Disrespectful Behavior Yields Negative Outcomes at Work
Regrettably, there is no shortage of rudeness in today’s workplace. Far too often colleagues are treated condescendingly, employees are ignored, insulting comments are said and offensive gestures, such as eye-rolling, are made.
“Workplace rudeness is a severe enough issue that organizations should be concerned. It is something that can affect the bottom line,” maintains a researcher at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, who specializes in workplace incivility.
A great deal of research has been done showing the negative effects of disrespectful behavior in the workplace, and the results are quite conclusive, says Dr. Jennifer A. Bunk, an assistant professor of psychology. “People don’t like working in a negative climate,” Bunk said.
Much of this research has focused on the reaction of those who are treated disrespectfully at work. Some of the unfavorable outcomes associated with workplace rudeness include decreased job satisfaction, motivation, commitment and organizational citizenship behaviors, as well as increased turnover, absenteeism, anxiety and depression.
Bunk, however, has expanded her studies, also assessing the core of the problem – why people act rude in the first place.
Conducting various surveys, Bunk has collected data from more than 1,000 workers. In one of her studies she looked at retaliation as a motive for workplace rudeness. “If people are treated rudely, they may feel the need to protect their egos and get back at the disrespectful person,” she said.
Bunk also identifies organizational power as a culprit for workplace rudeness. Governance hierarchy may allow those in command to demonstrate their superiority not only through organizational decisions but also through disrespectful behavior. Bunk stresses the importance for organizations to send messages from the top down. “This is where the power issue comes in,” she said. “If organizations lead by example, showing that civility is fostered throughout, then other employees may be less cynical and more likely to follow.”
Although, Bunk points out that rudeness can be unintentional too. “It can be so subtle,” she said. “People can say things and not even realize that they’re hurting someone else’s feelings.”
Considering this factor, Bunk suggests that employees may constructively confront situations of rudeness. The problem cannot be fixed if people are unaware that their behaviors are perceived offensively, she said.
Bunk, who is a member of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), will present her findings at the upcoming SIOP conference to be held April 10–12 in San Francisco. As chair of a symposium session, she will be joined by nearly 20 other industrial–organizational psychology experts on workplace incivility.
For more information, contact Jennifer Bunk at 484-572-0111 or firstname.lastname@example.org. She will be presenting on workplace rudeness at the SIOP conference on Friday, April 11 at 1 p.m., and the media is welcome. Held at the Hilton San Francisco, this year’s conference is the 23rd annual event and is projected to attract more than 4,000 attendees. It will take on a three-day format with full-day sessions on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. There will be hundreds of peer-reviewed sessions spanning a wide variety of interesting topics related to workplace issues.
The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) is an international group of more than 7,000 industrial-organizational (I–O) psychologists whose members study and apply scientific principles concerning workplace productivity, motivation, leadership and engagement. SIOP’s mission is to enhance human well-being and performance in organizational and work settings by promoting the science, practice and teaching of I–O psychology. For more information about SIOP, including Media Resources, which lists nearly 2,000 experts in more than 100 topic areas, visit www.siop.org.