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  • Kick Ass Zombie Hunter

The Cost of Rudeness

Illustration of tired businessman carrying stress burden on his back

Rudeness at work comes in many shapes and forms.

  • Snide or sarcastic comments.

  • Ignoring people.

  • Interrupting and talking over others.

  • Excluding people from meetings or events.

  • Not paying attention to people when they are speaking.

  • Using inappropriate words or statements.

  • Shouting or speaking in an aggressive tone.

  • Eye rolling and other non-verbal behaviour meant to dismiss or demean others.

You may have witnessed these things happening to others, experienced them yourself, or, in some cases, been the source of the rudeness.

While no one enjoys it, rudeness has securely claimed it’s place at work. Research by Christine Porath suggests that 98% of employees are on the receiving end of rudeness over the course of a year.

Rudeness reduces performance, productivity, creativity, and collaboration. This happens whether we are on the receiving end of the interaction or just witnessing it. It makes us less likely to participate in discretionary efforts, less engaged, and more likely to be rude to others afterwards – colleagues and clients.

Civility on the other side increases performance and creativity, makes it more likely for people to spot mistakes and take action to fix them, and reduces burnout. Not surprisingly, it goes a long way to building psychological safety within a team.

One of the best ways to tackle rudeness at work is to battle bad with good. Make it a priority in your team to set ground rules for how you will treat each other. Through discussions come up with team norms around expected behaviour. Should people say good morning each day? Should they make sure everyone has a chance to speak during meetings? Is saying thank you non-negotiable?

When we clearly define our expectations and are willing to hold ourselves and others accountable, we can show rudeness the door.



Fight workplace zombies in your organization and join Team Human! Gather a group of fellow workplace zombie hunters to discuss our most recent blog post. Use the questions below to kick start your conversation.

  1. What rude behaviour have you experienced at work?

  2. How does experiencing or witnessing rude behaviour impact you?

  3. What team norms do you think are important for your team?


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