Rude, Ruder, Rudest…

The other day, I was at the airport early in the morning, dropping my parents. As you may know, the Bangalore airport gets very busy in the early hours and there is a lot of traffic, with people trying to find a spot to stop and drop people off…

As I was waiting, a big, swanky car arrived and a man who seemed like an educated, senior person, stepped out and shouted very rudely at a cab guy parked in front, asking him to move. He was rude and almost derogatory with an attitude aimed to convey that “I drive the big car and you don’t. So move it”.

No guesses there – the cab driver stepped out and retaliated. Soon, it became a ‘rude, ruder, rudest’ contest, slowly becoming personal, regional and almost violent. A couple of people intervened. Thankfully because of the rush, better sense prevailed and things settled down.

It got me thinking a bit…It’s early in the morning and everyone is in a rush. All that the person in the ‘big car’ had to do was politely request the cab in front, to move a bit and there was a fair chance that the cab would have moved. However, it was not to be and what unfolded was a very unpleasant event not just for the two involved, but for the people around as well.

It’s not funny how everything is interconnected and I usually, by default, link daily observations to the way organizations and we, operate. Call it occupational hazard!

Organization situations are no different. How many times do we see leaders in confrontational situations take a high and mighty stance with colleagues – be it high stake discussions or just day to day interactions?

What most of us tend to ignore is that rudeness is contagious in an organization set up…

It spreads like fire and there is a fair chance we counter rudeness with rudeness – if not with our bosses, then with our teams, especially subordinates. There is always a tendency for many of us to start behaving like our bosses, by choice or by unconscious mirroring.

What we also tend to forget is that a rude conversation not just impacts the concerned individuals, but also the immediate eco-system (like all the people who were affected by the conversation in the airport). Besides making one feel bad and hurt, it immediately drops productivity, performance and creates an environment of stress and anxiety.

So, is there a way out?

Like someone once said – Respond, not react. So, next time if we chose to respond instead of reacting, we might just avoid being rude and still get our point across or the help we need.