Kindness is essential in the workplace

Rude or hostile behavior should never be tolerated in a work environment.

Rude or hostile behavior should never be tolerated in a work environment.

How important is it to not be rude in the workplace? The answer may seem easy, as kindness and understanding should be integral parts of the overall work dynamic, but in some places this may not be the case.

According to a recent study conducted by the University of Florida, rudeness in the office is contagious, and spreads easily from person to person.

“What we found in this study is that the contagious effect is based on an automatic cognitive mechanism — automatic means it happens somewhere in the subconscious part of your brain, so you don’t know it’s happening and can’t do much to stop it,” the study’s lead author, Trevor Foulk said.

During the study, researchers tracked 90 graduate business school students practicing negotiation with classmates. Each person met with several partners over the seven week experiment for a more diverse pool of information.

The study found that those who rated their partner as rude were more likely to be judged as rude themselves by that same partner.

There is also no clear control over the spread of this feeling, easily infiltrating an office with a possible misunderstanding or purposely withholding information from a coworker.

When one worker is rude to another during the day, it creates a bias in the mind toward future experiences with them, affecting social relationships as well as teamwork and overall office dynamics.

Research also found that simply viewing one worker be rude or snarky to another can affect relationships as well. Studies have found that 98 percent of workers have experienced rudeness in the workplace, with 50 percent experiencing it weekly.

Hostility and questionable behavior not only affects the workplace, but can create stress outside of the office as well, which can have an effect on overall productivity over time.

E-learning can help refresh workers on better communication and relations with one another. These courses, published by MasteryTCN, provide an example of e-learning that can help: Respectful Workplace Communication and That’s Just Rude! Exploring the Rudeness Matrix.

Respectful work communications begins with considering the audience, talking with someone, not about them, understanding what others are saying,  boundaries and how to respectfully disagree during discussions.

In most cases, employees don’t realize they are being rude to one another, or are unsure of how they make a coworker feel.

Build a better communication plan in the workplace with these three tips:

  • Be willing to understand other viewpoints: Employees will not agree with everything said by others all the time, and that’s okay. Being able to hear other ideas or collaborate collectively is essential for communication and teamwork.
  • Listen: Simply listening, not talking over others and a willingness to learn new information will facilitate new ideas, as well as bridge gaps between different work styles.
  • Respect others: Above all, be able to respect how others think and feel.

Learn more about employee training on our website.

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