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Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
901 South Bond Street, Suite 540
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
Phone: 443-287-9960 | Fax: 443-287-9920

October 4, 2007
CONTACT: Amy Lunday

Workplace Misdeeds Top "Terrible Ten"
Rude Behaviors List

Popular primetime TV shows like "The Office" or "30 Rock" find humor in the rudeness and sarcasm of fictional employees, but in the real world, workplace boorishness is no laughing matter: Several forms of 9-to-5 incivility earned spots on the "Terrible Ten" list of rude behaviors, based on a new survey of 615 workers and others in Baltimore.

Discrimination at work tops the list of offenses, according to the survey by the Civility Initiative at The Johns Hopkins University and the Jacob France Institute of the University of Baltimore. Erratic or aggressive driving that endangers others — behavior typical of rush-hour commutes — and taking credit for someone else's work round out the top three. Other working- world offenses on the list include treating service providers as inferiors and using cell phones during meetings to make calls or send text messages.

"The research suggests that people are bothered more by the transgressions of coworkers and strangers than by those of family and friends," said P.M. Forni, director of the Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins, who conducted the research with David Stevens, Treva Stack and Stacey Lee of the University of Baltimore. This is interesting in itself, Forni said, but the next necessary step for the research team will be to find out why. "Maybe we are less rude towards family, or maybe we are more inclined to tolerate rude behavior when it comes from family," Forni said.

The complete list of "Terrible Ten" behaviors:

1. Discrimination in an employment situation.
2. 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's race/gender/age/disability/sexual preference or religion.
6. Children who behave aggressively or who bully others.
7. Littering (including trash, spitting, pet waste).
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.

Categories of "rude" or "uncivil" behavior were derived from an informal survey, conducted online through Yahoo.com and Survey Monkey during a two-week period in May 2007. The survey polled employees of the Baltimore-based companies Lifebridge Health and E A Engineering Science and Technology, as well as employees and students at the University of Baltimore. Thirty examples of rude behavior were posed to respondents, each linked to a five point Likert scale ranging from 1 (not offensive) to 5 (most offensive). Respondents were asked to indicate the degree to which they personally considered each behavior offensive.

As you might expect, Professor Forni is charming and wonderful to talk with, and he can address a broad range of issues connected to civility for any story on the subject. Reporters who wish to speak with P.M. Forni or to request a review copy of his book, Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct, should contact Amy Lunday at 443-287-9960 or acl@jhu.edu. Forni's Web site is www.jhu.edu/civility/.