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Why Is Tolerance So Important in a Workplace?

Wong Shu Lee  


  November 15, 2022

Good workplace relationships help you do your job better and they can make going to work every day a joy. Otherwise, working in a toxic environment with unwelcoming colleagues can leave you feeling demotivated. 


Tolerance in principle and practice can be a challenge in the workplace for various reasons, such as personal biases, disagreements, and prejudices. However, just because they’re challenging, doesn’t mean that they are not ‘fixable’. Making the right choices on both the individual and organisational levels will facilitate resolutions in helping overcome these challenges.


What is tolerance? 


Being tolerant simply means adopting an open mind in your interactions with others who are unlike you. It’s a good rule of thumb that you treat others how you'd like to be treated, despite potential differences in values, beliefs, and opinions.


Why is tolerance so important?


Everyone has different backgrounds and experiences. As we’re exposed to society’s norms, we develop our own opinions, quirks, and beliefs that don’t always align with those of our colleagues. These differences have the potential to get in the way of establishing and strengthening relationships in the workplace. In some cases, disagreements arise and escalate, when they could have been avoided.


On the flip side, when we adopt an attitude of inclusion and tolerance, we open up a world of possibilities. Think of the benefits that come with a conscious adoption of tolerance including:


• Open and honest communication

• Creativity fostered by an open exchange of ideas from across a broad spectrum of expertise

• Respect and trust between individuals

• Teamwork, cooperation, and coordination among professionals in the workplace

• Loyalty and productivity, both of which are crucial for organisational efficiency


Tolerance is the foundation of all good working relationships, so instead of burying your head in the sand or muttering frustrations at the water cooler, consider our steps to a tolerant and harmonious workplace;


Top tips for tolerance


• Implement a comprehensive tolerance policy in the workplace. The policy must encourage employees to adopt an attitude of tolerance whilst also detailing acceptable words, actions, and behaviours as well as the appropriate redress measures.


• Set an example. Managers, who are in a position of authority, must set an example for their peers and subordinates. Workers can follow their lead which then, in turn, increases the depth and width of the culture of tolerance in and out of the office.


• Draw the line. Tolerance does not extend to tolerating, much less condoning, the words, behaviours, and actions that are legally, morally, and ethically unacceptable in modern society. Lines must be drawn between "acceptable" and "unacceptable" in the employee handbook and memos, for example.


Tolerance should be a daily commitment made by all members of the organisation. Embracing the differences in your personal and professional relationships will promote a greater sense of understanding and, in the process, better working relationships and ultimately higher productivity in the workplace. 


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