Study: Work Incivility Rises

Do you often find yourself angry while at work? If you answered yes, you're not alone. A recent study has found that almost one in four Americans experience chronic anger in the workplace.

While men account for 70 percent of all rude behavior in the office, when it comes to those on the receiving end of the rude behavior, 12 percent actually quit their job to avoid the situation.

Correspondent Russ Mitchell spoke on CBS This Morning with Edward LaFreniere, an expert in employer-employee relationships at The Marlin Co., which sponsored this study.

The study, "Workplace Incivility: The Target's Eye View," was presented Aug. 10 at the Academy of Management's annual convention. The authors interviewed and surveyed 1,400 workers and generated a list of suggestions on improving the workplace culture.

The majority of those interviewed, 78 percent, said incivility has worsened in the last 10 years. The study also found that rude people are three times more likely to be in higher positions than their targets.

Men are seven times more likely to be rude or insensitive to underlings than to superiors. But women are equally rude to superiors and subordinates, the study found.

This study, produced with the help of the Yale School of Management, really wasn't about violence in the workplace, but the prevalence of anger was one of the findings. Many factors contribute to the fact that 8 million to 10 million people say they are angry or very angry.

LaFreniere cited a connection with the downsizing of recent years. "There is still a lot of that going on. A lot of this is also tied in with stress," he said.

"What we're finding is, as part of our business at the Marlin Co., is that companies realize they have to deal with stress, whether it results from job stress or whether it results from stress stemming from one's personal life," said LaFreniere. His company, which helps managers communicate better with employees, advises Fortune 500 companies and small firms.

When asked whether the booming economy has placed more of a burden on workers, LaFreniere said, "Right now, it's a worker's market. What that means is that the workplace has to react to it. The workplace has to do a better job of educating its people in dealing with the stress."

He suggested workplaces set up programs, communicate with people and tell them how to cope with caring for an elderly parent, which will affect as many as 30 percent of workers in another 10 years or so.

"The most surprising finding to me has been that people feel at sea in terms of how to deal with stress; 46 percent of people say that they don't know how to manage it, that they need help managing it," he said.

According to the "Attitudes in the American Workplace Poll" for 1999, "nearly half of the people in this country say they don't have time to manage stress," he said. "This is falling increasily on the workplac."

"What happens is stress can turn into anger, and I think once you become angry, anything can happen," LaFreniere said.

"Surveys will tell you as many as half of the people in the country will suffer a very serious ailment that will require treatment for psychological problems. Anybody can snap," he added.

And what is LaFreniere's advice for dealing with rude behavior?

"Be nice to each other," he said.


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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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