Rudeness in the workplace causes staff to make mistakes

Rudeness in the workplace causes staff to make more mistakes, even if they are not on the receiving end of the aggression, a psychologist has warned.

Heated discussions with colleagues, arguments and rudeness cause people to lose concentration, according to Rhona Flin, a professor at Aberdeen University.

She stressed the problem was widespread, and surveys had shown one in 10 workers witness rudeness on a daily basis, the Daily Telegraph has reported.

The issue is of particular concern in healthcare settings, and disagreements between clinical staff are not uncommon, she added.

Two-thirds of NHS operating staff said over the past six months they had been on the receiving end of aggression from nurses and half said it had come from surgeons.

Flin said studies had shown being the victim of rudeness can impair cognitive skills, with students who were insulted by a professor performing worse on subsequent memory tasks. While other experiments had shown even witnessing rudeness to other people affects performance, she said.

“If incivility does occur in operating theatres and affects workers’ ability to perform tasks, the risks for surgical patients – whose treatment depends on particularly high levels of mental concentration and flawless task execution – could increase,” said Flin.

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