It is true that rudeness runs the gamut throughout the day in forms of not remaking the coffee after you’ve taken the last cup to not cleaning up your spot in the lunchroom after eating your sandwich that just happened to have mustard and mayon­naise all over the wrapper to not wiping up your spills in the microwave. Should I mention belching on your way out the door and not saying, “Excuse me” or covering your mouth? Should I mention yawning without covering your mouth!

If you start asking people around you about their perception of the acceptance of rudeness in the workplace, they will probably tell you that all of society is a lot ruder than it used to be and what goes on at work is a reflection of that acceptance. Experts suggest that rudeness reflects a lack of respect for peers or a lack of understanding about acceptable manners in the workplace. It seems that today’s hurried and high-tech business climate has introduced more opportunities than ever for rudeness to prevail. Take e-mail, for example. So many people have sent abusive, inappropriate messages that companies are creating rules and regulations about the use and appropriateness of e-mail.

What’s the Cause?      

As individuals con­tinue to feel debilitated by job losses, mergers and acquisitions, downsizing, and re-engineering, the disregard for each other as human beings continues to deteriorate the emotional fabric of our society. For example, in tough times, the tough managers tend to get tougher. They make employees feel as though they must accept the rude behavior (better known as workplace abuse). Of course, this makes the employees feel more insecure and less apt to challenge the rude be­havior when they are confronted with it. In addition, with so many people out of work or in transition, most feel uncomfort­able chal­lenging the inappropriate­ness of rude­ness (and the bully). 

Though not everybody agrees on what rude behavior is in the workplace or what the effect of poor communication skills may have on the outcome, most people agree there are some behaviors that would make everyone’s list of work­place rudeness. Here are a few:

  • Someone acting as though you are the only employee in the office—making demands on everyone’s job.
  • Someone leaving a dribble of coffee behind so you won’t have to brew the next pot.
  • People checking voice mail or email or having side conversations during a meeting.
  • People leaving their cell phones on during a meeting when there’s no emergency.
  • Co-workers having a loud and raucous dis­cussion while you are trying to work on your computer.
  • The people who con­stantly feel it’s their right to pester you anytime they want.
  • Those who treat your Kleenex® box as if it’s public domain.
  • Someone else taking credit for your sugges­tion or idea.
  • Not saying, “thank you,” “please,” or “you’re welcome”.
  • Your boss rolling his or her eyes in a meeting after you’ve made a com­ment or suggestion, allowing everyone to see how it’s okay to discount a viewpoint.
  • A boss or colleague not deeming it necessary to give compliments, even when someone’s task has been above the call of duty.
  • Someone with body odor and doing nothing about it.
  • Not opening the door for someone whose hands are full.

 Join me next time to learn: what can you do?

Sandra Ford Walston is known as The Courage Expert and innovator of StuckThinking™. She is an organizational effectiveness consultant, speaker, internationally published author of bestseller COURAGE, trainer and courage coach. She is certified in the Enneagram and MBTI®. Please visit

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