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Jerks don't score points at work

| Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Are we getting ruder at work?

According to a recent survey, half of workers reported in 2011 that they were treated rudely at least once a week, an increase from the one- quarter reporting boorish behavior in 1998.

Richie Frieman, known as the Modern Manners Guy on QuickAndDirtyTips.com, says that yes, indeed, people are rude in the workplace.

They leave dirty dishes lying around. They fire off snarky emails, and they show up late on a regular basis. They dress and act like they're in a locker room and have no qualms about bugging busy co-workers.

Despite such mannerless behavior, Frieman has hope.

“I think good manners are coming back,” he says. “I think it's hip and cool to be mannerly.”

Let's hope so. Not only does working with a boor add a level of stress to every workday, but it has a bottom-line effect.

Specifically, a survey of rude behavior by Christine Porath and Christine Pearson finds that workplace incivility leads to less creativity, greater turnover, less high-quality work and poorer customer relationships.

And it drives people nuts, Frieman says.

That's why he has written a book called “Reply All ... and Other Ways to Tank Your Career,” that outlines some of the worst behavior and why it matters. The bottom line is that rude behavior can hurt your chances of getting ahead in the workplace because people simply don't want to work with or be around people seen as slobs, louts and fools.

“Manners mean that basically you don't act like a jerk,” he says. “You drop your ego at the door.”

While most of us know not to belch the alphabet in the office or stick our stinky feet on the conference table, Frieman offers some advice on other workplace situations:

• Clean up after yourself: Too many people act as if “their mom is going to go right behind them and clean up,” as they leave empty food containers and dirty dishes in their cubicles or other work areas, he says.

While everyone snacks in the office, Frieman says no one wants to be near someone who has food and other gunk stuck between the computer keys and trash piled on a desktop or nearby chair.

• Don't be overbearing about charity contributions: In some companies, managers set a policy of forbidding any solicitations for good causes, whether it's your daughter's soccer team or feeding kids in Africa.

This policy often has been established because of complaints from workers that they're being hit up nearly every day to contribute to a good cause, and it contributes to uncomfortable situations among colleagues. If your boss allows such collections to continue, don't take the passive-aggressive approach of sending “friendly reminders” to colleagues who haven't ponied up or walk around soliciting donations.

“You can just send an email explaining what you're collecting for, and tell them to let you know if they want to contribute,” he says.

Write Anita Bruzzese in care of USA TODAY/Gannett, 7950 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, Va. 22108. For a reply, include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Twitter: @AnitaBruzzese.

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