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Are you (unintentionally) bullying your employees?

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Workplace bullying is increasingly becoming a key concern worldwide today, especially following the horrific incident where a reporter and her cameraman was shot in Virginia by an ex-employee whom they bullied.

But according to the latest research by  psychologists at Sweden’s Lund University, rude behaviour that bypasses formal anti-bullying rules have, in fact, become the new source for office conflict today.

The three researchers completed a survey of 6000 people and their workplace social interactions and found that a new battleground in the office is forming beneath the radar.

Staff today, the report stated, are indulging in a series of incivil behaviour, which has become the root of significant workplace discontent

While such behaviour is not prohibited, it does not conform to ideals of mutual respect-incivility.

Workplace incivility has been defined as  by the researchers as low-intensity deviant behaviour with ambiguous intent to harm the target, in violation of workplace norms for mutual respect.

Uncivil behaviour involves being characteristically rude and discourteous, displaying a lack of regard for others.

The academics identified some examples of incivility- deliberately withholding vital information; forgetting to invite a colleague to a group event; taking credit for the work of others; withholding praise and spreading rumours about a co-worker.

ALSO READ: Hey boss, you’re being rude

“It’s really about behaviour that is not covered by legislation, but which can have considerable consequences and develop into outright bullying if it is allowed to continue,” research leader Eva Torkelson told

The most common offensive act is mimicking the behaviour of a colleague.

All these rude behaviours can quickly degenerate into a vicious cycle of nastiness, leading to reduced job satisfaction, less efficiency, higher staff turnover and increased conflict.

Fellow researcher Martin Bäckström pointed out that people who behave rudely in the workplace tend to experience stronger social support, which makes them less afraid of the consequences of their despicable behaviour.

But there is hope. “When people become aware of the actual consequences of their rudeness, it is often an eye-opener.  And, of course, most people do not want to be involved in making their workplace worse.” added Torkelson.  

ALSO READ: Why being rude at work is more harmful than you thought

Image: Shutterstock

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