It is important to design workplaces that reduce the likelihood of rude behavior, for more than the obvious reasons. It is particularly important to smooth interactions that might occur during morning hours, for example as people arrive or get early cups of coffee. The Woolum team found that if employees are relatively less confident and emotionally stable “a single exposure to [witnessed, i.e., visually observed] rudeness in the morning can contaminate employees’ perceptions of subsequent social interactions leading them to perceive greater workplace rudeness throughout their workday. . . . we find that witnessed morning rudeness leads to greater perceptions of workplace rudeness throughout the workday and that those perceptions, in turn, predict lower task performance and goal progress and greater interaction [with co-workers] avoidance and psychological withdrawal.”
Andrew Woolum, Trevor Foulk, Klodiana Lanaj, and Amir Erez. “Rude Color Glasses: The Contaminating Effects of Witnessed Morning Rudeness on Perceptions and Behaviors Throughout the Workday.” Journal of Applied Psychology, in press.