Femsy shares the office with Mansy, which is not easy for her. Mansy is often not greeting her in the morning, is not or hardly acknowledging her presence in the office, talks too loud on the telephone and is distracting Femsy from concentrating on her job by asking questions or making comments/jokes whenever it suits him.

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A great leader

  • Is credible and trusted by bosses, peers and subordinates;
  • Builds effective and cooperative relationships;
  • Reads situations quickly;
  • Listens for what is felt as well as said;
  • Role models expected behaviour.

How to best handle the situation:

Anything from simple insults to ignoring a co-worker to purposely excluding someone or withholding information can constitute rude behaviour.

Rude behaviour is contagious and can spread quickly through the workplace, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology” in June 2015. Workers tend to imitate the behaviour of their superiors and colleagues, so unpleasant behaviour can quickly spread if it is not tackled.

Sometimes colleagues don’t intend to be rude. When a colleague makes a comment that you perceive as rude ask what (s)he meant by it. If the colleagues’ rudeness is intentional and frequently repeats it is time to bring it up in a straight factual one-to-one talk and clear out mutual expectations. If the behaviour continues it is time to bring it up to higher management.

Learning suggestions:

  • People are rude because they can; it is that simple. Tackle it before it spreads:
    • Set and maintain expectations;
    • Regularly discuss with employees company values and the office code of conduct;
    • Create a supportive work-environment;
    • Eliminate negative talk and gossiping;
    • Make people aware of the consequences of their rudeness. It often works as an eye opener
    • Role model expected behaviour
  • Every organization has its own work and communication culture. A number of rules, though, apply to all businesses:
    • Show up for work and meetings on time;
    • Be respectful of others (don’t interrupt others, don’t get involved in office gossips, don’t have long personal phone calls in an open office area, etc.);
    • Be friendly to new employees;
    • Don’t take credit for other people’s accomplishments or ideas;
    • Speak the business language;
    • Dress appropriately;
    • Be approachable
  • Communicate in a clear manner: if you make your messages crystal clear, there is less room for misinterpretation of that message, including some one to think that you are rude 
  • Suggestions for a one-to-one “clear the air” conversation:
    • Prepare for the conversation so you can enter it calmly and with some examples, mention with each example how it made you feel, avoid direct blaming comments;
    • Agree on the way forward;
    • If the colleague’s rudeness continues and it creates a serious problem in the work place or can be perceived as bullying, it is time to bring it up to higher level management


How could you spread a “culture of niceness” in your company?

Femcommunity tips

We welcome your thoughts, experiences and comments on how you would deal with such a situation.


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