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Build Your Career Office Life

Rude Behavior On the Rise at Work

poor customer service Credit: Unhappy customer image via Shutterstock

If you've felt your office becoming a little more uncivil in recent years, you aren't alone, new research shows.

Rudeness is not only rampant in the workplace, it is also on the rise. A study by researchers at Georgetown University and the Thunderbird School of Global Management found half of the employees said they are treated offensively at least once a week, up from 25 percent in 1998.

The research revealed a host of effects of rude behavior. Nearly half of employees who are treated rudely around the office say they intentionally decreased their work effort because of it, while 38 percent decreased the quality of their work.

In addition, 47 percent cut down on the amount of time they spend at the office, with 80 percent losing work time worrying about the co-worker who treated them badly.

Overall, the study discovered that two-thirds of the employees who were treated rudely said their performance declined following the incident, which led 12 percent to leave for another job.

Incivility in the workplace can also lead to a drop in creativity and team spirit. In one experiment, employees who were treated rudely were 30 percent less creative than their peers, while in another test witnesses to incivility were less likely than others to help out, even when the person they’d be helping had no connection to the uncivil person.

The researchers also found examples from other studies to back up with their results on how destructive rude behavior can be in the workplace. They pointed to an Accountemps survey that shows managers and executives at Fortune 1,000 firms spend 13 percent percent of their work time — the equivalent of seven weeks a year — mending employee relationships and otherwise dealing with the aftermath of incivility.

The study, which was recently published in the Harvard Business Review, was co-authored by Georgetown's Christine Porath and Christine Pearson from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Follow Chad Brooks on Twitter @cbrooks76 or BusinessNewsDaily @BNDarticles. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.

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