A study published in the June 29, 2015 issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology, found that workplace impoliteness tends to spread – whether it’s dissing people in meetings, sending nasty emails, spreading rumors, making insensitive comments or engaging in shouting matches. Rudeness negatively effects the environment and performance.
The findings suggest that when we experience rudeness firsthand, or witness it, we’re more apt to behave rudely ourselves. Incivility, hostility and aggression gain momentum, becoming a vicious cycle.
If you’re the boss, make your zero tolerance for workplace rudeness clear. Hold yourself and your reports accountable for behaving appropriately. If you’re a coworker, take responsibility for your behavior. Never step into the fray of negative, aggressive exchanges. If need be, step away and cool off. Then decide how best to respond.
To move things in a positive direction in the workplace and at home, small acts of kindness can make a big difference. Everyday behaviors that acknowledge others and demonstrate respect for them can change the climate, even in situations where hostility, incivility and rudeness seem to be the norm.
You can break vicious negative cycles with simple, everyday behaviors like the following:
- Say, “Hello,” to everyone you meet. Greet them by name, making eye contact and offering a sincere smile.
- If you’re angry or annoyed about what you just read in an email, cool off before you respond and click “Send.”
- If the voice message you just listened to makes you mad, sleep on it and call back tomorrow.
- Say, “Thank you,” to anyone who helps you, even if only a little.
Small, respectful, polite acts can create amazing, meaningful shifts and counteract any negativity before it spreads.