and our team mates.
Let’s do it. We can. Respect belongs to all of us.