People say we're a rude bunch these days. From the people at work to our fellow commuters, there always seems to be some sort of conflict going on. Now studies suggest that when you see so much of it, you can start behaving badly too.
Michelle Gerdes in The Wall Street Journal says research indicates that people are definitely ruder, possibly because our lives have become more hectic and pressure packed. What makes it more complicated is that rude people can climb the career ladder more easily than others.
But now we have evidence that rudeness is actually infectious, which means co-workers don’t just affect people at the office. The rudeness can spread like a virus, through a ripple effect that may ultimately impact on their personal relationships and other businesses.
A study conducted by Baylor University in Texas has found that the impact of rudeness can move beyond the workplace.
The study’s author, Merideth Ferguson, writes: “Employees who experience such incivility at work bring home the stress, negative emotion and perceived ostracism that results from those experiences, which then affects more than their family life - it also creates problems for the partner's life at work," Ferguson says.
The stress created by rudeness can be so intense that, at the end of the day, it is taken home by the worker. For example, the partner may have to pick up more of the family responsibilities.
Those demands may then interfere with the partner's work life. So the upshot is that it will affect the partner’s work life, not to mention their relationship and home life.
Needless to say, the Baylor study found that people who had experienced workplace rudeness were more likely to encounter work/family conflicts and more marital issues.
That follows an earlier study that shows employees' rudeness to each other actually has far more of an impact on a business than rudeness directed toward customers, or even employee incompetence. Again, it’s that ripple effect.
And of course the rudeness affects how you perform at work. Australian studies show that workplace rudeness actually has a negative impact on productivity, not to mention psychological distress and physical health.
So stuff like people always questioning your judgement, excluding you, interrupting when you are speaking, making snide comments, withholding information or just running you down will all have an impact on your workplace performance.
Part of the problem is that rudeness can often be in the eyes of the beholder. If you tell somebody to stop talking loudly on their mobile phone on the train, they might see it as you intruding on their personal space and freedom to do whatever they want.
Sara Eckel at Forbes suggests that when you do confront the person, discuss it in private, keep it civil and look at solutions. She says you should also do a bit of self analysis to see if you’re guilty of the same thing. But you need to take it in hand to stop those ripple effects.
How does workplace rudeness affect your work and home life?