Rudeness at work becomes a vicious circle

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 per cent of the survey respondents stated that they had been subjected to rudeness at least once or twice in the past year.