Sage Advice: The Cost of Bad Manners

“We are all born rude. No infant has ever appeared yet with the grace to understand how inconsiderate it is to disturb others in the middle of the night.”
~Judith Martin
(aka Miss Manners)

All of us are guilty of exhibiting a flash of bad manners from time to time; we’re human.

A particularly curt response or talking over a colleague in the heat of the moment can generally be forgiven and a simple ‘sorry’ does wonders to restore workplace equilibrium. However, when a display of bad manners becomes a pattern, it can negatively affect productivity and morale.

Dr. Barbara Griffin, organizational psychologist at the University of Western Sydney, conducted a study which found that as many as one in five people were experiencing bad manners as often as once a month.
More than 54000 employees across 179 organizations in Australia and New Zealand took part, and her findings have serious implications for businesses.

Undermining colleagues, repeated interrupting, making sarcastic comments, consistent tardiness, the absence of ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ – all are typical examples of poor behavior towards others. Behavior not necessarily directed at any one person in particular can also be a problem.  There’s that co-worker who withholds information or the person who makes derogatory remarks during every meeting.

Dr. Griffin states that when bad manners are consistently displayed and no effort is made to stop habitual offenders, the knock-on effects are adverse to company morale and productivity. There is less employee engagement and far less employee commitment, with the option to resign becoming a viable one for those constantly having to endure rude behavior.

Senior management needs to “create an atmosphere where people feel they are being treated fairly,” says Dr. Griffin. “Having procedures in place to manage rude behavior and ensuring these policies are clear to all employees is also vital.”

We should be able to expect the modelling of good behavior by those in charge, but too often it is not what we get. Employees in management positions can be equally guilty of exhibiting bad manners but will often get away with it because subordinates feel too intimidated to speak up.

Simple kindness goes a long way.

For a list of employee training topics , please email hperry@helen-perry.com

Helen Perry is a corporate & personal image consultant to companies and individuals desiring to optimize professional presence and productivity.  She is a two-time Pinnacle Award Recipient and one of Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women of 2018 (Houston Professional Woman Magazine).  Website: www.helen-perry.com

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