Personal Blind Spot: Are You Being Passively Rude?


In recent weeks, I’ve discussed simple ways to increase civility at work, as well as how easy it is for rudeness to spread like a virus.  But, this week I want to look at something that’s always intrigued me:  People who act rudely and they don’t even know it.  I call this passive rudeness.

One way they might do this is by being oblivious to how their actions are inconveniencing others.

For example, have you ever seen that person talking loudly on their cell phone, oblivious to how annoying they are being to those nearby?  I think they’re so engrossed in their own worlds that they don’t realize they are being rude.  Another example is those people who arrive late to a meeting or presentation and then let the door slam behind them.  Do they do that on purpose? I think not.  I think they’re inside their own heads, oblivious, and unaware of their bad behavior.

I think these folks lack self-awareness, and that makes it easier for them to ignore other people and their surroundings.

Another way people act rudely without even know it is by being chronic non-responders.

Let me explain by giving an example.  Do you know some individuals that simply don’t reply to emails, ignore invitations and are generally non-responsive? I don’t think they are aware that they are causing inconvenience for others.  I don’t think they decide to do nothing out of spite or rudeness.  I think they’re often procrastinators, or don’t want to make decisions, or want to leave their options open.   They don’t realize that non-responsiveness equals rudeness.

Do you know someone who is rude and doesn’t know it?  How about you?  Is it possible that you might be guilty of being oblivious to others? Or being a non-responder?

I confess to being guilty of some of these.  And none of us should feel immune because –depending on circumstances- we have blind spots and are all capable of “passive rudeness”. So once in a while, just for exercise, ask yourself, how are my actions (or lack-of-actions) affecting those around me?


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