According to a new study from Baylor University, a co-worker’s rudeness can have a great impact on relationships far beyond the workplace. Findings suggest that stress created by incivility in the office can be so intense that it follows the worker home and impacts how he or she treats his family and friends. Basically, rudeness is a disease and it spreads fast.
“Employees who experience such incivility at work bring home the stress, negative emotion and perceived ostracism that results from those experiences, which then affects more than their family life – it also creates problems for the partner’s life at work,” said Merideth J. Ferguson, Ph.D., assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship at the Baylor University Hankamer School of Business and study author.
As a result of the rudeness and stress following the employee home, his or her partner then usually has to pick up the slack for household responsibility. The study found that this kind of situation led to relationship strain.
The study included 190 workers and their partners. Workers were employed full time, had co-workers and had an employed partner who agreed to complete an online survey. After completing the survey, workers were asked to have their partners complete a separate survey. Approximately 57% of the employee sample was male with an average age of 36, while 43% of the partner sample was male with an average age of 35. Of these couples, 75% had children living with them.
“Unlike the study of incivility’s effects at work, the study of its impact on the family is in its infancy. However, these findings emphasize the notion that organizations must realize the far-reaching effects of co-worker incivility and its impact on employees and their families,” Ferguson said. The study suggested that one approach to helping prevent this would be for workers to turn to their organization for stress management and counseling.