Human Resources News & Insights

You know you’re rude when …

Some say the workplace these days suffers from a lack of civility — but of course not by you. Still, you may want to take this workplace-rudeness test (or give it to someone you know).

According to, you know you’re rude when …

  • You have a habit of  interrupting others. That suggests — dare we say “screams” —  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.”
  • You don’t say “please” and “thank you.” In a 2002 Public Agenda survey, 48% of workers said that only “sometimes” they encountered others who made an effort to say “please” and “thank you,”  and another 16% 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.
  • You don’t clean up after yourself. Lack of housekeeping manners, especially in a workplace communal kitchen, marks someone as a slob, as well as a rudenik. If you’ve worked out a deal where your mom is going to come in and clean up after you, then it’s OK. Otherwise, it’s rude.
  • Your language is f***ing filthy. Granted, what’s profane to one person is perfectly acceptable to another, but foul language is rude. It says, “I’m going to talk the way I want and f*** you!” When in doubt about what’s over the line, stay well away from the line.
  • You’re LOUD! In the world of cubicles, a loud conversation or one on a speakerphone quickly 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 away loudly. Rather than force your call on the whole department, invest in a headset or just hold the receiver in your hand. Or just talk softly.
  • You treat everyone like a stranger. You’re walking down the hall and a co-worker is walking toward you. Now, a bear hug or a kiss is probably asking too much (especially if the other person is the CEO). Still, it doesn’t kill anyone to smile and nod to let others know they exist in your world. Too busy for a quick “hi”? No, you’re not.
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  • Angel M

    I conside rude my co workers who do not say good morning, hi or even acknowledge me.
    Didn’t your mommy teach you good manners?

  • Judy Buckley

    The second one got my attention – not so much at work as in business transactions in general. When a customer completes a transaction at a store, the clerk should say, “Thank you” and the customer can also reply, “Thank you.” If a clerk or waitperson does something for a customer, I, at least, as the customer, will say, “Thank you” and the clerk or waitperson frequently replies, “No problem” – to me a little odd – instead of, “You’re welcome.” But, I’m not complaining about that response – at least it acknowledges the customer’s thanks. There is a whole other side discussion about customer service in general and workers’ willingness to be helpful, but let’s not go there! The other item above, of course, is the third one. I’ve seen this leaving a mess for others to take care of everywhere I’ve worked. It does seem as if some folks have never been held accountable for this and have the expectation that “their Mom” or someone else will pick up after them. Again, I say refer to the little book, “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” for the list of life’s rules, which includes items like if you spill it, clean it up; if you borrow it, return it, etc. Just another version of the Golden Rule.

  • MAC

    At our work we share offices. One particular employee is not only notorious for interrupting, but also for butting into other employees’ conversations or business! As the 90’s sitcom said, “HOW RUDE!” Just because you share an office doesn’t mean you have ANY right butting in or looking over the other person’s shoulder!

  • M

    I find that employees who do not greet co-workers with a good morning, a nod or a smile are usually the gossipers, and those quick to criticize and are never pleased with the company no matter how hard it tries to show appreciation for all staff…and believe me my company goes out of its way to show staff appreciation. These people are just rude individuals and when I pass them in the hallways I force a nod or smile so as not to lower myself to their level.

  • H

    Angel M and M find it rude when people don’t say good morning. I’ll be honest with you, often I don’t say good morning. I’m not a morning person and can’t fathom being “perky” first thing in the morning. My staff knows me enough to know that it is best to wait till I get my coat off and have a minute to group my self together and get the positive attitude button turned on. Then I’m good to go… keep this in mind, not everyone is happy go lucky first thing in the morning! And I think M is making a rather large assumption that those that don’t say good morming, nod or smile are the gossipers. Instead of passing judgement so quickly why not learn to accept people for what they are – perhaps shy or preoccupied or “not a morning person”. If you are being nice and saying hi only to expect something back then you are doing it for the wrong reason!

  • M

    Nobody is talking about being perky!!! I am talking about a simple “hi” or a slight nod or smile…without uttering a word until you get yourself together???!! The excuse that you are “not a morning person ” doesn’t fly. Decent, respectful people greet each other in the morning…..and that’s all I am going to say on the matter.

  • Gail Colt

    H – it doesn’t take a lot of effort to say hello or good morning to your staff when you come in each morning. You don’t have to be “perky” to acknowledge them with a simple nod or a good morning comment. It is just good manners and I say you need to get up earlier so by the time you get to work your have already “grouped yourself together” and your positive attitude button is turned on before you enter the office. I bet you wouldn’t let your staff do that regardless if they were shy or preoccupied. Remember “treat others as you would like to be treated”. I’m not a morning person either but by the time I get to work I try hard to leave the baggage at the door and enter with a smile on my face and my voice!

  • HR Mgr

    M…I agree with H when he/she said……”you made a rather large assumption that those that don’t say good morning, nod or smile are the gossipers. Instead of passing judgment so quickly why not learn to accept people for what they are – perhaps shy or preoccupied or “not a morning person”. If you are being nice and saying hi only to expect something back then you are doing it for the wrong reason!”

    And M, you passed judgment again….this time on H by saying “Decent, respectful people greet each other in the morning…..and that’s all I am going to say on the matter.”…..So what you are saying is that H is neither decent nor respectful? How would you know, you don’t even know the person.

    Gail, your comment of “Remember “treat others as you would like to be treated.”” Why not treat others as they want to be treated? I may not want to be treated in the same matter as others treat you. I don’t know you, your likes and dislikes. What is acceptable to you may not be acceptable to me, and vice versa.

    I don’t take it personal if someone doesn’t say good morning to me, or acknowledges me. DON’T TAKE IT PERSONAL! But keep in mind everyone, that a warm smile and cheerful good morning can, remember the word is “can”, be contagious.

  • I usually don’t comment on these, but I just can’t help myself. The H.R. manager where I work very rarely says good morning, hi… anything. Usually the manager doesn’t say anything to me for the first two or three hours of the day – and I am an H.R. assistant.

  • Lisa Gaff

    The biggest for me is when you go to someone’s office for a meeting and they watch their computer or blackberry for e-mails. To me this indicates that my conversation is not important.

  • Z

    Wow….for the HR person to not feel that they play an important role in contributing to the environment of the workplace and especially the importance of employee morale by not acknowledging their own HR assistant is bad. I wonder what the atmosphere is like in Beth’s company. Hopefully the other employees don’t take their cue from the HR manager or else it seems like it would be a dismal place to work.

    Lisa… company has given entire staff coaching, with particular emphasis on training for the management team, on how to be an “active listener”. (It definitely does not include having one on on your email or blackberry and the other eye on the peson who is talking) It takes training, but it pays off in the end because it winds up with employees who feel like they are important and most of all being heard. This is a definite morale booster! Albeit some people go on and on and on, but there are appropriate ways for the “listener” to start steer the conversation to an end without glancing at their emails or blackberry.

  • Been there

    I am definitely not a morning person but I will say hi or good morning. I do not like to converse first thing in the morning so that is the time I spend checking voice mail and e-mail. I spend that time while checking this, getting prepared for the day and what it is going to bring. There is no talking involved and it gives me time to get geared up for the day. I get up plenty early for work. I am probably up for at least an hour or more before I head in to the office. My drive is 10 minutes. I just don’t like to talk right away or get into deep conversations. I like to ease into work. I am sure I am not the only person like this either. People are who they are and it shouldn’t be so bothersome or taken so personally. Come on, life is too short to worry about whether someone said good morning or hi.

  • HR Here

    Being courteous has absolutely nothing to do with being a ‘morning person’. It has everything to do with how you view yourself, the world, and the people around you. Negative people are much less likely to be courteous.

  • MP

    I walked into my office this morning, and I thought what a gloomy, depressing, unpleasant place this would be if co-workers didn’t greet each other. Those who don’t are just plain rude. Hope all of those who proclaim not to be morning people take heed from all of these replies and try and force a nod, smile or hi to their fellow co-workers. This small act of respect can help make the world a better place.

  • I have to admit, receiving a simple Hello or Good Morning from my co-workers or managers sets the tone and the atmosphere in the office.

  • Kirk

    Frankly I find the good morning exchanges rather irritating. I get to work an hour to an hour and a half before the rest of the staff does and I am “interrupted” by several good morning greeters every day. I realize any lack of response on my part will be considered rude, so I stop what I’m doing and return the greeting no matter what I’m in the middle of doing because it seems important to them. Would I be offended if the greetings stopped? No way.

  • Z

    Of course if somebody seems to be busy or focusing on work, then that it a different story. What is being discussed in these emails and as indicated in the last Bullet above in the Career information about “treating everyone like a stranger”, concerns people passing co-workers in the hallway upon entering their place of employment and just walking by them and ignoring them. So in Kirk’s case, it seems like the greeters might be the ones being rude by not respecting the fact that Kirk seems to be engrossed in work, unless he is such a nice guy that everyone is so glad to see him in the morning that they can’t help but say Good Morning.

  • D

    Unlike Kirk, if I am the first one to the office, I like it when my coworkers say hello even if it interupts me a little. If I think I am alone on my floor and start hearing noises a couple cubes away, I want to know it is a coworker, not a stranger. Maybe it is being female and being taught to be safe so as not to become a victim…

  • MS

    This is a rather silly debate. I think it’s nice for people to greet one another, but as it has been mentioned above, if there is no greeting it shouldn’t be taken personally. It’s not a matter of “right and wrong”, it’s a matter of personal preference. Being courteous to one another doesn’t mean you have to greet everyone first thing in the morning. And for some people, not being a morning person really does affect how courteous they can be before they’ve settled in for the day. So if the greeting is forced, it will come across that way. And a greeting that is not genuine is sometimes worse than no greeting at all.

  • HR Here

    I am curious as to what skewed definition of courteous MS is using to say this, “Being courteous to one another doesn’t mean you have to greet everyone first thing in the morning.” Should we take this to mean being courteous includes completely ignoring our co-workers upon seeing them for the first time in the mornings? Do people who are not morning people ignore their family members at home until they ‘feel like’ greeting them?

    I was raised by educated parents who taught me at an early age to say ”good morning’ when you first see someone – very much the same way you say please and thank you and hello and goodbye as opposed to omitting those words altogether because I just don’t ‘feel like saying them’.

    Hiding behind a shield of what ‘area of the day’ person you are is asinine and nothing more than an excuse to be rude.

  • Kathy

    Nobody needs an announcement that you made it to the office. Quietly say “hello” to anyone who looks up at you, ignore those who are focused on their work. Frankly, I feel like I never leave this place, so what’s the big deal?

  • jh

    Compassion for, and patience with, those who are different from us is a good thing.

  • Essie

    Regarding CLEANING UP AFTER YOURSELVES – I have a semi-private office that the employees use like a break room after I leave. When I come to work in the morning, I have found wet shoes in the middle of the floor, half-full drink cups, dirty plates with food on them, my phone pulled half way across my desk, food debris & cigarette butts in my trashcan, and office supplies missing. One time they took the entire roll of tape out of the dispenser INSIDE my desk, but left the dispenser! I can’t lock the office either because the staff needs acces to storage items in my closet.

  • Essie

    If you can’t ask your staff to do so, PLEASE read this book “Raving Fans – A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service” by Ken Blanchard & Sheldon Bowles. Following just some of the recommendations in this book would revolutionize customer service as we know it. Or unfortunately the lack thereof.

  • Essie

    If you can’t ask your staff to do so, PLEASE read this book “Raving Fans – A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service” by Ken Blanchard & Sheldon Bowles. Following just some of the recommendations in this book would revolutionize customer service as we know it. Or unfortunately the lack of customer service.

  • Jill

    I am the HR person, and also a morning person. I realize that everyone is not like me. If I wake up and feel good, it’s going to be a great day! I have a great relationship (in my opinion) with all of my employees, except one.
    This gal never smiles. When we meet in the hall, she looks at the ground, and it’s not because she’s shy. If she needs something from me, or has an HR question, she is all smiles and really sweet. If I arrive in the parking lot the same time as this gal, I swear she sits in her car and waits for me to go in. If she doesn’t see me until she gets to the main employee entrance, she will walk way out of her way to go in a different door so she doesn’t have to speak to me. And you could say that maybe this is all in my imagination, but I’ve heard the same story from many of her co-workers. I just don’t get it. I listen to how she treats her customers at her desk, and she does a wonderful job. It’s like she is 2 different people, depending on the situation. The funny thing is, her daughter came in a while ago and when I looked at her to say hi, she put her head down and stared at the floor! Guess the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Has anyone else ever experienced this kind of behavior? I embrace everyone’s differences. How boring would it be if we were all the same. I guess I just wonder if maybe she needs some professional help. Of course that’s her call. I think it’s sad.

    • Leroy Magee

      Jill, this sounds like me (somewhat). To that end, she may be an introvert.

      While I make every effort to be courteous and NOT rude, I will make every effort to avoid social interaction. Such interaction is emotionally draining for me and I suspect it could be the same for her. $.02

  • MJ

    I had an employee like that. Ignored me completely unless she wanted something. She had a small click with whom she associated. The company was very good to this employee when she had a long-term illness and lost months of work. There were fundraisers, bake sales, raffles, etc. She never even said thank you to us when she returned. So I was wary of her, but we had no grounds to terminate her…..I just had a gut feeling, based mainly on her rude behavior. Well, we found out she was doing something very illegal in the company and she was terminated immediately. I say….beware of people with anti-social or rude behavior.

  • fayzie

    Each of us represent more than just ourselves as we interact with individuals – whether it is colleagues or customers. We reflect the company or organization we work for.
    Employees of many health-care industries have implemented programs to teach employees what most or some of us learned from parents – “good manners”. The training is very explicit as to what is expected daily – early morning included. Speaking and acknowledging another person’s presence is an expectation. It is hard to imagine a work environment where everyone’s early morning mood sets the tone. Overlooking one’s habit of not speaking because they are not a “morning person” doesn’t help change the rude behavior. I believe that “courtesy is contagious” and the smile and greeting may be the first friendly gesture another person has experienced that day. Keep on smiling and speaking.

  • Essie

    I was brought up to say please & thank you when provided with any type of service. A glass of water, a door held open, change from my purchase. I even thanked a policeman once after getting a ticket. Duh. I didn’t do that with the next ticket.

  • Essie

    FAYZIE: Excellent paragraph — thank you!

  • HRSeattle

    It is very disconcerting when you’ve worked for an organization 10-14 years and key people who know you by name come face to face and not so much as give a nod, smile, or greeting. It’s demoralizing and just plain ill-mannered.

  • Greeting – Manager or Team Member

    I need assistance. I have a manager that will not leave her office (unless I’ve done something wrong). She requires that I come and say “Hello” in the morning. I have done it in the past, but lately because of lack of support and micro-managing I find myself pulling away. I know it’s rude, but shouldn’t the manager come out of her office and talk / greet the team members on occasions? I do say “Hello” to my team members when they walk by or I pass them in the hall, just as I do when I see the manager. I’ve tried to make myself walk to my manager’s office and say “Hello” but I’m finding it harder and harder when I’m getting limited support. I need assistance. I wasn’t raised to be this way. (PS-Please don’t tell me to grow up because I am beating myself up over this issue. I need guidance on what to do. Thank you!)

  • Highlander

    I don’t expect anyone to go out of their way to INITIATE a greeting with me, but if I pass you in the hall and I say good morning or hi, and you look me in the eye but otherwise ignore me, that is really rude, especially if you do it routinely. Soon, the polite people stop bothtering with it and it fosters a culture of not speaking to one another – what a lousy place to work! HR, of all people, should know better. And not being a morning person is no excuse for rudeness. What if I’m not an “afternoon person” and I snub you in the afternoons, is that OK? Ridiculous.