Building a Civilized Workplace

Building a Civilized Workplace Andy Richter, Senior Assistant Administrator in Technology Services, discusses his involvement in helping Vanderbilt build a civilized workplace, where everyone is welcomed and supported.

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Janet McCutchen: Welcome to this edition of the Vanderbilt University Health and Wellness Wellcast. I am Janet McCutchen with Work/Life Connections. I had the pleasure today of speaking with Andy Richter who is a manager in information systems here at Vanderbilt, and we are going to be speaking about a very relevant topic today, “Building a Civilized Workplace.” Andy, tell us a little bit about how you became involved with this effort. Andy Richter: About 10 years ago, I joined the University Staff Advisory Council and soon after, became involved in a Staff Life Committee. I have served that committee for 3 years and in that role heard a lot of feedback from the community, and our team examined the feedback and determined the workplace civility would be a useful thing to focus on going forward. Janet McCutchen: And you have representatives from different areas on that committee, right? Andy Richter: Yeah, across the university. Janet McCutchen: What do we mean by building a civilized workplace? Andy Richter: I see it as treating others as you wish to be treated or be civil to everyone every day, even in stressful situations. When everyone treats everyone else in a civil manner, then we have a civilized workplace. Janet McCutchen: And what are some key features of this concept that anyone can implement right away knowing that building a civilized workplace takes time. Andy Richter: I would say learn to manage your personal stress levels. Many coping strategies are available. Do not gossip, and do not listen to gossip from others. Do not denigrate yourself or others. Establish the personal habit of evaluating yourself after each interaction. If you realize you made a mistake such as saying something you wish you had not said, make it right with the other person as soon as possible. Learn from your mistakes. This is a key aspect of the civil workplace. And then finally, seek happiness and personal fulfillment. This will give you a more positive outlook and you have a better attitude for dealing with issues at work and in life. Janet McCutchen: So, let’s say that your unit or work area has been through some significant changes, losses of staff, change in leadership, and one of our listeners is wondering how they can play a role in building a civilized workplace. What is the first step they can take? Andy Richter: Certainly, I must start with each person making a personal commitment to behave in a civil manner. Begin to hold yourself and those with whom you interact accountable. Learn to be assertive so that you are ready to say what needs to be said in stressful situations. Educate yourself about civility with the intention of applying what you learned. Good website to begin is our new care website at Janet McCutchen: Is there anything else that you would like to add regarding building a civilized workplace, something you have learned perhaps about this process that you would like to share. Andy Richter: I have learned that it takes daily attention. It is easy to fall back in our old ways if we do not keep this at the forefront of our minds each day to intentionally be civil to each other. Janet McCutchen: So, it is really something that we do have to think about and be intentional about because we all get so busy and we get bogged down in what we do every day, and so it is something that we have to be mindful of. People can follow this by getting on the link and taking it from there. Andy Richter: There are a lot of resources there. Janet McCutchen: Andy, thank you so much for giving us this snapshot of what your committee has been doing around building a civilized workplace. We really appreciate your time today. Andy Richter: Thank you. Janet McCutchen: Thanks for listening. Please feel free to leave us any comments on this Wellcast by clicking the “Add New Comment” link at the bottom of this page. If you have a story or suggestion, please email it to us at or you can use the “Contact Us” link on our website at Thanks for listening. -- end of recording --