Colds and the flu aren’t the only things you can catch at work. Research shows that rudeness can be just as contagious, quickly infecting and eroding your work atmosphere.
Being overworked and rushed can leave people feeling as if they have little time for pleasantries. But even one perceived act of rudeness can set off a chain reaction of negative behavior.
Being the victim of rudeness apparently flips a switch in your mind that activates your own feelings of hostility. What’s more, even people who aren’t directly touched by an act of rudeness can also be affected if they witness it.
Everyone loses, including the company itself. Employee performance suffers because it’s hard to be motivated to excel in an unhappy workplace. Rudeness can slowly eat away at a positive company culture.
Managers set the tone. That means:
- Be aware of your behavior and how others might perceive you.
- Focus fully on employees — not your cellphone — when talking to them one-on-one as well as in meetings.
- Pay attention to employees’ concerns.
- Follow through on what you say you’ll do.
However, everyone can be a leader when it comes to replacing rudeness with politeness. One easy action is called the 10-5 approach: When you see a co-worker within 10 feet of you, smile as you make eye contact. When one is within five feet, take the time to say hello.
The Harvard Business Review offers insights into the cost of incivility at the office.