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Crude, boorish behavior at 'crisis' levels, poll suggests

Posted On Fri, August 2, 2013

Whether its acting out irrationally, or simply behaving boorishly in public, most people think that society lacks the sense of decorum and comportment that it once had, according to newly released polling data.

The analysis, which was part of the report "Civility in America: A Nationwide Survey," public relations firm Weber Shandwick and marketing company Powell Tate indicated that nearly three-fourths of respondents believe that uncivilized behavior is on the rise in America - and has already hit crisis levels. In fact, among the 1,000 adults who responded to the poll, more than 40 percent said that they anticipate coming into contact with at least one person who's rude or impolite within a 24-hour period.

Pam Jenkins, president of Powell Tate, indicated that this type of conduct is becoming standard operating procedure.

"Incivility is turning into a national epidemic and becoming the new normal in behavior," said Jenkins. "With seven in 10 citizens saying that incivility has reached crisis proportions, we need new solutions and greater leadership to reduce this discord in our daily lives."

Due to the variety of means with which people communicate, respondents also stated that they encounter incivility in multiple formats. For example, more than 70 percent said that they thought the internet - specifically social media websites like Facebook and Twitter - encouraged disrespect and ungraciousness. And among parents, roughly one in four said that their child has been victimized by cyber bullying, up from 17 percent when a similar poll was conducted in 2012.

"From the start, uncivil discourse has been an element of web-based culture and online discussions," said Chris Perry, global president of digital at Weber Shandwick. "As social media becomes mainstream, it's not surprising to see the numbers on the rise."

Ill-mannered behavior often observed at work
The report also revealed that incivility is more common at the office. More than one-third - 37 percent - of those surveyed said that they've witnessed derogatory or offensive behavior at the workplace.

Even on the way to work, crude behavior presents itself. According to a separate analysis performed by Harris Interactive on behalf of the employment and job search engine CareerBuilder, approximately one-third of respondents whose commute was less than five minutes said that they experienced road rage on occasion. However, for those whose commutes were longer than 10 minutes, nearly 55 percent said that they witnessed or experienced it from time to time.

"Road rage is most often associated with running late and far commutes," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "Planning ahead and taking advantage of flexible work arrangements can help alleviate stress levels and set a more positive vibe for the workday."

By not controlling or properly managing stress, accidents may be more likely to happen. This can ultimately impact one's auto insurance rates after filing a claim.

How to manage negative feelings
To help people calm down after witnessing or experiencing road rage - which is often associated with uncivilized behavior - Haefner offered some recommendations.

For instance, because being late can often trigger feelings of anger or frustration, try to get ready for work earlier or do things that will expedite one's morning routine. For instance, prior to going to bed for the night, plan out what will be worn for the following day, making sure to lay it out before falling asleep.

Something else that often helps is being more "present." Instead of worrying about the past or the future, listen or do something that will take one's mind off of the stressor, such as by listening to peaceful music or an audio book.

Feedback or questions? Email the editor here.

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