How the recession, work demands and a generational attitude have increased rude behavior

Rude behavior can happen to anyone.Emily Post recently conducted a survey finding 80% of us believe rude behavior is more common now than ever before. Why? Continuing effects of the recession, increased work demands with fewer personnel and “work creep.” (Not the strange guy that works next to you.  The inability to completely get away from work.  It creeps home in your smart phone and laptop etc…). Add to this the high expectations for holiday festivities. Then add the increased money needed to attempt these expectations and we get some really nasty people everywhere we look.

A Generational Attitude for Rude.

A major factor they’ve overlooked is Generation Y or the Millennial Generation. It’s the young workforce of today born between the early 80’s and 2000. Take the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study and the American Freshman survey, conducted by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute. It showed the proportion of students that felt being wealthy was very important to them increased from 45% for Baby Boomers to 75% for Millennials. Unfortunately, “Developing a meaningful philosophy of life” decreased the most, 73% for Boomers to 45% for Millennials.

The Trophy Kids Go to Work” author, Ron Alsop calls this generation “Trophy Kids”.  It’s named after the trend in sports where simply participating earns an award. This and other factors has led to an entire generation with unrealistic expectations in the workplace. Surveyors found huge increases in a sense of entitlement and narcissism. Parents who were forced to take odd jobs just to make ends meet somehow raised children that prefer unemployment to working for a job that isn’t luxurious enough for them. This is compounded by parents allowing them to stay in the family home rent-free for longer and longer. Their impetus to mature into adults is delayed and it’s created a new lifestage of “emerging adulthood”.

The Cost of Rude Behavior.

Lazy companies such as Old Navy have simply taken to using social media to “correct the rudeness” with coupons and discounts to complaining customers. The smart companies such as Goldman Sachs have been inspired to study and address rude behavior in this generation while trying to find ways to make them more comfortable in the workplace. And it’s coming none too soon.

Professors Christine Porath of the McDonough School of Business and Christine Pearson of Thunderbird School of Global Management surveyed this generation of workers. They found the following responses to working with rude people.

• 48% intentionally decreased their work effort
• 47% intentionally decreased the time spent at work
• 38% intentionally decreased the quality of their work
• 80% lost work time worrying about the incident
• 63% lost work time avoiding the offender
• 66% said that their performance declined
• 78% said that their commitment to the organization declined
• 12% said that they left their job because of the uncivil treatment
• 25% admitted to taking their frustration out on customers

Clearly this is costing employers a lot of money in lost productivity and increased training costs. But it also costs in lost creativity, deterioration of team spirit, lack of customer loyalty and the cost of mitigating wronged customers.

This is not just a problem in the U.S.. The summer of 2012 the French were fighting public rudeness with posters showing rude people as animals on public transportation. One depicted a woman as a chicken clucking loudly on a cell phone with other passengers covering their ears. If the French have noticed rudeness you know it’s bad.

Surviving Rude Behavior.

So how can we survive rudeness this holiday season? Jack Salath has a few ideas when dealing with a business.

• Be friendly and positive regardless of how you’re treated.
• Understand the stores policies so you know what to expect, preferably before shopping.
• Choose the day and time wisely. Busy times are not good times.
• Give them time to help you. Instant results are often not possible.
• Know what you want and communicate it clearly.
• Have clear and reasonable expectations.
• Recognize when you need to move up the ladder. When you reach a dead end, start climbing.
• Control your emotions and don’t be rude yourself.
• Provide appropriate feedback, good and bad so you become known.

Lisa H at Purpose Fairy has a few ideas when dealing with friends, family and strangers.

• Don’t take it personally. Unless it’s personal.. then… um… try something else.
• Consider it may just be a bad habit instead of an intentional slight.
• Confront the person in a calm and friendly way.
• Avoid them.
• Don’t allow yourself to get dragged into their drama.
• Objectify the situation. Look at their behavior as something different from them.
• Drown them in kindness. Their being rude may become painfully obvious.

So this year, armed with this knowledge hopefully you’ll be able to understand where the rudeness is coming from, survive it and avoid making Santa’s Naughty List yourself all at the same time. But good luck. It’s rough out there.


Holidays bring out rude behaviors

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