Being subjected to rudeness is a major reason for dissatisfaction at work and unpleasant behaviour spreads if nothing is done about it, a study says. Workplace incivility should be treated with the utmost seriousness. This is the finding of three psychologists at Lund University in Sweden.
The researchers explained that rudeness at the workplace refers to something that goes under the radar for what is prohibited and that in some way violates the norm for mutual respect. It can refer to petty behaviour such as excluding someone from information and cooperation, or “forgetting” to invite someone to a communal event.
It can also refer to taking credit for the work of others, spreading rumours, sending malicious emails, or not giving praise to subordinates. “It is really about behaviour that is not covered by legislation, but which can have considerable consequences and develop into outright bullying if it is allowed to continue”, said lead researcher Eva Torkelson from Lund University in Sweden.
Bullying in the workplace is quite a well documented phenomenon, whereas rudeness that risks turning into bullying is not, she said. For the study, the researchers surveyed nearly 6,000 people on the social climate in the workplace.
In total, 75% of the survey respondents stated that they had been subjected to rudeness at least once or twice in the past year. “An important finding from our studies is that those who behave rudely in the workplace experience stronger social support, which probably makes them less afraid of negative reactions to their behaviour from managers and colleagues,” Martin Backstrom, professor of psychology at Lund University noted.
As people often imitate the behaviour of others, there is a risk that rudeness becomes a vicious circle with considerable consequences for the entire workplace, the researchers said. The findings appeared in the journal BioMed Research International.