Rudeness Never Pays

leadership developmentI don’t know about you, but I’m always amazed when people are rude when it would be so much easier to be polite or just not say anything at all. I’m not sure if it’s more prevalent these days or that perhaps I notice it more? Recently, there was a great piece by NBC news about how rudeness begets rudeness.

What was amazing about the article is that there were several studies done to prove the point that when one is treated rudely or witnesses rude behavior, they are much more likely to behave rudely. Although this comes as no great surprise to me, the obvious downside for the workplace (or anywhere else for that matter) is a significant loss of productivity. This translates to dollars for the bottom line.

I often get called in when people behave badly in the workplace and it is usually a “well so and so did it” type of scenario. And typically, it starts with a rude behavior or some sort of perceived slight. Solving these types of workplace skirmishes is expensive and if continued, diminish the culture of the organization. It always starts small, someone is having a bad day and before you know it there is an incident.

Recently, I had to have my new car serviced. It’s an Alfa Romeo and the dealership is in Kirkland. The buying experience wasn’t great, but I got the car I wanted so I let go a lot of the little things I perceived as unprofessional. It took 3 hours to actually get the car when I had made an appointment, had financing lined up and negotiated the price, and this was just for starters. I made an appointment for my service for 2 weeks out because that was the first time they had a loaner available for me. Even though, they assured me when I bought it that I would have access to one. They tried to get me to arrange other transportation which I found odd as none of the previous new cars I bought ever asked me to do this. I explained that this was not an option. They confirmed the appointment by phone, email, and text. At 5:00 pm the night before, they canceled the appointment because they didn’t have a loaner. When I asked him how this could happen, the guy on the phone had a bit of a meltdown. He raised his voice, told me I wasn’t the only person he had to call and didn’t I understand how hard this was for him? I was a bit shocked at his rude response and in fact, wanted to be rude right back but instead, I said, “is this the level of service I can expect from this dealership?” He then went on to explain that if I wanted a loaner I needed to come in on Mondays or Fridays and book at least 4 weeks out, but it could still happen again. I said, “no thank you.”

The good news is I called the Seattle dealership and they were professional, efficient and most importantly, not rude. I won’t be recommending Kirkland Alfa Romeo anytime soon. I’m just one person but people do comment on my car and ask me about it a lot, so it could have been some potential business for them – guess where I will tell them to go?

Loss of productivity is one thing, loss of business is another. As the leader, it’s up to you to set the standard for politeness. It pays dividends, and not just the financial kind, more people will report a good “culture” if they are not afraid of being treated rudely at work.