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ImageIf you have a rude boss or aggressive colleagues at your workplace, you are far more likely to make mistakes, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, found that rudeness in the office causes staff to make more mistakes, even if they are not on the receiving end of the aggression.

Professor Rhona Flin, who led the research at the University of Aberdeen, said: "Human attention is powerfully driven by emotion."

In one experiment, students who were insulted by a professor on the way to the test performed worse on a series of memory tasks than others who had not been spoken to rudely.

"This reaction is probably caused by the emotional arousal caused by the rudeness, which resulted in a switchover of cognitive capacity to deal with the required emotional processing, or it may, more simply, be caused by distraction," Professor Flin was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

In another test, a student who was late for a group experiment apologised and was subjected to a staged humiliation by the person in charge of the test.

Though the level of rudeness was not extreme and the comment was said at normal volume, students who witnessed the exchange went on to perform more poorly on tasks than a control group which had not witnessed rudeness.

Professor Flin said the link between performance and rudeness was particularly worrying when it comes to health care, with patients potentially being put at risk.

In operating theatres, even witnessing rudeness between doctors can impact on how the team performs, she said.

"Recent studies suggest that disagreements and aggression between clinical staff are not uncommon," she wrote in the British Medical Journal.

In a recent survey of 391 operating theatre staff of British hospitals, 66 per cent said they had been the victim of aggressive behaviour from nurses and 53 per cent from surgeons during the previous six months.
Professor Flin said: "If incivility does occur in operating theatres and affects workers' ability to perform tasks, the risks for surgical patients -- whose treatment depends on particularly high levels of mental concentration and flawless task execution -- could increase."

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