Nastiness and rude behavior at the workplace is quite common in today’s stressful and anxiety- filled world. People deal with all sorts of frustrations, rejections and struggles in their personal lives. This truck-load of negativity has to find a vent somewhere. Who better than a subordinate, a co-worker or an unsuspecting customer service executive to blow off the steam against? If you find yourself in a professional situation where you can’t escape the nastiness, don’t give up. Remember, your work space can sometimes turn into a warzone and you may very well have to behave like a Spartan!
However, though it is easy to prophesize and difficult to practice, it is not impossible to get along with nasty people at work. Following some basic thumb rules, you can turn the proverbial Shreks of your lives into Prince Charmings (minus the hidden agendas of course!) To start with, stop fixating on the person and analyze the situation or environment which encouraged the nasty behavior towards you.
Ask yourself – are people nasty only towards you or with others too?
Many a times, we enjoy our pity party a little too much. The nasty and rude behavior which you perceive is designed particularly for you may, in fact, be a daily dose for everyone who works in your office. So consider very carefully if you are the only one that people treat in a nasty manner or its part of the company culture? If you are the only one receiving special treatment, then some special measures must be taken to retain your sanity and integrity. However, if everyone is enjoying the same level of nastiness in the workplace, then you should not spend so much of personal energy in figuring out a solution.
Determine whether the nasty behavior is habitual or situational.
Some people are naturally more rude and nasty than others. It needn’t necessarily means that they want to be rude. They are simply lacking certain social etiquettes or have grown up in a more blunt and straightforward environment. With such people, it becomes easier to get along if you learn to accept their bluntness as honesty instead of as rude behavior. Such people are also more willing to curtail their meanness and apparent malice if they can only be informed about the hurt they are causing. On the other hand, people who are intentionally vicious can be difficult to get along with.
What if someone is intentionally nasty with you?
If a reporting manager, colleague, subordinate or a customer is intentionally being rude and mean with you, then you need to figure out ways to resolve this situation. Always remember: a bark and a snarl are just symptoms – the real reason of anger and frustration can remain latent for long with grudge holders. If people start perceiving you as an easy target, you can plummet to the office-punching bag position very fast.
If a customer is rude
In such a situation, you can’t really retaliate or even point out a rude behavior unless there is abusive language being used. The best way to manage nasty customers is by treating them professionally. If you are in a position to solve their problem, then there are high chances that upon resolution of their issues, their nastiness will also evaporate. If you are helpless and only in a ‘listening role’, then it is better to tap into your reserves of patience and lend your listening ear to the customer. However, no job entitles you to verbal and physical abuse. So if you face a dangerously nasty customer, address him about it and bring your boss into the picture.
If a subordinate is nasty
Subordinates may also serve you with a side of viciousness if they feel they are not rightly treated or if they don’t respect you enough. A leader’s true potential is visible based on the respect that he commands from his team. So if you feel the mean quotient increasing among your subordinates, try and introspect on your managing style. You may never know and your own nastiness may have gone around and come around. If such is the case, treat your team with respect to be treated with decency. However, if you are not the one who started it, then it becomes your duty to put the offender in his/her place. Set some ground rules of behavior for your subordinates so they can know when not to cross the line.
If a peer is mean
Your colleagues and peers can also be quite nasty towards you. Sometimes even without any apparent motivation or provocation. These are the people you want to constructively work on and grow with. Thus the ability to get along with nasty peers can make the difference between your long-term professional success and failure. If a nasty colleague is at the same social and professional level as you, the best way to deal with this scenario is ‘confrontation’. By addressing the issue openly and honestly, you will not only be able to understand the reason behind your colleague’s rudeness, you may be able to move past it and establish a great working relationship.
If a superior is vicious
Although it is expected of a manager to be well versed in the edicts of organization behavior, we all have our moment of weaknesses. What’s more, power can corrupt the very nature of some people and turn them into dictatorial monsters. Alas, just as you can’t do anything but endure the rudeness of a customer, your boss’s mean behavior may also be part of your compensation. Try to maintain a professional front, whenever you find yourself in the firing range of a rude superior. Your insistence at professionalism can also encourage your superior to treat you with more respect and decency.
If, however, there is nothing you can do to improve your colleagues’ behavior and if your nasty colleagues have started giving you head splitting nightmares, then working on an exit strategy may be the best solution. It’s not quitting if you get a better deal and land up with a respectful as well as satisfying career!
Visual courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/poenaru/