I'm loath to admit this, but I fear it's true: Rude people project more authority and tend to get ahead in their careers. According to research by Gerben Van Kleef of the University of Amsterdam published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, rude people aren't constrained by the usual rules and forge their own paths. AOL Jobs reports about the findings:
Powerful people smile less, interrupt others, and speak in a louder voice. Perhaps it's subconscious, or perhaps powerful people know full well that when they don't respect the basic rules of social behavior, they lead others to believe that they have power--that they can afford to be above the rules that others feel obliged to follow.
Not smiling, shouting, and generally being unpleasant and disrespectful--does this ring a bell? How many of you have been around those types at your firm? I know I have.
I remember working for a boss who'd get up abruptly in the middle of a meeting, grab a magazine, and go into his private bathroom--while the rest of us sat awkwardly waiting for the toilet to flush. Or the partner who stared at me in icy silence as I blabbed away trying to explain my research.
So what's the point of behaving rudely? Well, it's a way of asserting control and superiority by treating others as if they don't count. It's a pure power play.
And it seems to work. Van Kleef's research shows that people thought more highly of rude people than the polite ones. Rude people were perceived to be more likely to "get to make decisions," "get people to listen," and "get others to do what he wants."
Can everyone play this game? Of course not. Generally, you can afford to be rude only to those below you in the food chain--it's a way to carve out your turf, instill fear in those who work for you so that they perform at maximum capacity and make you look good.
And another thing: Successful rude people also know when to turn on the charm. They might treat associates, secretaries, and weaker partners like dirt, but when it comes to clients or those more powerful, they are the sweetest, most solicitous people on earth.
What do you think? Do rude people have an edge?
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