Rudeness in work is rampant, and it’s on the rise.

As I read this opening line in “The Price of Incivility: Lack of Respect Hurts Morale – and the bottom line” by Porath and Pearson in HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Emotional Intelligence, I paused breathing for a moment.

It was shared in this research-based article that incivility can present itself in many forms, from insults, blame, belittlement, rudeness, door slamming, side conversation, exclusion, blatant disregards of people’s time, to a short check on your phone when someone else is presenting to you.

I couldn’t agree more. The conversations I had had with others, the incidents I had seen, the stories I had heard from many others, and the lessons I had learnt from my own experience suddenly hit me hard. They point me to the conclusion that rudeness in work – sorry, I meant, in life – is rampant, like the flowers blooming in the spring (except that one is not as favourable as the other – well, both are not favourable if you’re allergic to pollen or if you are a lonely hopeless romantic guy/girl).

Why would I say so?

Have you ever watched your colleagues or friends being shut down, accused, or blamed in front of so many others – to the point where you are the one feeling nauseous? I had. Some of us had. And we’ve got to shout at the doers:

You don’t tell your direct report that you don’t believe her when she told you that she had checked her work over weekend. You don’t get to do it by saying it’s just the way you are brought up. It’s sh*tty excuse for such demoralising act (it’s also showing that you might never change).

You don’t tell people that they are idiot for not thinking of ideas to make their work easier. You should have known that everyone wants his job to be easier! You could simply show the way (Oh! Only if you also know how).

You don’t send emails of accusations. To make it worse, you didn’t confirm the facts beforehand. You don’t get to point a blame if you don’t really understand. And even if you do, blaming, instead of trying to find solutions, is never good.


I myself find it hard to be civil, to act properly without putting others down, to put solutions first before the blame. But, if you know to what soul-destroying experience incivility can give birth, you would know that we’ve got to start checking our emotional competence.

Some of the ways to avoid incivility and practice civility, as extracted from the article and combined with my personal experience:

  1. Model good behaviour (some people are nice to be with and it’s a sign that they are a good model)
  2. Ask for feedback and pay attention to progress (deep 360 degree reviews will enable us to look into our strengths and weakness)
  3. Look for and teach civility (It takes a strong commitment to look for civility and to impose it into the way we live and work)
  4. Create group norms (e.g. in some of my friendship, we have come to agree that comments are to be delivered in positive notes)
  5. Oh, please do apologise if you think that you might have wronged some others (people are less likely to help you if you are viewed as an arrogant).


picture credits: here

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