What I learnt this week: Can rudeness cause harm? #WILTW

This is the 71st #WILTW

I am writing this at Heathrow airport. There are thousands of people here and in the last 10 minutes a sizeable percentage of them seem to have descended on one the few ‘Charging Poles”. There are some interesting stand-offs. How long is it acceptable for to plug in a device and is it safe to have your laptop lead running across the floor to the seats 3m away?  People are being generally British though and nothing has got too heated.

Mr Rude

Rudeness in healthcare, however, is an all too common occurrence. From difficult referrals to inappropriate bed-side comments about another person’s clinical skills, most professionals will have felt someone has been rude to them. How many have knowingly been rude in return though? Would you confess to ever having delivered a  gruff back handed comment? Do you know what you consider as ‘rude’? How about being on your phone in the middle of a meeting as being disrespectful of the chair (I am guilty of this).

In a fascinating study published earlier this month in Paediatrics the impact of a individual being rude to a neonatal intensive care team during a simulation was observed. I have copied the results below

Neonatal Abstract

Rudeness in this study took the form of an apparent expert being dismissive of others performance

“..the visiting expert commented that while he liked some of what he observed during his visit, medical staff like those observed recently “wouldn’t last a week” in his department..

And it appeared to be detrimental (although it possible to argue about the clinical impact of the differences between the groups in the study). This finding is pretty obvious in some respects. Rudeness is likely to be distracting, especially in high stake situations.

The impact was tangible though. It begs the question as to how other elements of rudeness, perhaps that of dis-engaging in meetings, have a long term effect? I’m not sure how well this has been studied but it will make me think twice about answering that “in-meeting” text message.

What have you learnt this week? #WILTW

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