How Treating Your Coworkers Poorly Can Affect Your Children

How Treating Your Coworkers Poorly Can Affect Your Children

A new study suggests missteps at work can have real consequences at home.

It’s easy to send off a passive aggressive email when a coworker misses a deadline or make an off-handed remark when another colleague is late for an important meeting. But beyond graciousness, there’s a reason to think before you speak or act: When people are rude to their coworkers or treat them badly, it often has consequences for the victim’s children.

New research presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association suggests women who experience incivility in the workplace are more likely to engage in stricter, more authoritarian parenting practices that can have a negative impact on their children.

What’s considered workplace incivility? Workplace incivility is considered any behavior that is rude, disrespectful, impolite, or otherwise shows a lack of concern for others. Some examples of workplace incivility include ignoring or making derogatory remarks about someone, taking credit for the work of others, passing blame for your own mistakes, avoiding someone, or shutting people out of a network or team.

To better understand the effects of workplace incivility on children, the researchers conducted an online survey of 146 working mothers and their spouses. Mothers were asked about their experience with incivility in the workplace as well as their feelings of effectiveness as a parent. Their spouses were also asked to report on the mothers’ negative parenting behaviors.

The data showed a significant association between experiencing rude behavior at work and authoritarian parenting by working mothers at home. Survey results also showed that incivility in the workplace was associated with mothers feeling less effective as parents.

“This style of parenting has been associated with a variety of negative child outcomes, including associating obedience and success with love, exhibiting aggressive behavior outside the home, being fearful or overly shy around others, having difficulty in social situations due to a lack of social competence, suffering from depression and anxiety, and struggling with self-control,” said researcher Angela Dionisi, PhD, of Carleton University.

According to researchers, workplace incivility has also been linked to lower levels of effort and performance on the job, higher levels of stress, plus impaired attention, information processing, and decision-making.