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Derek Bishop

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A toxic culture of rudeness

Date added: 07th Dec 2015
Category: Culture of conduct/ethics

Study shows that even occasional incivility in the workplace can spread and lead to bullying

Where do you draw the line? Bullying in the workplace is unacceptable, but where do you place the odd bit of incivility or rudeness? Is it tolerated or ignored or is it seen as an action which has to be stamped or immediately before it gets out of hand?

Those who may have been inclined to ignore the odd minor act of incivility may need think again thanks to a study by psychologists at Lund University. Using evidence gathered in the hotel and restaurant sector together with a general population survey, the psychologists have shown that “being subjected to rudeness is a major reason for dissatisfaction at work and that unpleasant behaviour spreads if nothing is done about it.”

The study identified a number of examples may seem insignificant in themselves but which can cause distress and lead the perpetrators on to bullying. These include imitating other people’s mannerisms, excluding people from information circulation and forgetting to invite people to work gatherings. Other examples given within the report include taking the credit for someone else’s work or even simply not giving subordinates the praise which they are due.

With over 75% of respondents commenting that they had been the subject of workplace rudeness in the last year, the researchers say that there work has shown how the actions of one individual can spread, leading to consequences for the entire workplace. Their conclusion is that staff and managers ought to receive training in this area in order to raise awareness of the consequences of unpleasant behaviour.

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