Being on the receiving end of rude behavior can make you feel angry, upset and aggrieved. If it’s not nipped in the bud, it can become “normalized” and embedded into your workplace culture. It can also escalate from low-level incidents into aggressive, bullying behavior .
According to a study in the Academy of Management Journal, rudeness can damage team performance, reduce helpfulness and collaboration , and negatively impact workplace relationships .
Here, we look at five strategies for ridding your team or workplace of rudeness.
Be a good role model. How you treat your people can impact the way that they treat others. If they see that their managers or leaders get away with rude behavior, they may copy it. You can prevent rudeness from spreading by setting a good example to them. Our article, How to Be a Good Role Model , highlights the positive traits that you should demonstrate to your team, such as empathy, integrity, professionalism, and self-control.
Don’t ignore it. If you ignore rude behavior, you send out a signal that, in effect, you condone it. If you witness it, or if it’s brought to your attention, you need to deal with it. We look at how to do that, below.
Deal directly with the culprit. When you need to address rudeness, talk to the offender somewhere private. Stay calm and objective as you outline the facts as you know them, explain the negative impact of his or her behavior and how it made other people feel, and make it clear how you want him to modify his behavior. Our article, Bad Behavior at Work , explores this in more detail.
Listen. The offender may think that she had good reason to be annoyed with somebody, and her rudeness was just a reaction to that. So, while making it clear that her behavior was unacceptable, give her an opportunity to explain what triggered it. Using Active Listening and emotional intelligence can help you to understand her situation, and you can then work together to find a solution.
Follow up on any offender. By all means, take the offender’s point of view into account, but you have to make it absolutely clear that you don’t want a repeat of his words or actions. If, as part of your solution, you set him targets or standards of behavior, make sure that he achieves them. If he doesn’t mend his ways, then you should consider firmer action. Discuss the situation with your HR department, and look at using formal warnings or even, as a last resort, letting him go.
Rude behavior can be a way of displaying power, trying to get your own way, or provoking a reaction. It can also be a response to stress, pressure, frustration, or some other form of unhappiness. It can seriously impact team morale and productivity, and even lead to aggressive and bullying behavior.
To tackle rudeness in the workplace, be a good role model for your team members; don’t ignore it; deal directly with the culprit; listen to both sides; and follow up on any offender.
If your boss is the one who’s rude, find out the reason for his behavior, stay positive, work around it, and seek help from HR if there is no improvement in his behavior.