A safe haven from rudeness, rage and stress


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Anger, Incivility, Bad Manners, Rudeness and Rage Making News

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The media is watching our bad behavior and it's not a pretty picture:

Let’s face it: the Golden Rule is tarnished... 

Common courtesy doesn’t exist anymore. Civility, manners, and politeness are nostalgic memories. We’re more mean-spirited than ever.

At concerts, in the air, in supermarkets, in business dealings, at sporting events, everywhere, people are selfish, angry, rude and crude (doctors are even being cited for rudeness in malpractice suits).  The media has been taking notice of our bad manners and bad attitudes and some of their observations, insights and suggestions are politely offered here for you to access:

"We're Ruder Than Ever, Poll Finds... 'It's about the daily assault of selfish, inconsiderate behavior that gets under people's skin on the highways, in the office, on TV, in stores and the myriad other settings where they encounter fellow Americans.'"

The Arizona Daily Star's headline of March 19, 2001, confirms it:  "Stressed-out American society gives birth to rage of all kinds."  Researchers and other experts find we're "an enraged society," they define "toxic" rage, and point out that "Irrational behavior by kids at school, by sports stars, by mom and dad, by people at work, has become the norm. Basically, we've created a breeding ground for violence."

If you've ever suspected that the multitude of "gross-out" movies and technological empowerment can turn us into rude, self-centered, mannerless creatures, this masterful and thought-provoking article by writer George Will will send chills up your spine!

We’re alarmed and concerned -- a meanness epidemic pervades everything we do and the signs point to America "sliding down a slippery slope toward a cesspool of misbehavior." This excellent feature, "Rude Rage," discusses our incivility and offers some good advice. 

Anger kills...the way we react to other people and the minor and major irritants of daily living can influence our risk of dying from cancer and heart disease.  Also, a person who is high on the hostility scale will be more likely to be high on the the depression scale.

An ABCNEWS/World News Tonight Poll confirms that most of us (85%) feel that a simple “thank you” and “please” would make the world a better place. And more than 8 out of 10 Americans “say the failure of parents to instruct their children in good behavior is a ‘major cause’ of bad manners” -- adults with kids are “as likely as those without to say that bad parenting is a major cause of bad manners."

Experts agree that there's a general breakdown of civility. When you're surrounded by media with attitude, ill-mannered sports stars, national icons like Beavis & Butthead, and the rest of us snarling at each other everywhere, the result is pervasive rudeness, observes the editor of the Saratoga News.

The evidence is in: most of us work in a "toxic" environment. Workplace incivility is rampant -- rude, petty, mean, bullying, back-stabbing, and disrespectful co-workers and bosses are responsible for job stress, low morale, and more. Here's The Washington Post’s take on this troubling trend. 

Did you know that rude people at work are three times more likely to be in higher positions than their targets? And that almost one in four of us experience chronic anger in the workplace?
Desk rage, unrest on the job, nasty co-workers, downsizing, cramped quarters, mushrooming population, technology, business casual dress codes -- all contribute to people feeling pushed over the edge and hurling abuse at co-workers. Fewer people doing more work crowded into smaller spaces is taking its toll. A new study finds that over 40% of us said yelling and verbal abuse takes place at work.
Workplace rudeness affects your work, your enthusiasm, and your loyalty and relationships. Sandra Ford Walston offers some thoughts on rudeness in the workplace and some tips for surviving offensive co-workers.

Survivors of workplace massacres are often shocked and describe the assailants as "nice" people.  CBS News suggests early intervention and eight high-risk behaviors to look out for.

What are the costs of rudeness to business? Here are the results of a survey conducted by ETICON, Inc., which include revealing quotes from some of the respondents!

The Chronicle of Higher Education addresses classroom rudeness -- insubordination and intimidation. A professor asks the class to solve an equation and a student shouts, “Who gives a s---?” A teacher refuses to change a grade and a student screams, “You godamned bitch..” Courses are hijacked by classroom terrorists who are simply not civilized.

Schools are awash in bad behavior.” In a Washington suburb elementary school, an 8-year-old threatened to burn down the building, a fifth-grader told his teacher to shut up, and a first-grader exposed himself. Worst of all, “arrests later in life can be predicted by a child’s elementary school infractions.”

Four girls aged 11 to 13 allegedly tried to kill their teacher by pouring drain cleaner into her water bottle -- because as one girl put it, the teacher was picking on her. Where are the parents of these teenage would-be killers? Experts probe for answers here. 

Is there such a thing as childhood innocence?  The Parents Television Council sees a lot more foul language and violence aimed at kids during the so-called family hour than most parents realize. Coarse language is up 78% since 1999 -- some 10 million kids on average watch TV from 8 - 9 PM.

American kids are scared, real scared. The Sesame Workshop studied youngsters ages 6 to 11 and two out of three had a "surprising fear of violence." They vividly depicted worries about guns, death, and violence. Among kids aged 9 to 11, 3 out of 4 share the same fears.

Parents are at the forefront of helping to nurture a spirit of kindness and in this “mom to mom strategy” feature, “Teaching Kindness in Schools” looks at how school administrators and teachers can also instill a kind atmosphere in the classroom.

“We must move toward or return to a more civil society…Respect not rudeness is key to violence reduction,” says the American Bar Association. In fact, “the average child entering 5th grade has seen hundreds of thousands of acts of violence on television...and many psychologists believe the overexposure to violence has a numbing effect, a desensitizing of youth.”

Cuss is a four-letter word. These days, swearing in public is pervasive and foul language has become a habit for many -- with role models like sports stars, rock stars, celebrities, and cartoon characters leading the cultural decline. But some are swearing off swearing according to

Frustration, anger and rage are appearing at restaurants, too.  We're going over the top, flying off the handle over minor irritations, and going ballistic over the beef stew at the drop of a hat. Why is that?

How widespread is incivility?  It's "pervasive" and "a major issue in our society" according to the Florida Philosophical Review's journal article of Summer 200, "Incivility as a Barometer of Societal Decay," which says incivility "appears to be extensive...Rudeness is becoming more widespread in business and industry." 

Yes, adult rudeness trickles down to the young. Here’s one mother who wants to teach her child manners, and considers herself “responsible for shaping the character of a child into a young person who (I hope) will never imitate the rudeness she is hearing all around her.”

Cell phone users who don't know when to shut up, and whose loud public conversations create a hostile climate branding them "21st century pariahs" are depicted on a Los Angeles wall in a stenciled image of skulls holding wireless phones.

It had to happen -- the technology that enables the boorish and rude to punish the rest of us in restaurants, doctors’ offices, theaters, buses, elevators, and even public toilets is provoking cell phone rage nationwide. 

In Hush-Hush Hooray, Actor Laurence Fishburne is a hero for quieting a cell-toting miscreant during a Broadway play.  Likewise, Kevin Spacey tells a cellphone user in the audience to "Tell them you're busy."  No surprise according to Wired News that a NYC councilman favors restricting cell phones in public places.

“Bare your soul in private. TURN OFF THAT CELL PHONE!” Commonweal’s Sidney Callahan says that second-hand intimacy, your “involuntary immersion in other people’s intimate lives, audibly broadcast in trains, buses, planes, elevators, or on the street, is a subtle form of battery. And “if there are laws against boom boxes, car alarms and leaf blowers, why not against cell phones?” Agreed.

A recent Reuters story about cell phone use and knowing "when to shut up" talks about national and regional trains limiting or banning annoying beeping and loud conversations in public by rude and annoying cell phone bullies.

The Bermuda Sun reviews the problem and asks questions about private space. A cell phone user arguing loudly with a spouse across from you on a train considers you the intruder. Whaaat? A Zagat's online Diners' Bill of Rights survey shows 95% want a separate smoking and cell phone area -- over 9 out of 10!

Electronic rudeness is rampant, and it’s not just cell phone abusers taking calls in a church during a sermon! It’s also pagers, video-conferencing cameras, hand-held computers, e-mail, and more. With rude behavior so prevalent, Gannett News Service asked 7 etiquette experts to compile a guide to high-tech manners.

Anyone’s who’s taken a flight lately can relate to the bad behavior of fellow passengers, unruly brats that parents don’t control, arm wrestling for the armrest, etc. – you’ll hardly believe these true stories. 

A writer for the Los Angeles Business Journal examines the rudeness of air passengers and airline personnel toward each other – uncivil behavior that’s at an all time high. He says, “The environment at airports is more hellish than heavenly.”  

Crabby, ill-mannered flight crew treating you rudely? It's not your imagination. They're being mean and the rumor is that they refer to us as "the enemy." Check out this story before you press the call button.

A mother and her son share their views and issue a call to action for African-American women to “wake up and face our reality…If we want respect, getting it is on us.” This impassioned feature points out “Black women’s tremendous power” to fend off the epidemic of disrespect that “compromises our quality of life.

There’s nothing cute about high-energy kids who are rude in public. This mom understands -- so here’s a letter from the parent of a “spirited” child to other parents in which she advises, “Spirit is not an excuse for rudeness.”

Children learn by example.  What are we doing in front of our kids?  Some insights from Jan Tincher in the Self-Improvement Newsletter.

There was a time when "throw the bums out" didn't mean the players' parents!  But belligerent parents heckle other children, throw punches at youth sporting events, are verbally and physically abusive, and this extreme behavior and pressure is causing 70% of kids to leave sports by the time they're 13-- there's no fun in it.

One case of "sideline rage" -- violence in youth sports -- is so sick and twisted, it's almost unbelievable: eight boys aged 12 to 14 were poisoned to sabotage a championship football game.  Time out mom & dad.

With hostile and violent drivers everywhere, chances are you've witnessed some aggressive driving incident up close and personal. For insight, help, and traffic safety resources, stop at this excellent site on driving behavior and road rage.

WebMD Medical News considers, "Getting a Grip on Roadway Anger...Studies Show It Leads to Risky Behavior, but Therapy Can Help."  Share the views of several specialists on how to deal with road rage. 

"Driven to Madness" ran in the Sunday Magazine of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on 9/7/1997 and over 4 years ago called incidents of road rage a "runaway national problem."  The piece traces the origins of "road rage", and notes that in only the past 10 years, the number of vehicle miles driven in the U.S. increased by 35%, while roads have grown by only 1%. 

In our pressure-cooker world, is there any chance for civility, moral values and polite behavior to survive? “Closer to Truth” helps creative and thoughtful scientists, scholars and artists explore these issues on public television, and you can tap into the transcript of Whatever Happened to Ethics and Civility?”

If you’ve experienced impatient, inconsiderate, disrespectful, incompetent, rude and nonexistent "customer service", author and behavioral researcher Dr. P.L. Frank proves it’s not your imagination.

Do sales clerks ignore or mistreat you? Do rude, untrained, and distracted salespeople make your shopping experiences unsatisfying? This Reader’s Digest feature seeks to explore why we get poor customer service.

Changing things for the better is what this column in the St. Petersburg Times is all about, and says that “Each of us has the power to bring back civility”, by Douglas Spangler.

We don't need an expert to tell us that someone who's angry can be mildly irritated, furious or raging.  But what we do need to pay attention to is the experts who tell us that anger causes physiological and biological changes like heart rate and blood pressure going up, in addition to your adrenaline!  The BBC covers anger management and strategies to keep anger at bay.

How about starting to change things for the better at home?  Here are 7 tips for getting along better with your kids from educator, psychologist and author Dr. James Sutton.

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