I observed a vice president leading a contingent of visitors into an early-morning meeting. As the group approached a conference room, the vice president noticed what appeared to be spilled coffee on the new carpet. A staff member happened to be walking by. The frowning, vice president gruffly said, “It looks like you need to teach your friends to be more careful with their coffee.”
Studies suggest that, during a work week, about half of employees engage in rude behaviors. Further, Dr. Woolum and associates, writing in the Journal of Applied Psychology, report that merely witnessing rude behaviors costs the company money.
Examples of rude behaviors include: crude language, interrupting others, failure to show appreciation, loud talking, checking your phone during conversations, eye-rolls, gossiping and so on.
Apparently, observation of rudeness sets a frame in the brain. Later, when employees see what may be ambiguous behaviors—not necessarily rude; they interpret the behavior to be uncivil. Employees who perceive rudeness may avoid interactions with others and dampen their commitment to tasks.
In the interest of civility, not to mention the bottom line, leaders would do well to model respectful, courteous and considerate behaviors, while professionally calling out team members who slip up.