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Study: Rudeness Is Contagious

It’s certainly annoying to interact with a rude co-worker. But even worse: That person’s behavior can make you ruder, too.

Uncivil behavior is contagious, a new study found. The report, in the Journal of Applied Psychology, claims that your jerky tone of voice or snappy retort can actually negatively impact your fellow desk jockeys long after you leave the office.

Researchers from the University of Florida asked study participants to engage in 11 simulated negotiation exercises with partners over a seven-week period. They found that a subject who perceived rudeness in one interaction was subsequently perceived as rude by his next partner. The effects lasted for up to a week.

Study co-author Trevor Foulk explained on Gizmodo:

What is so scary about this effect is that it’s an automatic process—it takes place in a part of your brain that you are not aware of, can’t stop, and can’t control.

So what if your mean co-workers are rubbing off on you? Previous studiessuggest that witnessing rudeness is correlated with poorer performance on both creative and rote tasks. That means that witnessing—and internalizing—rude behavior could snag workplace productivity, in addition to making the...

Investing in Your Personal ROI Without Being Self-Centered

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a “what’s in it for me” attitude. As long as, I’d argue, that attitude doesn’t end there—in pure selfishness.

When it comes to looking for training for your own personal development, you’ll get more out of the knowledge and self-empowerment you gain through training if you align your personal development goals with the goals of your team and your organization.

So invest in your education, and thereby increase your personal ROI. And, if you lead or manage others, invest in their education, and help to increase their personal ROI, too. While investing, though, just follow through on your responsibility to be a part of something bigger. Ensure that organizational and team goals are being advanced at the same time that you are advancing personal goals.

Often, the upfront investment in individual training (personal ROI) results in employee satisfaction and a willingness to stay on board with the organization. And satisfied and better trained employees contribute to an increase in corporate ROI.

First, Know the Business Needs

ROI = (Gain from Investment – Cost of Investment) / (Cost of Investment)

Measuring the ROI of a learning program can be tricky, as quantifying of...

As Companies Shed Annual Reviews, Should Government Follow Suit?

According to an announcement reported in The Washington Post, Accenture is eliminating annual performance reviews. Earlier Deloitte changed its policy. A few other companies have made a similar decision but the numbers are small. Surveys suggest roughly 5 percent of companies have eliminated performance reviews.

It was reported because these reviews are the most hated HR practice. Managers comply, but many spend as little time as possible on the exercise. Accenture’s goal, however, is to change the way employees receive feedback, not eliminate it.

But government’s situation is different. Currently annual reviews have little value. The ratings are clearly inflated -- no organization has that many high performers or such a small number of poor performers. Ratings do not play a role in salary increases or in promotions. The consistently low (below 40 percent) positive responses on related Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey questions are added evidence that performance management practices are broken. Change is badly needed.

Should Accenture Be the New Model?

The Accenture announcement actually covers two changes, and it sounds like other companies -- Microsoft is one -- have made similar decisions.  

First, Accenture is eliminating forced ranking -- a policy that limits the top ratings to 20 percent and...

What to Do When Your Team Is Struggling

One of the more powerful leadership learning moments in my career occurred when I was part of project team that was struggling to find traction around an important and complicated strategic initiative.

The team was flailing. The first leader, an autocratic, my-way-or-the-highway type, had been replaced with a committee of three senior executives as co-leaders. After all, this was important, and what could possibly go wrong with a group of senior executives leading the charge?

That failed. It turns out putting everyone in charge isn’t a great game-plan.

Following a contentious project review meeting the sponsor suggested a well-regarded mid-level manager as a solution to the project leadership challenge. While some voiced concern over her lack of title and senior-level heft, the sponsor suggested the core team members meet with her one-on-one before making a decision. It would be their choice.

Her reputation was great. She was respected for her ability to work with others and she had helped groups navigate some sticky topics on numerous occasions. After the “interviews,” the core team members agreed unanimously that she was the right person for the role.

The time for her first official meeting with the extended team arrived, and within...

15 Ways Successful People Approach Life Differently

In many ways successful people are just like unsuccessful people. They come from all sorts of backgrounds, all types of demographics, have all levels of education and experience and expertise.

In many ways successful people are the same as everyone else. Yet look closely and you'll see that in certain key ways, they are very, very different.

Here are the qualities that set exceptional people apart:

1. They hate playing politics.

Successful people can't stand playing politics -- and to some degree, people who play politics. They don't care about jockeying for promotions or trying to be "right" in a meeting.

A successful person's primary focus is on solving difficult problems and accomplishing cool things.

2. They love when others win.

Politically motivated people hate when other people earn praise or recognition; they instinctively feel that diminishes the light from their star.

Others aren't competitive, at least not in that way. They want to be recognized, but their accomplishments don't preclude others from doing great things, too. They want everyone else who does something awesome to get recognized, too.

3. They desperately want to see ideas come to fruition.

Maybe they love to dream up...