What decency has to do with dialog

By Jaden Love

3 min read

What decency has to do with dialog

Remote work has given us the opportunity to rethink how we interact with one another. This is taking patience, tenacity, and emotional intelligence. Perhaps though, we've underestimated the simplest path to reaching people. Whether remote or in the office, being decent is the baseline for all communication.

Thankfully, we all have the ability to be more decent with one another. In the latest session of Conversations at Work, we explored what decency is, and how it builds trust, respect, belonging, and psychological safety at work. 

We were fortunate to have Rita Kakati-Shah, Founder and CEO of Uma, and Kelsy Trigg, VP + Global Head HR Advisors at SAP, lead this informative conversation. Their diverse experiences and knowledge were an asset in navigating this important topic.

When it comes down to it, decency is about being a good human being who respects and values others. The simplest way to show the degree to which you act with decency at work is through the words we use. The way we speak to people conveys whether we trust and respect others. Taking it one step further, how you listen to others demonstrates your level of decency. When listening to someone, are you looking at them? Or are you looking down at your phone or multi-tasking? 

The Decency Quotient

Many companies focus on IQ and EQ when measuring their employees, but Rita shared the concept of a Decency Quotient (DQ). DQ measures if a leader is genuinely focused on doing right by others. In the workplace we should measure ourselves by honesty, kindness, and integrity, and ultimately DQ is something that fulfills that.

What does decency look like?

Decency can look different in different cultures, so it's always good to assume others have good intentions. What one person might mean as a compliment, could come across as an insult to the listener. So be open and explain how what you’re saying is intended as a compliment.

Being benevolent and empathetic of others, is an easy way to show decency. By including others in the conversation around what matters most to them and how to meet their needs is a way to show benevolence.

What’s the result of being decent?

Everyone can relax at work because you’re able to show up as you are and know you’ll be accepted. Decency doesn't have to mean you’re nice all the time though. You can continue to have hard conversations as needed, but if the recipient of the feedback knows it’s in their best interest, then they’ll respect the feedback.

How to be more decent

Proving you’re decent is a long term effort. You cannot simply say “I’m a decent person” and then it’s set. It’s part of your long term relationship building with others. By being consistent and showing up no matter what, you prove that you care about others and your decency will shine through. 

But being decent doesn’t have to equal agreement. You don’t have to agree with someone to treat them with decency. By simply taking the time to listen to someone, and hear their thoughts, that’s showing you care. You can be honest and explain why you have an alternate view point, but at the end of the day, listening and respecting one another goes a long way.

Practicing decency is like practicing your basketball shot. You have to work at it every day, and eventually it becomes part of who you are.

To learn more from this interesting conversation, check out the recording below:


More about Conversations at Work

Whether you’re fully dispersed, remote-first, in the office or somewhere in between, conversation is what ties everyone together in your business. This bi-weekly virtual series opens space for dialog that leads to action in the pursuit of better workplaces. We’ll explore how conversation shapes culture, creates connection, and helps leaders lead. We all have a voice—let’s come together and then get to work.


Jaden Love

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