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Six examples of workplace rudeness

  • Story Highlights
  • Interruptions are offensive and habitual interruptions are worse
  • People often forget to say "please" and "thank you" at work
  • Do your part to keep the company's communal kitchen clean
  • Keep your private phone conversations private
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By Anthony Balderrama writer
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In the stressful, day-to-day work environment, many people forget to mind their manners on the job.

In the stressful, day-to-day work environment, many people forget to mind their manners on the job.

Are you rude?

You rarely steal candy from toddlers.

You don't trip people on crutches anymore.

You can't even remember the last time you made someone cry.

All in all, you could do a lot worse. You might not be in the running for a Good Samaritan of the Year Award, but you're a pretty decent person.

But how about your co-workers? Plenty of our daily interactions at work are befuddling. You're often left wondering if people are deliberately rude or just ignorant of their behavior. After all, you'd like to think people aren't going out of their way to inconvenience you.

With that in mind, we've taken a look at unappreciated behavior that rears its head in an effort to explain why it's rude and why you shouldn't do it (or why someone shouldn't do it to you).

1. You know what's rude? When someone --

Interruptions are offensive on many levels. When you interrupt someone, you suggest that your time and ideas are more important than everyone else's and that you have no interest in listening to what they have to say.

A rare offense is forgivable, but habitual interruption is problematic, according to professional coach Susan B. Wilson. "Some folks interrupt incessantly, whether you are on the phone, in a meeting, deep in thought or in another conversation."

2. No thanks

Aside from the phrases "Because I said so!" and "No," perhaps the most common thing you'll hear parents say to a child is, "And what do we say?" The prompt is, of course, for the child to tell someone "thanks" for a kind gesture -- a practice lost on many adults.

"The following statistic bears repeating," Wilson says. "In a 2002 Public Agenda survey, 48 percent of adults expressed only 'sometimes' encountering people who made an effort to say 'please' and 'thank you'; 16 percent said they saw such behavior 'practically never.'" A few words to show gratitude can put someone in a good mood -- or at the very least can keep someone out of a foul mood. Why not do it?

3. Table manners

Kara C.* has her share of venting to do about workplace rudeness, and at the top of the list is the lack of housekeeping manners she witnesses. In her company's communal kitchen, you won't have to look hard to see evidence that someone's recently enjoyed a snack in one of the cups or bowls littering the counter. She wants to remind her colleagues that maids don't work in the office, so they should clean up after themselves.

4. That's just #@*%ing rude!

Language is very subjective, and everybody has his or her own unique way of speaking. One person's "Howdy" is another person's "What's up?" When it comes to R-rated language, one person's "hell" is another person's "H-E-double hockey sticks." And that's something you should remember when interacting with others at work. It's less about the profanity itself and more about the fact that you don't care if it bothers the people around you.

5. Yes, all of us can hear you now

Teenagers are very private about phone conversations. They might be young, but they will give you a scowl that makes you feel like you're the child and they're the adult if you eavesdrop. Strange, then, how a dozen years later, many people do a 180 on this practice and want everyone to hear their conversations.

Cubicles are the norm in many workplaces, so one person's speakerphone conversation becomes an entire floor's business. Never mind how annoying it is to hear a conversation you're not a part of; think how bothersome it is to try to concentrate on work when someone's blathering in your ears. Rather than force your call on the whole department, invest in a headset or just hold the receiver in your hand.

6. I'm sorry, do I know you?

When you're walking down the hall and a co-worker is walking toward you, give a smile, a nod or some other greeting. No one's asking you to engage in a bear hug or to pretend you two are best friends. All anyone wants is an acknowledgement that you see them and that you're not going out of your way to avoid having any contact with them.

Why is this important, anyway? Well, think about the alternative: You walk down the hall and pretend not to see them by averting your eyes. You'd rather do anything but give a quick acknowledgement to this person. What kind of message does that send?

*Kara asked that her full name be withheld.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority

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