Rude Co-Workers? It May Get Worse, Study Says

rude co-workers Have you noticed that there's a lot more negativity at work lately? Less patience, more competition, maybe longer hours that lead to short tempers and frayed nerves? For the second year in a row, about two-thirds, or 65 percent of Americans say that civility is a major problem, and it's extending to all areas of life -- especially the workplace where we spend so much of our time.

And it's only getting worse, according to the annual "Civility in America" poll released today by Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate in partnership with KRC Research. Over one-half of Americans (55 percent) believe that civility in America will decline in the next few years.

Specifically in the workplace, more than 4 in 10 Americans -- 43% -- have experienced incivility, or just plane rudeness, at work. A nearly equal number (38 percent) believe that the workplace is becoming increasingly uncivil and disrespectful. Many people are finding that with urgent demands and abbreviated forms of communication, like emailing, texting and tweeting, there just isn't time for common civilities like "please" and "thank you."

Not sharing credit is another major complaint, along with a lack of consideration for others' time and schedules.

Invasion of privacy, space and property are also a problem, whether it's someone helping themselves to your lunch in the breakroom refrigerator, or making a loud call on a cell phone for everyone to hear.

But the survey found that people aren't blaming each other for the deteriorating attitudes at work. They're blaming their bosses. Approximately two-thirds (65 percent) of those who perceive greater incivility in the workplace say that leadership is responsible. Researchers suggest that this perception could possibly be fueled by the cynicism towards CEOs brought on by the recent recession, or the belief that bosses are responsible for setting the tone, at the top, for acceptable behavior.

After workplace leadership, Americans who perceive greater incivility also point a finger at themselves, with 59 percent believing that they're responsible for workplace incivility. Other reasons for rudeness include the economy (46 percent) and competitiveness in the workforce (44 percent).

As a consequence of this growing trend, the majority of Americans (67 percent) agree that there is a critical need for civility training at work. We're having to be re-taught the basics that we learned in kindergarten, like how to play (or work) well with others.

Micho Spring, who chairs Weber Shandwick's Global Corporate Practice, states: "Our second annual "Civility in America" poll confirms that the decline in civility is seeping into all facets of American life, including our workplace, our schools, our online lives and consumer sentiment. The risk of companies losing business because of incivility is startling and growing. The topic of civility deserves to be part of the growing national debate on how we communicate responsibly in our daily lives."

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