A Virus In The Workplace (Climate of Health)

Are you in danger of catching “rudeness” from your co-worker? You bet, according to a new study in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

The research found that workplace rudeness “spreads like a virus.” To reach their findings, researchers from the University of Florida tracked 90 graduate business school students practicing negotiation techniques with classmates, with each person practicing with multiple partners over 7 weeks. In the end, they found that those who rated their partner as rude were far more likely to be judged as rude themselves by a subsequent partner.

A CNN story on the study found that people didn’t seem to have any control over the spread.

“What we found in this study is that the contagious effect is based on an automatic cognitive mechanism — automatic means it happens somewhere in the subconscious part of your brain, so you don’t know its happening and can’t do much to stop it,” the study’s lead author, Trevor Foulk, explained. “Anything from simple insults to ignoring a co-worker, to purposely dis-including someone or withholding information,” can create the toxic environment, he added.

The research claims that while we’ve long known rudeness is unpleasant….this new finding points out it may also be contagious. This comes on the heels of another study that found workplace induced stress is about as dangerous to one’s health as secondhand smoke. More on that can be found in this New York Times article.

A healthy work force is critical to our vision of making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation. Let us know if you think this “workplace virus” exists and if it does….what we can do to stop it from spreading.

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