Enterprise Software

Poll: What causes rudeness in the workplace?

People have been noticing an increase in rudeness in the workplace. What do you think is causing this uptick?

I've talked a lot about bullying in the workplace, and yesterday wrote about some employees who are allowed to be consistently abrasive.

In a piece called The Last Word: Social Disgraces, that he wrote for Workforce Management, Ronald J. Alsop says that there is a less damaging, more subtle form of rudeness that is pervading the workforce. He says,

How many times have people disregarded your e-mail or replied in a condescending or hostile manner? Do you seethe when colleagues repeatedly check texts and e-mails or, worse, play games on their mobile devices during meetings? Such rudeness is typically attributed to our time-pressured, technology-driven world. But isn't that just an excuse for bad manners?

I think he has a point. While it's true that many of us are overworked and strapped for time, must courtesy be a casualty?

He goes on to say,

When I wrote my book The Trophy Kids Grow Up: How the Millennial Generation Is Shaking Up the Workplace, virtually every manager and college professor I interviewed related anecdotes about young people who sent curt, sometimes disrespectful texts and e-mails and often failed to show up on time for work or school.

So is the root cause of workplace rudeness people being stressed for time or is it a product of a younger generation? Take our poll below and tell us what you think.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

30 comments
Pravat
Pravat

I'm not sure if this has anything to do with the age group. Some people are just on their on no matter what, or just tend to behave that way when they start to care a little less about their responsibilities and at times ready to move on.

maclovin
maclovin

Yes, because the parents have NO influence on how kids develop. Children are a product of their parents and a product of those they surround themselves with. Sometimes, especially at work, I can come off as abrasive, and I am aware and attempting to change that....my knowledge of proper tact is immense, but changing bad habits is tough, and will happen over time. This is also being a product of my industry....to an extent. I hear lack of sleep, fatigue, etc. CAN contribute to one's bad behavior. I know this sounds CRAZY....like Bill O'Reilly's "tide goes in, tide goes out, NEVER a miscommunication" (lack of) theory. The parents are the real individuals at fault, and those parents are the same ones in the workplace bitching about people's disrespect....this coming from some people that used to view people of color as non-human. How can this issue of rudeness be solved? TALK about it. That's it. Once-a-year reviews are BS, and, much of the time, don't even happen. Your TOP priority should be your employee's attitude. Ask for feedback on a regular basis. MAKE some changes. Employment IS a two way street. All that being said, your still not allowed to browse porn..... Now, get off my network!!!! :D

JTONLY
JTONLY

UH. NOT YOU AGAIN! WHAT DO YOU WANT? THIS SUBJECT IS SO STUPID! I WAS HAVING A FINE DAY UNTIL I OPENED THIS GARBAGE SUBJECT. IF YOU CAN'T DEAL WITH YOUR LIFE WELL, JUST GO OUT AND GET ANOTHER! DON'T BOTHER ME AGAIN! Kind regards, J T (ROTFLMAO) Generally speaking, everything comes from the "Top", and works it's way down through the ranks. At a former "employment opportunity", not a word was said regarding a heavy call-out between two employees in the main office area, the recipient of which after the fact just said HASTALA VISTA. Regards.

sissy sue
sissy sue

I have been in the workforce for over 40 years, and I don't think that rudeness in the workplace is on the increase. People are more thoughtless than rude when they use their cell phones in inappropriate places. When they do, it's generally because they are responding to a call rather than initiating the call themselves. Thirty, forty, fifty years ago, you would think it was rude if the store clerk waiting on you stopped what he/she was doing to answer the phone (and this happened a lot). It's a matter of responding to stimuli (ringing phone). In the past, we didn't carry our phones with us. More ringing phones, more thoughtless people answering them. No big deal. As for other forms of rudeness, it is up to management to set the tone at an organization. If respect for one's colleagues is not part of the work culture and if management encourages a hostile and ill-mannered environment, it is only natural that employees would respond in kind. That would not be a place where I'd want to work.

shannonbill87
shannonbill87

What kind of humanity do we want to have--If being early is on time then why isn't being very early overtime chargeable. Why must obcessive control freaks give the entire society heart disease? If one is late are they stealing from the company? Should they not be taken out and shot immediately!

mjstelly
mjstelly

Every generation blames its successor for the social ills and impending demise of society. In the 50's, it was rock n' roll; the 60's - drugs, hippies and free love; 70's - disco. I don't know about the 80's because I was too busy blaming Reagan for everything. But I have observed this: we, as the so-called "boomers", have inadvertently foisted an ingrained sense of entitlement on our kids. Now we're paying the price for not allowing our kids to experience the true consequences for their actions. My opinion is that this generation is rude because we made them that way. If you grow up getting rescued from every stupid choice you make, you begin to feel invincible and untouchable. So, I say we "lower the boom" on these folks. Set boundaries. If they're playing mobile phone games, then ban cell phones in your meetings. Document every instance of disrespect or ignored email. Because, believe it or not, this behavior impacts your business. If you can attribute lost productivity, and therefore money, to this behavior, you'll have a solid foundation for addressing and rectifying these actions. If you don't build the case, then you'll be perceived as a disgruntled old codger.

beard
beard

Rudeness is quite simply brought on by rudeness. It is in part related to the self-centeredness of our colleagues and frequently, at least in a support environment, by the misconceived belief that we have a magic wand. I however have no compunction being rude to someone who has visited the same favor upon myself. If you walk into my office, see that I am in the middle of typing a response to another of your colleagues, and instantly speak your mind anyway, do not be surprised if my response is not favorable. If however they are willing to wait patiently for the brief moments it takes me to finish, I will be more than happy to help them as best as I am able. Unfortunately, everyones problem is mopre important than everyone elses.

OakvilleMyKey
OakvilleMyKey

I am in my late 40s and I don't find the younger generation more rude or more polite than older people. It's pretty narrow-minded to state that young people are the problem. People of all ages respond based on their upbringing and their environment. Is the author old and crusty, maybe? (sorry, was that rude?)

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Rude is social. Many brits (particularly older ones) find the american habit of using your forename without permission rude. I had an american manager, who had me down as rude because I interupted one of his meetings to tell him and my team leader that all our servers had gone down. A brit will call his mates wankers and his enemies sir.... Rude is deliberate.

aandruli
aandruli

The reason we have so many people are being so rude is because they can. Reporting the rude person to your supervisor is more likely to annoy your supervisor than to solve any problems. And people are far less likely to quit or be outright fired in this economy -- there are few outright firing because HR departments have had to deal with so many layoffs and would rather not, in good conscious, fire someone unless they absolutely had to. Like so many things, rudeness exists because it can.

lindsay396
lindsay396

I love the Internet and e-mail....but I think that with the advent of instant communication has come an often unreasonable expectation of instant response to everything anyone chooses to send me. Last night, I got an angry e-mail only minutes after I did not answer a personal call (I was in the bathroom!) The e-mail also demanded an instant response to a question about weekend plans! Now we are NOT talking life and death issues! I see this at work, too...an e-mail followed by an IM, asking why the e-mail wasn't answered! Jeez, folks! THAT is rude! So I would add another choice to your poll..."Always on connectedness has created an unrealistic and invasive assumption of instant responses" It's almost enough to make me a ludite! Almost!

RW17
RW17

From my experience, it is as simple as the level of stress a person is under, and the duration of that stress. Take a person in a stressful situation that is short-lived, and you will find the person puts their head down to resolve the stressful situation in a focused, non-rude manner. This is fine. If they tell you that they can not help with something because of the priority of their stressful situation, we can all completely understand that. However, stress someone out for long periods of time, or stress them out every day of their work week and weekends, and rudeness is bound to creep into their interactions with people. Simply put: they are shell-shocked! Throw in another shell and you are suddenly a part of the problem they are facing. It's not personal. It's simply a bad work situation. Unfortunately, any rudeness is taken personally. I believe I am not a rude person, but I know I have been rude at times. It shames me and I think about it often. I am in the position of the shell-shocked worker. I know I must change this, but it is not so much a change of me but rather a change in the scenario I find myself in. Trust me, I long to be that more reasonable person I believe I really am. Right now, reasoning takes time and thought and these things are not available as part of my 12+ hour days, every day, every week, every month, every year.

Barshalom
Barshalom

The root of rudeness in the job place is because the employee is not fulfilling their purpose in life. Example, you have a disgruntled cashier, but his/her true passion is carpentry, so they go to work unfulfilled and frustrated. Everyone should pursue what they are gifted to do, then they would be more happier in the work place. Most get in the field because of the money, it pays the bills, but their true passion is something totally different. Passionate people who love their work have no problems working long hours, to them it is fun and the time just flies. This can be said of the IT field. Those who are truly called to this profession will find a way to stay employed in the field, no matter what the state of the economy.

Kris.J
Kris.J

Manners are deteriorating across all aspects of American life. When I eat out in a restaurant, men sitting there eating a meal with their hats left on. Mobile ring tones going off in restaurants is another lack of manners. This country is becoming more self-centered, self-entitled, and more driven by instant gratification. The current crop of 20-somethings is the worst. It's like they don't get ANY of what I call "home training" - how to behave like a gentleman / lady, have good manners, etc.

HckrAdm2005
HckrAdm2005

I consider myself of the younger generation (just turned 24) and unless i'm of the minority for my age group I don't think it's my generation causing the up-tick in rudeness. Now i'm not saying there are not rude people in my generation but not the dominate factor. I see many people in other work places and mine that are much (10+ year) older then me and can be very rude and abrasive. Also there are a few points that I don't agree with that constitute as being "rude". I don't see as being late for work as being rude. I call it bad work ethic and it shows the integrity/character of an employee. I was en-grained to always be early since middle school (if your early your on time, if your on time your late). Playing/texting on ones phone in a meeting also to me isn't being rude as in being very disrespectful. It to me shows ones immaturity and lack of respect for the speaker and the people being in the room. Just my two cents and If i am in the minority of my generation then god help us :)

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

I've never heard such BS in all my life, and I'm really old, man. Seems to me you hate everybody. I guess showing respect would be difficult for you.

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

Yes, the parents bred the child. But while the parents are the most direct form of influence, there are scores of other influences readily ignored. Possibly out of political inconvenience or a score of other possibilities. I don't care about those. The fact ambient circumstances exist means they have to be said. And while it's easy to blame teachers, are they not allowed to discipline children? (And if they are, what if the parents disagree with the discipline?) The mindset of "keeping up with the Joneses" and having to be and look and do like everyone else doesn't help, either. If you're "not the same" and everybody wants everybody else to be "the same"... why aren't we encouraging individuality, which ranks right up there with innovation and creativity? Or do people really want things to be "the same"? Homogeneous... if not monoculturalistic?

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Restrooms. There are certain places I don't answer the phone if it rings, and that's one of them. I will silence my cell phone immediately if it rings and call the individual back as soon as I'm finished. Ever been sitting there, quietly playing Tetris and had the person in the next stall over say "Hey, how's it going?", wait a few seconds, then respond to an answer? WTF? You stopped to take a dump and decided to call your spouse, BFF, or boss? Get real!

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

Wouldn't we love to. But it's too late now. We're already disgruntled old codgers. GenX, Y, and whatever have had their training now and we blew it with our mollycoddling attitude.

maclovin
maclovin

You're an idiot. ------POST I WAS GOING TO WRITE BELOW------ So, everyone in that generation that displayed racism towards a person of color should now be held responsible for their actions, to the T? Perfect, MAKE IT SO! Because THAT's the generation that taught people to be disrespectful of others, and don't you DARE think for a second that the predecessors are at complete falt for the way they act. But hey, the parents have gotten off Scot-free (pun intended) so who cares, punish the kids, and build your case for FIRING them. Rather than WORK on the problem. If I was a bettin' man, and I'm not...I'd bet on you voting righty every time....but you SURE sound like NorK in this case!!! Odd, ain't it. Bottom line: this damn country (USA, for those not from here) is BASED in double standards now, and it's effing annoying. ------END POST I WAS GOING TO WRITE------

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

A lack of respect for elders is innately rude, and calling them "crusty" redoubles the offense. The pity is that you don't know what is rude and what is not. The difference seems to be that nowadays some feel showing respect for others is somehow limiting their right to free speech. My question is - Why? What has changed our society so? Coming up in the fifties, I was raised with so - called "traditional" values. I would stab myself in the hand before I would show disrespect for my elders, or for my peers, for that matter. Sure, my friends and I would joke around - once we had come to know each other well enough - but showing rudeness to adults was ill advised, and we didn't want enemies.

maclovin
maclovin

and all that..I like the way you think!!!

Pravat
Pravat

Yup, I totally agree with your opinion. That's why someone said, there isn't a single great profession, if you really good and like what you do, you will make it one.

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

Yes, people that lack the time to pursue some happiness will definitely end up more irritated, amongst other things. But, yes, in a civilized society we all need to work to the betterment of ourselves AND of society. Any civilized culture would value the improvement of itself, rather than making a paradigm that allows extortion and opportunism to run rampant and unchecked. This is where I disagree with you. We all, once in a while, have to do work. But for the optimal results, using one's own talents and passion need to be used. If people value creativity, innovation, a solid product, blah blah blah, then people do have to embrace their passions. Live to work -- not merely work in order to live. Slavery is not nice, and psychological slavery is the second worst form of slavery... (the first clearly being economic slavery) And, transcending both of those, is what humans consciously place value on. What do we place value on and why? If we value the environment, why are recycling programs and janitorial work not valued? Why do we dispose of e-waste and pollute so readily? (Because it's cheaper...)

shannonbill87
shannonbill87

I don't believe that any individual is born with a job lable stuck on their head and that they can't be happy until they do such a thing. We have broad capabilities that can be nutured. Isn't it enough that an individual strive to meet the company's goals with honest work?

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

"Hi honey" *add sound effect of exertion* "Myeah, meat loaf sounds great!" *add sound effect of item falling into water* *add sound effect of relief* NO!!! I'm sorry! And, NO!!! I'll go

relwolf
relwolf

Were you responding to mjstelly as the thread indicates? If so did you read his/her post (http://www.techrepublic.com/forum/discussions/102-341001-3415644)? I can't find anything in your post that responds to it? I didn't see any indication of race, certainly wasn't a "righty" as mjstelly blamed Reagan for everything so you might want to respond to the correct thread.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

I dunno why, but I've always been better at talking with my seniors (20 years my senior and up) than with my own age group. I don't particularly show more respect to my seniors than to my own age group, though. I try to treat everybody as respected peers, unless they appear to look down on me, in which case I am quick to disregard them. Of course, if I've wrongfully judged someone, I do try to make up for that. And I try to hold off on permanent judgement if someone is behaving very different at different times, you never know what's behind that - crazy people is people too.

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

Okay, I agree that no individual is born with a label on their heads. Being born is something of a miracle. We are all miracles and God's gifts... with freedom. Freedom grants us the right to find what we put passion into. It is passion that gets the best work out of us. Money, especially the lack of it, makes us slaves. Yes, we have capabilities that can be nurtured. Or opted to be neutered if we choose not to develop them. But we are people, not machines - we are not programmed the same way, nor do we react in the same ways. That's part of human nature to begin with. Your mentioning "strive to meet the company's needs" basically resigns any possibility of being one's own business or even entrepreneurship. Why should we all be at the mercy of companies? Nice way to turn a miracle into a drone... especially when you consider the average job length is, what, 3~5 years -- with all that job shifting and hoping another will take its place and hopefully in the same city since having to uproot and move elsewhere every 3~5 years has a larger number of repercussions that really start to eclipse my response. But the factors that end up to rudeness are considerable, never mind upbringing - which becomes irrelevant as the adult human adapts and changes in its ambient environment as well... And now I have to segue into competition. Isn't "competition" a good thing? At least until too much competition causes the big boy's profit margins to go down. Then enter the price wars, whose sole outcome is the elimination of competition. (then watch prices go up, because people no longer have a choice in provider. Cool, huh?) And I could go into about ten tangents over "honest work" and the lack thereof, especially by companies - and I already went into "price wars".