Study Reveals 10 Most Terrible Office Behaviors

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A coworker who takes credit for someone else's work or rattles off obnoxious jokes is engaging in one of the top 10 most offensive workplace no-no's, according to survey results released this week.

These and other workplace misdeeds earned spots on a "Terrible Ten" list of rude working-world behaviors. While discrimination topped the list as most offensive, other highly ranked job-related transgressions occur beyond the office entrance, such as crazy driving.

"The research suggests that people are bothered more by the transgressions of coworkers and strangers than by those of family and friends," said study team member P.M. Forni, director of the Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins University, which began in 1997 to evaluate the significance of manners and civility in contemporary society.

Out of 30 examples of rude behavior, survey respondents most often indicated the following 10 as most offensive in this order:

1. Discrimination in an employment situation

2. For commuters, erratic/aggressive driving that endangers others

3. Taking credit for someone else’s work

4. Treating service providers as inferiors

5. Jokes or remarks that mock another, including remarks about race, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation and religion

6. Children who behave aggressively or who bully others

7. Littering or spitting

8. Misuse of handicapped privileges

9. Smoking in non-smoking places or smoking in front of non-smokers without asking

10. Using cell phones or text messaging in mid-conversation or during an appointment or meeting

For this survey, Forni and his colleagues polled 615 employees of two Baltimore-based companies, along with employees and students at the University of Baltimore, in May 2007. The participants rated 30 examples of rude behavior from 1 (not offensive) to 5 (most offensive).

The top-10 list will be published in Forni's upcoming book, "The Civility Solution: What to do When People Are Rude," due out next spring.

Jeanna Bryner
Live Science Editor-in-Chief

Jeanna served as editor-in-chief of Live Science. Previously, she was an assistant editor at Scholastic's Science World magazine. Jeanna has an English degree from Salisbury University, a master's degree in biogeochemistry and environmental sciences from the University of Maryland, and a graduate science journalism degree from New York University. She has worked as a biologist in Florida, where she monitored wetlands and did field surveys for endangered species. She also received an ocean sciences journalism fellowship from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.