It was Rodney Dangerfield who made us laugh when he repeatedly complained, "I get no respect." It's not so funny when people feel that way about the workplace. Examples abound: ignoring phone messages, disregarding the work of others, condescending tones, or coming to work without so much as a how-do-you-do?
A new study says that rudeness is on the rise in the workplace. Christine Pearson, a management professor at the University of North Carolina business school and co-author of the study, reports the costs of rude behavior. About 12 percent of people who experience rude behavior quit their jobs to avoid the perpetrator. Fifty-two percent reported losing work time worrying about such treatment, and 22 percent of those interviewed deliberately decreased their work effort in response to rudeness by a boss. The study showed that rude people are three times more likely to be in a higher position than their targets. As many as 95 percent of unhappy students and other customers will not tell you they are unhappy-they simply walk away or hang up the phone and remain unhappy.
Disrespectful behavior can go beyond day-to-day interactions. How you treat someone in the face of a dispute makes a big difference not only in the relationship but also in how you are seen by others who hear about the situation. Each unhappy customer or colleague will tell other people about his or her displeasure. Grapevine news travels fast, and perception shapes reality.
Here are some simple approaches for resolving a dispute:
- Show the other person that you are listening. Restate the problem by saying, "It sounds as if your biggest concerns are...Is that right?"
- Acknowledge the other person's point of view and identify any areas of agreement. "You know, I hadn't seen it that way before. I agree that..."
- Be ready to accept responsibility for any of your actions that may have contributed to the dispute. "I should have kept you better informed about..."
Even in the face of differences, strive to show respect for other people. Try not to:
- Interrupt the other person when he or she is speaking.
- Minimize or ignore the other person's feelings, such as "Frankly, I don't care if you are upset!" or "That's not my problem."
- Make insulting, sarcastic or stereotypical comments. "Well, everyone else seemed to get the information." Or "Even you should understand this."
- Shout or use inappropriate expressions or gestures. There is no need to curse, groan, or use dismissive hand motions.
- Lie about, deny, or misrepresent information.
What can you do about it? Start by assessing your own interactions and the points of service within your own department. Graciously bring offensive comments or actions to offender's attention-most of the time that is all that will be necessary.