Five Ways to Deal With Rudeness in the Workplace

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Five Ways to Deal With Rudeness in the Workplace
« on: April 13, 2017, 05:43:46 AM »
Hannah sat at her desk, shaking with anger and feeling totally humiliated.

She had been subjected to a very public "dressing down" by her manager at a respected publishing house. He had vented his rage after learning that a best-selling author's new book would likely miss its launch deadline.

Hannah, a production editor, had tried her best to keep the project on schedule, but it had been beset by events beyond her control.

First, the author had delivered his manuscript late, despite numerous reminders. When it did arrive, it needed a time-consuming rewrite, and then the designer went on sick leave, leaving the planned timeline in tatters.

Hannah's boss had walked up to her desk in the open plan office, and launched into a furious tirade. His frustration may have been understandable, but his behavior crossed a line. He shouted at Hannah in front of her team members, his language was wholly inappropriate, and at one point he even suggested that he regretted not giving the project to one of her colleagues.

This is just one extreme example of rudeness in the workplace. In this article, we look at what to do if you encounter rudeness on your team or from your boss.

What is Rudeness?

Rudeness can take many forms. It is generally defined as a display of disrespect, a breaking of social norms or expectations, a breach of etiquette Add to My Personal Learning Plan, or ignoring "accepted" behavior. It can also mean someone behaving inconsiderately, aggressively or deliberately offensively.

The word "accepted" is important, because rudeness can mean different things to different people, or within different organizations or environments. For example, shouting and swearing might be considered normal in a busy restaurant kitchen, but it would be regarded as wholly inappropriate and unacceptable in most offices.

Similarly, there can be cultural differences to consider. For example, in Japan, something as seemingly innocent as laughing with your mouth open is a no-no. So, it's important to be aware of possible cultural faux pas Add to My Personal Learning Plan, especially if you are managing or working abroad Add to My Personal Learning Plan or managing a culturally diverse team Add to My Personal Learning Plan.

Rudeness can be a way to display power within a team or organizational relationship, to try to get your own way on something, or simply to provoke a reaction. It can also be a response to stress, pressure or frustration.

Five Ways to Deal With Rudeness in Your Team

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 Add to My Personal Learning Plan.

According to a study in the Academy of Management Journal, rudeness can damage team performance, reduce helpfulness and collaboration, and negatively impact workplace relationships Add to My Personal Learning Plan.

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 Add to My Personal Learning Plan, 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 Add to My Personal Learning Plan, 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 Add to My Personal Learning Plan and emotional intelligence Add to My Personal Learning Plan 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 Add to My Personal Learning Plan or even, as a last resort, letting him go.