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The Cost of Having No Time to Be Nice at Work

In an article for The New York Times, Christine Porath shares research she has conducted on the costs of incivility in the workplace. It seems both health and productivity suffer dramatically.

Nice or Not

When incivility causes stress over too long a period, risks of obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and ulcers all increase, but that is just the beginning. Rude managers and employees inhibit productivity in numerous ways. For instance, in an experiment Porath performed with Amir Erez of the University of Florida, they had a group do anagram puzzles and engage in a brainstorming task. When this group was berated by the experimenter, they did 33 percent worse on puzzles and conceived 39 percent fewer creative ideas. When an alleged “busy professor” admonished a second group for wasting her time, the group did 61 percent worse on puzzles and had 58 percent fewer creative ideas. In fact, even just seeing incivility caused a group to do 22 percent worse on puzzles and generate 28 percent fewer ideas.

This notion extends to customers; if they see managers being rude to even just their employees, customers will likely generalize and develop negative feelings about the whole business. A problem is some leaders do not realize they are being rude, or they do not realize that being nice is not something that always requires them to “spend time” on it. Another thing to remember is that being nice does not need to be a zero-sum game—a person can be kind without being weak. Nonetheless, the current trend is disturbing, as Porath writes:

A quarter of those I surveyed in 1998 reported that they were treated rudely at work at least once a week. That figure rose to nearly half in 2005, then to just over half in 2011.

For more research insights, you can read the original article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/21/opinion/sunday/is-your-boss-mean.html

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