More than merely annoying, rude behaviour is a catalyst for aggression and decreased productivity. When an employee is getting on everyoneís nerves, too many managers are too quick to say ďoh, thatís just himĒ…. especially when itís a star performer.
Addressing behaviour is one of the hardest things that leaders have to do. We donít like calling out behaviours – generally because it can be pretty subjective and the Ďrulesí are a little ambiguous. But some new research might make you think again about accepting a team memberís rudeness.
Professor Ido Erev, a specialist in behaviour explored the effect of rudeness. Simply, he asked students to turn up to an office to take a test. Outside the door of the office, obscured by a million post it notes, was a small sign that said ďtest moved to another locationĒ. Most students, unable to locate or read the sign, walked into the office anyway, interrupting a lecturer. The lecturer did one of two things: they either turned on the student saying things like ďare you stupid? Canít you read?Ē or else they pleasantly told the student of their mistake, and pointed them in the right direction.
Down the hall, in the new location, the students took a problem solving test (this is what they thought the experiment was about). The results were astonishing: the students who were treated rudely scored significantly worse in the test than those who were treated pleasantly.
But hereís another impact. The students also did a classic creativity test – in two minutes, they had to think of as many uses as possible for a brick. Those who were treated rudely concocted far more aggressive uses for the brick than those who werenít, including smashing windows, using it as a weapon, and weighing down a dead body in a river!!
So next time you hear complaints about rude or unfair behaviour amongst your team, think twice about looking the other way. You just never know how big the impact is to those around you. You might even find yourself on the wrong end of a brick.