The APQC Blog

What’s Good About Bad Manners at Work?

Think about a time when you were treated with disrespect while at work. Most, if not all, of us have had this experience. Whether in the form of texting during meetings, gossiping about co-workers, withholding information, or taking credit for others’ work—bad manners and uncivil behaviors are a common and arguably unavoidable part of working life.

Now think about the impact that feeling disrespected had on you and your work. My guess is that there were some downsides to the experience. Workplace incivility has been linked with increases in employee stress levels and reductions in employee engagement. Rude behaviors in the workplace have also been associated with diminished productivity and poor customer service.

Think again about your experience of disrespect at work. Were there any positive outcomes? Could there have been any positive outcomes for you or the organization? These are questions that I had not considered until I learned about Dr. Jamie Callahan of Texas A&M University. Dr. Callahan was the speaker for APQC’s May Human Capital Management Community Call. In her work, Dr. Callahan explores “the bright side” of workplace incivility. She argues that uncivil workplace behaviors are signals that work processes or procedures need to be improved.

Listen to a complimentary recording of the call during which Dr. Callahan discusses:         

  • What incivility is, and is not
  • Common catalysts of incivility
  • Problems with traditional responses to uncivil behavior
  • Alternative responses to treat the causes of incivility, instead of addressing only the symptoms