May 05, 2009

11 causes of rudeness

Rudeness diminishes and demeans others. It is taking without giving.

Unfocused rudeness is done in obliviousness.
Focused rudeness is mean-spirited. Continued focused rudeness can be bullying or harassment.

Rudeness damages others by creating stress, eroding self-esteem, creating problems in relationships, making things difficult at work and escalating into violence. Rudeness leaves us vulnerable to self-doubt and anxiety. People who are treated rudely can withdraw or become aggressive.

Acts of workplace rudeness, of incivility are a serious threat to our quality of life. Productivity is inevitably compromised.

What causes rudeness?
1. Individualism and lack of restraint—I’ll do it my way. When we care little about what others think of us, we think little of them. We feel less bound by respect and restraint.
2. Inflated self-worth—People who are self-absorbed don’t value others except as a means to fulfill needs and desires.
3. Low self-worth—People who are insecure may become defensive and hostile.
4. Materialism—The quest for money and possessions to be happier often is futile and frustrating, resulting in less kindness to others.
5. Injustice—People who perceive they have been treated unfairly can become demoralized, depressed, indignant or outraged. The injustice may be a feeling of envy—it’s unfair that you are smarter, better looking, wealthier than I am.
6. Stress—People who are overworked or overwhelmed with things to do can react from stress.
7. Anonymity—We move among strangers on the streets; we don’t know our neighbors.
8. Not needing others—“We are content in electronic isolation. This is not exactly a strong incentive to work on our social skills….We want the feeling that we can connect with them without the burden of having them at our door.”
9. Anger
10. Fear
11. Mental health problems

---Source: The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude by P.M. Forni
This is Forni’s second book on civility. He’s a leading authority on civility.

Civility does not mean one ignores rudeness---I’ll get to that.

August 10, 2007

Home invader caught---it is the work you didn’t leave in the workplace

The victims are the people you live with, your friends, your community and you.

If you earn lots of money, you may be expected to work all the time. But for the rest of us, life is much more fulfilling if we leave work in the workplace.

Why is leaving work at work so difficult?

1. Technology, primarily e-mail. This post is a result of the comment put on my last post. Dennis was home and quite ill but kept getting e-mail requests to do work things. There are times to not respond to email messages. Times to not open work email--- outside work hours, on vacation or illness. But if you do and are tempted to work, convince yourself you are not going to respond.

Maintain a different email account for your personal life. I’ll do a post on that next week that hopefully will convince you it’s a very real necessity.

2. The inner drive to advance at work or convince yourself you are indispensable. Why is there that drive? One is the quest for money. Another is to feed our egos. There are altruistic reasons to want advancement, of course, the dedication, compassion and abilities to be a leader for the public good.

3. Work is your life. This is where I’d fit in community. If work is your life, pursue something else. There are many nonprofit organizations that will connect you with people who aren’t your coworkers and improve your sense of self-worth. Volunteer for a cause you believe in.

Do you see the theme? The ones outside altruism are reasons for or vehicles of incivility.

Read on
How to Leave Work at Work, (and more suggestions in the discussion to his post)
How to leave work at work,
Blackberry Orphans,

P.S. This blog is not part of my job so that’s why the reading, writing and posts are outside work hours.

April 17, 2007

Distracted by technology…reason 3 for incivility today

Rather than improve our work lives, technology has stripped us of support services, dehumanized the workplace, and plugged us in around the clock. Giovinella Gonthier, ‘Rude Awakenings: Overcoming the Civility Crisis in the Workplace’

It is hard to escape the cell phones, the computers, the iPods. Often it means less direct human contact and certainly some people use technology to write what they would never say in person. At times bosses demand we are always accessible. Stress. And more stress comes because there’s always something new to learn about these devices.

We can’t lay all blame on the workplace.
We have an infinite appetite for distractions, says Michael Bugeja, Director of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University.

Bugeja talked at the Iowa State presidential university lecture April 4. He defined consumer technology as that which entertains, distracts and makes someone a profit. It includes cell phones, computers, televisions and all the accouterments such as Web sites, games, podcasts, text messaging, instant messaging, ring tones, e-mail. “It is omnipresent and distracting”, said Bugeja.

Searching for community, again
His topic was the search for community in a technological age. Community—we were searching for that in reason 2 for incivility. (Many of the reasons for incivility are intertwined.) Technology was supposed to connect us but often ends up passive and inactive. Rather than being interactive, it often creates a social void.

Bugeja says technology has replaced relationships and thinking. This age of distraction undermines critical thinking which creates new knowledge. Without critical thinking, we have trendy knowledge. Technology homogenizes culture. We are on cell phones around the world. Farmers have cell phones in their tractor cabs. Facebook says it is a community. It is not a true community.

Consumer technology to a large degree is used for entertainment when that may not have been the intent of the device. Take news. What is news today? Is the entertainment stuff passed off as news more important than real journalism which seeks to inform the public so people can make their own decisions and conclusions?

‘interpersonal intelligence’
Bugeja talks about ‘interpersonal intelligence’—knowing when, where and for what purpose technology is appropriate. He says IF you understand when to use e-mail, when to use the phone, when to have a meeting in person—you will be successful. In other words, how savvy a communicator are you? Do you understand what effective communication is in today’s world? Control the technology and you will be empowered.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
- George Bernard Shaw, Irish literary critic, playwright and political activist (1856-1950)

P.S. It is very important to understand when to use e-mail, when to use the phone and when to meet in person. Important enough that I’ll work on that as a separate post. In the workshops I’ve led, that’s always a source of irritation and of confusion.

April 10, 2007

Alone…so alone, reason 2 for incivility today

“A frightening number of our neighbors are feeling so alienated, isolated, and anonymous that they can be rude with no remorse or fear of reciprocation.” Giovinella Gonthier, from ‘Rude Awakenings: Overcoming the Civility Crisis in the Workplace’

“Anonymity is our constant companion.” P.M. Forni, from ‘Choosing Civility, The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct’

“We have no fellow passengers; we are in this struggle we call life for ourselves alone…If we are alone in life, why bother to be polite?” Stephen Carter, from ‘Civility: Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy’

Loneliness is an emotional state in which a person experiences a powerful feeling of emptiness and isolation, of being cut off, disconnected from, and alienated towards other people. Wikipedia

We live among strangers. We shop among strangers. What ties do we have to the community in which we live?

Some of us came from small towns and rural areas where everyone knew our family; some of us still live there. Today are those places cohesive communities where people still know their neighbors?

Erosion of community
Family was the ultimate community, the support system. Today family members are scattered. I have seven first cousins living in four states. One has disappeared. When do I see the others? Funerals. My husband of almost 35 years has 16 living first cousins. By my guess about some of them, they live in 13 states. There’s one cousin, and maybe two I’ve never met. (Is that unusual?) Add divorces that alter and affect the family more.

“Because of the well-documented decline of the structures that traditionally helped sustain moral norms—most notably the three-legged stool of family, religion, and the common school—we enter the market or politics with flimsy moral armament. We lack the tools to consider what we should value or should want, to say nothing of how we should act, and thus more and more tend to follow our impulses.” Carter

Where do you find community and support today?
A religious community is at the top of my list because there’s hopefully compassion and equality. While you share religious beliefs, you often are very different in occupations, place of residence, interests and other demographics.

Your workplace is may be a community, but how many fellow workers do you stay in contact with after one of you leave? A community in organizations, do you think? Carter says we join groups that affirm and lobby for our views rather than challenge them. They do not control our impulses but promise to defend our right to exercise them. Groups such as the National Rifle Association or Planned Parenthood or the American Association of Retired Persons.

Carter says the teaching of both social science and common experience is we are less likely to be rude to those we know well. Gonthier says “We can get by with crudeness or boorishness that wouldn’t be tolerated in a more cohesive community.” I say maybe.

Define civility
We believe we need to distinguish ourselves through achievement. Winning is everything so matter how we achieve it. We struggle every day to establish our identity and leave our mark. Forni says civility is the ability to internalize the notion that how you play the game IS more important than the final score.

To be civil toward others should not depend on whether we know them, should not depend on whether we like them. And sometimes to our credit, we rally around those who’ve suffered that we don’t know. But then some of the people we work with a lot are really uncivil to us. I suspect we need to talk about change, about fear, about busyness, about self-importance, about inner peace, about caring for fellow human beings.

I’m very interested in your thoughts and experiences on today’s lack of community.

April 02, 2007

Reason 1 for incivility today...possessions

We value and love things more than people.
We covet possessions. We are stressed working to purchase things we really don’t need. Self-centered behaviors are more prevalent than altruistic ones. We have little moral energy to spend on others; we are less attuned to the well-being of others.

Workers are in a cycle of work and spend -- the more you work, the more you spend. Think of a hamster or rodent exercise wheel.

We believe our self-worth is defined by
• our job title and our income bracket
• possessions that are socially visible—our clothes (often with visible brand names), our homes and our vehicles.

Our quality of life decreases.
We’re in a national orgy of overspending and living beyond our means. Call it compulsive buying, competitive spending, an addiction to consumption, conspicuous consumption. We compare our lifestyle and possessions to that of others. We emulate the upscale lifestyle of the most affluent. We often put up with outrageously bad behavior by financially successful people. We discard possessions at a record rate. We are drowning in the amount of stuff we own.

We don’t compete on the invisible: savings, giving to charities and working for the public good. We are the opposite: we’re in debt. The Commerce Department reported on Feb. 1 that for the second straight year Americans spent more than they made. The only time personal savings has been lower was in 1933 during the Great Depression.

Researchers, writers and advocates at the forefront
Juliet Schor is a professor of sociology at Boston College and was previously at Harvard University. The points of her book ‘The Overspent American: Upscaling, Downshifting, and the New Consumer’ (1998 hard cover title) and the 1999 paperback version‘The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don't Need’ are now on a DVD with the latter title.

Barb Wollan, ISU Extension Family Resource Management Specialist in central Iowa, and Holle Smith, County Extension Education Director in Emmet County, led a workshop on The Overspent American at 2007 Professional Development Day March 15. (See for a summary of the D VD and a link to the trailer on YouTube.) Contact any ISU Extension resource management field specialist ( to inquire about the film and presentations.

John de Graaf, activist filmmaker, produced PBS documentaries Affluenza (1996) and Escape from Affluenza (1998). He teamed with David Wann, a former EPA staffer and expert on sustainable lifestyles, and Thomas Naylor, professor emeritus in economics at Duke University, to write ‘Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic’ (2001). They define "affluenza" as "a painful, contagious, socially-transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more". They examine the spiraling cycle of overconsumption, spending, stress and broken relationships caused by obsession with uncontrolled economic growth at any cost.

The review says, “It's a powerful virus running rampant in our society, infecting our souls, affecting our wallets and financial well-being, and threatening to destroy not only the environment but also our families and communities.”

Schor is co-founder of the Center for a New American Dream, which offers resources to make it easier to live consciously, buy wisely and join others in the same pursuit. Mission statement: The Center for a New American Dream helps Americans consume responsibly to protect the environment, enhance quality of life, and promote social justice.

At the end of our days, what will we have?
Savings and value in real estate will help pay our bills.
Memories of trips, of friends, of family, of the work we’ve done will sustain us.
We can be content in what we’ve given away.
The clothes, the vehicles, the furnishings will probably be of little value or have already been disposed of.
Will we be able to say our love was active, that we loved others, individually and collectively more than we loved possessions?

I look forward to the day a new college coach or high-ranking university official says, “I want to renegotiate my salary; I don’t need or want this much money.” Or that person says, “I am giving away half my salary every year This year I’m donating to ….”

I salute those people whom one would never guess their wealth but leave lots to the local library or some other endeavor, those who when you see their name plackets in buildings, you say, “I had no idea they had that amount of money to contribute.”

“We are the hollow men / We are the stuffed men,"
T.S. Eliot, American-born poet, dramatist and literary critic (1888-1965)

Do you have affluenza? 15 true/false questions

Tips for beating affluence

Excellent article, well-documented
Sustainable Living Strategies for Breaking the Cycle of Work and Spend
by Viviane Simon-Brown, Oregon State University Extension Specialist

Books for more reading