Why Be a Rude Dude?

Kindness Organizational culture Respect


Key Point: Are you rude to others at work? Worse… Are you rude if you’re the boss? Or to show who’s boss? Research from Georgetown University found that rudeness in the workplace is impacting the bottom line and it’s on the rise. Professors Christine Porath and Dr. Christine Pearson found in a survey of 800 managers and employees across 17 industries that about half of workers said they were treated rudely at least once in the past week. That’s up about 25 percent from 1998. Their findings highlighted in their current HBR article, The Price of Incivility, also found that about one in four people are rude because their bosses act that way. Employees notice what SEEMS to be working then they follow that lead. People wrote to tell the authors that bosses were rude as a way of creating distance, a way to show who’s boss, and to set themselves apart. Others reported that managers actually had encouraged them to be rude. Huh?

Among other impacts, surveyed workers had these reactions to rudeness:

A. 48 percent intentionally decreased their work effort.

B. 47 percent intentionally decreased the time spent at work.

C. 38 percent intentionally decreased the quality of their work.

D. 66 percent said that their performance declined.

E. 78 percent said that their commitment to the organization declined.

F. 63 percent lost work time avoiding the offender.

Wow… 25 percent of people at work are rude because that’s the behavior that’s modeled by their bosses. Why would anyone want or have to be rude to “show or confirm who is boss?” The toughest bosses expect and coach to excellence but this does NOT equate to being rude. In fact being a great boss involves respecting all at every level. And employees have no excuse to behave badly because their boss does. Be personally accountable for being respectful.

Character Moves:

  1. Equate being tough to excellence with civility NOT rudeness. Anyone with a little power can treat others badly and get away with it, for a while. This is especially true when other people are concerned about losing their jobs. However the best team members and leaders are respectful regardless of circumstances. As an associate expect and insist on civility at every level and in every position.
  2. Learn how to “attack” process, situations and/or behavior, NEVER other people. This is one of the great guidelines when developing a demanding, highly respectful work environment and norms within a team.
  3. Just because your boss is rude is no excuse to model that behavior. Ideally you will be able to give your boss feedback on that behavior (sometimes its like spinach in our teeth… We don’t really see it until it’s pointed out). Feedback is necessary and helpful.
  4. Want to be tough? Have the courage to point out rude behavior when you see it or experience it. Respectfully but directly explain how that behavior impacts you, others, and the person behaving rudely and the organization.
  5. Most of us act rudely at one time or another. When we do, have the strength to show leadership by recognizing, apologizing, and learning to stop or do it less often.

No rude dudes in The Triangle,