According to research by McKinsey&Company, rudeness is on the rise. Their report found that 62% employees had been treated rudely by colleagues at least once a month in 2016, compared to 55% in 2011 and 49% in 1998. This could include insults, put-downs, crude language or interrupting.
This reminded me of a fantastic book that I’ve just read – ‘I can’t believe you just said that!’ by Danny Wallace (it’s great, I high recommend it!), where Danny had experienced such rudeness at the hand of a hotdog seller, that it prompted him to write an entire book about the subject.
He funded his own research (you can read an extract from ‘the Wallace report’ here) and went on to work with a number of psychologists, neurologists and other academics to find out more about rudeness and the impact it can have on people. There were loads of fascinating insights and case studies (which I won’t spoil for you now), but one thing was loud and clear – rudeness is really damaging. The knock-on effect of rudeness was quite astounding and I think it’s true to say, is very often overlooked. Even just by witnessing rudeness, you can be effected psychologically up to ten days afterwards – and that could be even greater if you’re on the receiving end!
Throughout the read, I often thought about the links to employee engagement (and I’m sure I’ll share more in blogs to come!) and the McKinsey&Company research reinforces this further, as they’ve found that both managers and employees who experience rudeness tend to perform worse:
– 80% stated they lost time at work worrying about the incident
– 63% said they lost time at work avoiding the offender
– 48% said that they intentionally decreased their work effort
– and 38% said that they intentionally decreased their quality of work!
Wallace found many other studies which corresponds with this – and they also found that rudeness is contagious! And not just if you are the victim – witnesses of rudeness were found to go on and behave more rudely too. And in the workplace, office managers who felt they received unfair treatment from their own manager would tend to replicate it, meaning their own teams would be likely to experience the same behaviour, and so on.
So, next time you’re having a bad day (I mean we all have them, right?) just remember that one moment of impoliteness can lead to a plague of discourtesy across your entire workforce, leading to less productivity, lost time and poor quality.