Research from the Harvard Business Review shows that rudeness is running rampant. Fights on planes, unhappy fast-food customers, toxic bosses – the list goes on.
People like to blame the pandemic for an uptick in the uncouth, but I think it’s just our nature.
After all, it’s easier to take our everyday stresses and worries out on other people than deal with them ourselves, right?
Just a few years ago, about 50 percent of employees said they were treated rudely at work at least once a month. Today, that number has spiked to 76 percent, according to HBR.
So, how should we deal with all the rudeness when we venture out into the world?
I’ll give you three real-world examples of how I’ve done it.
I’d love to hear your stories as well. Shoot me an email and I’ll feature your ideas in a future article.
Approach No. 1: Smile and Nod
I was once verbally blasted over the phone by a boss for “working out of process.” The funny thing was, the process in question was one put in place by that very same boss.
Non-confrontational by nature, I patiently listened to this seasoned executive elevate his voice to a level so loud I had to turn the speaker volume down on my phone. And although a bit rattled by the whole situation, I stood my ground and let him know that I don’t respond to drama, theatrics, or screaming matches. If he wanted to call me back when he was more calm, I would be happy to have the conversation.
We didn’t have an official human resources department to file any complaints, so I confided in a few close co-workers, let the situation slide, and got back to work.
Approach No. 2: Let it Motivate You
I work with a leader out of Silicon Valley. He told me the other day that a prior boss gave him a heart attack. Not like the figure of speech. An actual heart attack.
Years later, my connection is using his past experience as fuel to build the most people-centric, positive corporate culture possible. He started his own company and tries every day to make his team feel valued and respected.
He also notices when his prior bosses view his LinkedIn profile to check in on his progress. And he’s hoping to stick it to them with a wildly successful business.
Approach No. 3: Realize the Customer Isn’t Always Right
The idea of bending over backwards for customers is a thing of the past. Unruly patrons are being prompted to respect business employees or else. They are being asked to leave establishments and being banned from stores. Even online retailers like Amazon and Waitrose have axed customers for too much negative complaining.
It’s a total mind shift for customer-facing retailers. I remember watching managers get reamed by customers at my first job in fast food. We were trained to operate under the ethos of making sure the customer is happy – no matter what.
I’ll never understand how “leaders” think verbal lashings help employees work harder or become more productive. Or how customers think rudeness will motivate workers to provide them better service. Research shows the opposite. We withdraw, harbor, resent, hold grudges, and get even.
And although experiencing rudeness can often be upsetting and stressful, it can lead to a stronger resolve and more self-respect…if you use it correctly.
Joe Szynkowski is the happy founder and owner of The UpWrite Group, a small local firm that has offered corporate communications, personal branding, public relations, and ghostwriting services since 2008. Email Joe@TheUpWriteGroup.com for more information.