A Rude Awakening!

Rudeness Effects Throughout the Workday 

By In Weekly Email 5 minute read time

A Rude Awakening! Rudeness Effects Throughout the Workday 

Every week at the Kimono, we get an avalanche of stories.  Stories about bad bosses, horrible co-workers, and disgruntled employees.  While the Kimono exists to provide humor along with some learning lessons on how to cope, we recognized a key theme across the many emails we get about working conditions in the U.S. and beyond—that of rude people. 

But should we really care if people are rude and, if so, what’s the impact? Four scholars in a recent Journal of Applied Psychology study suggest that there’s a lot to lose being rude.  For our doubters and stat lovers, visit the article here.

Here’s how this went down.  The researchers corralled 81 professional employees from an Executive MBA program and, for 2 weeks, they surveyed these business people at their workplace in the morning and in the evening, before going home.  The cool part is that they had 2 conditions:  The first condition was the control experience—work in a neutral/polite environment.  But in the second condition, they subjected and exposed these guinea pigs to rude behavior.  For that reason, they could compare perceptions, behaviors, and outcomes between the two conditions (rude versus non-rude).

Show ‘em what they’ve won Bob!!!  Interestingly, they found that when exposed to rudeness in the morning, these working professionals were more likely to perceive and report rudeness throughout the day.  Essentially, exposing people to rudeness in the A.M. primed their brains to evaluate more work behavior through this rudeness lens.  In other words, it set the tone for how we evaluate the rest of the day. 

What’s important is that it impacts our work.  Rude behavior seemed to weigh down these employees throughout the day as they reported lower task performance and weaker progress towards their goals.  Even more, those that were exposed to an early morning a-hole were more likely to withdraw and avoid work and their workers during the day. 

But not everyone responded to rudeness in the same way. These brilliant minds found that individuals that had high core self-evaluations (think of self-confidence and an I can do it! type of attitude) were only marginally impacted by rudeness, especially compared to those with lower self-esteem. 

Okay, so what?  Well, if you don’t want to be the type of boss that ends up on our Friday Front Page under the heading of Bad Boss, you’ll try to stop, or at least, delay rudeness in the workplace.  There’s an old saying that if you own the morning, you own the day.  This well-executed research study provides empirical evidence of that mantra.  You can bet on it—morning rudeness lasts throughout the day and productivity suffers.  So, at the very least, keep your biting comments and cynical slights to after lunch. That’s one, of many, lessons to take to the bank.

Brought to you all courtesy of the Kimono!

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