Are you treating your co-workers rudely without even knowing it? 

Companies that tolerate even a small amount of incivility in the workplace can quickly adopt a more widespread culture of rudeness, according to the Wall Street Journal. Why? Researchers report that individuals are susceptible to involuntarily picking up their colleagues' rude behavior.  

"You respond to their rudeness with your own rudeness," Trevor Foulk, a doctoral candidate at the University of Florida, told WSJ. "It is an automatic cognitive process and occurs deep in our brains." Foulk's study appears in the most recent edition of the Journal of Applied Psychology

The bad news for entrepreneurs is that workplace rudeness saps your employees' productivity. "It doesn’t just hurt your feelings," Foulk says. "Experiencing or witnessing rudeness hurts your performance."

The situation can be even worse if your company communicates primarily through email or other digital platforms, as benign messages can be easily interpreted as rude or snippy.

Foulk's next study will look at ways of staging interventions to stop contagious rudeness before it spreads. To learn more about how your environment influences your behavior, check out the video below.