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 or sending nasty emails or spreading rumors or making insensitive comments or engaging in shouting matches – and it 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 you need be, step away and cool off. Then decide how best to respond.

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