The University of Florida recently released findings in a study they did on rudeness in the workplace. They looked at how 90 grad students carried out negotiations with their peers. Students who rated their partners as treating them rudely had a tendency to then behave rudely toward others they interacted with. In other words, there was a tendency to take it out on someone else who wasn’t responsible for treating them badly. The abused became the abuser.
Researchers also found that being the recipient of rudeness makes a person more sensitive to discourteous behavior, but may not necessarily stop them from passing that behavior on to another person. Their findings also revealed that perceived rude actions tended to negatively affect work performance. Other researchers have also found that such negativity at work can lead to bad health if the person at the receiving end internalizes the rudeness without a positive outlet.
To counteract the rudeness, it may first be a good idea to determine what is perceived as rudeness in one’s environment since that may be a subjective thing–differing from workplace to workplace. For example, if someone called me rude for talking about God, prayer, or the Bible, should I really change that? On the other hand, if rudeness were walking to someone’s work space and dropping something abruptly or slamming it down on their desk, maybe that attitude should be put in check.
It is suggested that ‘[d]espite the common idea that “nice guys finish last,” research has shown that civility is key to getting ahead at work… Real leadership is far more connected with building trust and relationships tha[n] with inspiring fear.’ This article also gives some additional good advice on handling toxic people at work.
Even though the world is getting worse with a decrease in godly morals, those of us in a relationship with Christ don’t have to stoop to the world’s level in the workplace. A coworker’s rudeness may present the perfect opportunity for us to display the Golden Rule and these commands from 1 Peter 3:8-12:
…be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
As we fulfill this, it’s good to keep in mind we don’t have to be pushovers and can exercise wisdom as we stand up for ourselves.
Harry A. Gaylord