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How Rudeness Stops People from Working Together

Leaders set the tone. A study of cross-functional product teams revealed that when leaders treated members of their team well and fairly, the team members were more productive individually and as a team. Photo: Colourbox

Incivility can fracture a team, destroying collaboration, splintering members’ sense of psychological safety and hampering team effectiveness. Belittling and demeaning comments, insults, backbiting and other rude behavior can deflate confidence, sink trust and erode helpfulness — even for those who aren’t the target of these behaviors.

Once incivility occurs, it’s easy for negative thoughts to seep into people’s heads and stay there, translating into negative behavior. It makes sense: When someone behaves poorly or offensively, bad feelings spread and behaviors escalate, sometimes becoming aggressive or dysfunctional. Even relatively minor incidents — when people thoughtlessly put down others or publicly question their capabilities — leave an imprint, whittling away at them, their performance and their well-being...

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