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Rudeness in workplace can ‘wreak havoc’: University of Calgary study

The University of Calgary. Riley Brandt, University of Calgary, 2012

New research conducted by the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary delved into the effects of workplace rudeness on employees’ health and sense of belonging.

The study was done in conjunction with the London School of Economics and Political Science. It also looked at the psychological and physical impact of workplace incivility.

The research showed that when a worker experienced rudeness from the same person it could wreak havoc on that employee’s sense of belonging and lead to feelings of embarrassment and job insecurity.

In some severe cases, the victims showed physical symptoms such as headaches and sleeplessness.

Lead researcher Sandy Hershcovis said in some cases the effects lasted a few days.

“These negative consequences can persist for an average of three days after they occurred,” she explained. “It is important to note that incivility is more embarrassing when it comes from someone who is powerful, and that the powerful exacerbate the already negative effects of incivility.”

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Researchers studied two full-time employees who experienced the negative behavior in the workplace.

Hershcovis said the research highlighted the importance of companies addressing the behavior.

“It’s important for management to regularly reinforce people’s value, so that when the employees inevitably experience incivility they won’t be as threatened by it.”

The study is published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior.

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