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Workplace Engagement InsightsLatest Employee Engagement NewsLeadershipWorkplace Rudeness Is Contagious: So Too Is Respectful Leadership

Workplace Rudeness Is Contagious: So Too Is Respectful Leadership

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I have often used the old Greek saying: “The fish stinks from the head down.”

An article published by the University of Florida, “It’s official: Workplace rudeness is contagious” is conclusive proof that behavior in the workplace can spread from person to person.

If we as leaders tolerate other leaders and supervisors who are abusive or demeaning, then we can expect that contagion to poison our workplace. A culture with leaders like this breeds rudeness among employees, as well as fear. Fear and anxiety in the workplace have a huge impact on people’s ability to do their jobs well – just watch my video “Leadership=Engagement=Emotion” for the full picture.

Another way leaders can create a negative atmosphere may surprise you: being a control freak! As a consultant to companies wanting to build a culture of engaging leaders, I often run into issues around delegation and the unintended message it sends to the employees. Control freak leaders send a message to employees that they are not trusted or respected. I encourage you to read this great article in ProfitGuide discussing “The 7 Deadly Sins of Control Freak CEOs”.

The fish stinks from the head down. Workplace culture spreads from employee to employee; poor leadership builds a culture of disengagement in the workplace.

Building a Positive Workplace Culture of Employee Engagement and Respect

The great news is that if we work with our leaders to build a culture of respect, intentional listening, and consultation, we will see that this too is contagious!

Building cultures is a very deliberate exercise. It requires daily awareness of how our actions are impacting others. Only then can we put a curb on some of our natural emotional responses to certain situations.

Something making you angry? Annoyed? Frustrated? Or maybe you feel like you are the only one who cares about your business? Like you can do a better job than your employees so you might as well just do it yourself? Count to ten. Then ask yourself:  “Is this the leader I want my team to experience?”

If the answer is no, then find a better way to respond.

Creating a productive culture of employee engagement and respect starts with you and your management team!


An employee engagement survey will provide insight about your current company culture and actionable steps for improvement. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation.

Start improving employee engagement in just 10 minutes: Download with our FREE cheatsheet!

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Written by Dwight Lacey

Dwight Lacey

Dwight is the President at Workplace Engagement Insights. He leads Workplace Engagement Insights with a clear understanding of the latest employee engagement research, survey best practices, and leadership styles that create successful businesses.

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