This study says your rude coworkers may be the reason you can’t sleep

Insomnia is funded by an innumerable amount of tensions as it is, no need to succumb to ones that can be squashed, with a little forethought.

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A new study that appeared in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology analyzes the wake of habitual workplace incivility. “Workplace incivility is an extremely common workplace stressor, unfortunately, and I have devoted much of my work to understanding how and why incivility affects employees both at work and outside of work,” study author Caitlin A. Demsky, an assistant professor at Oakland University, told Psypost.

The old maxim, that warns us not to bring our work home with us, is typically aimed at those unable to amputate personal worth from their professional endeavors, but in this instance, Demsky and her team mean to say in no uncertain terms that ruminating on the fraught exchanges that occupy your work week, is dismantling the gears in your circadian clock.


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Insomnia is funded by an innumerable amount of tensions as it is, no need to succumb to ones that can be squashed, with a little forethought, and mental reconditioning.

The abstract

A review of 699 employees, saw insomnia symptoms rise in those that could not stop meditating on all the things that got them exercised at work. The authors of the study report, “We find support for a moderated mediation model in which the association between workplace incivility and increased insomnia symptoms via increased negative work rumination was weakest for employees reporting high levels of recovery experiences during nonwork time.”

Employees that were able to psychologically detach from the hectic events that plagued their workdays faired much better, though the study did face some pertinent limitations. It was a cross-sectional study,  which means it was derived from a representative subset, at a specific point in time. This makes it hard to identify an exact cause. More research would need to be done over the course of years to declare data that isn’t just correlative.

The hypothesis isn’t exactly far fetched. It can safely be assumed, by us non-professionals, that thinking about side-comments, and out-right aggressions made by our coworkers can’t be doing us much good. The authors implore firms to take office culture seriously as a start. To reduce toxic, nonwork outcomes based on hostile office culture, employers should establish a clear rubric for respectful and noninvasive discourse.

Susan Heathfield is a management and organization development consultant who specializes in human resources issues. In a piece she wrote recently she advised managers on how to handle frequent disputes between otherwise competent co-workers. Early intervention is key.

Too often, bitter long-standing conflicts are nourished by resentment. By identifying the base problem early, employees can work together to address it before the point of no return. Once the problem is identified and address, leaders should be sure to follow up. The proper handling of a single disagreement furnishes respectful communication for everyone. When the idea that conflicts can indeed be resolved is intimated, employees will be incentivized against submitting hurtful knee jerk reactions. Heathfield adds:

“Most of the time, employees are allowing their emotions to override their professionalism. Your intervention as a coach and guide can help them move past the emotional aspects into solving the real, existing problem. Then, your employees will get along and you can create the harmonious environment at work that you want, too.”


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CW Headley|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at cheadley@theladders.com.