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Are your coworkers rude? Careful – it's catching

As a boss, Horatio – not his real name – did not bring out the best in me. He set the tone on the day he offered me a full-time role, upgrading from a freelance gig, calling me a “cheeky bitch” when I responded to his question about salary requirements. We were, so to speak, off to the races of rudeness: Horatio was rude to me. I was rude back to him. The rest of the team, following the tone that we set, were pretty nasty to each other, too.

Each day I’d slog up the stairs to the office feeling heavy-hearted, wondering what new onslaught of unkindness Horatio and I would inflict on each other. This way of behaving was contrary to my usual demeanor; most people knew me, I think, as quite a kind person. “I don’t like Work Jean,” I declared one day to a friend, after another long day of being horrible to everyone around me, “she’s not a nice person.” But was it Work Jean’s fault? A new study says no: in the workplace, researchers have found, incivility is as viral as the cold you caught from that jerkface at the next desk who never stays home when he’s ill.

Writing in the Journal of Applied Psychology, a team from the University of Arkansas measured the self-control of 70 different employees over a 10-day period, and found that reductions in control and concentration led to increases in rudeness...

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