How rude: Survey reveals 78% of employees say customers are behaving worse than ever

It might not come as a shock, considering viral videos of people sticking it to fast-food workers or getting downright violent with flight attendants, but a new survey shows lots of people are being downright rude lately. 

Georgetown University management professor Christine Porath has been an expert in incivility for 20 years. She recently published results in the Harvard Business Review of a survey of 2,000 so-called “frontline workers.” These were people all over the world who work directly with customers: from health care workers to waiters to grocery baggers.

She explains that rudeness has been on the rise for years, but the COVID pandemic seems to have caused a major uptick in jerky behavior. 

Porath noted 76% of those polled experience incivility at least once per month and 78% say they witness it once a month; 70% say they witness customers behaving badly at least two or three times a month. 

Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed say it’s becoming common for customers to be rude — that is a steep jump from 2012, when just 61% of respondents said that.

Her survey showed nearly 8 in 10 of those polled say the bad behavior is worse now than it was five years ago. 

And all this bad behavior isn’t just directed at employees: 66% of those polled say they’ve witnessed customers being rude to each other more than they have in years. 

The respondents to Porath’s poll admitted they weren’t immune to the growing rudeness epidemic themselves: 73% blamed being rude to their co-workers on stress, which has been on the rise thanks to the pandemic, high inflation and other economic factors. 

Survey questions, methodology and results have not been verified or endorsed by ABC News or The Walt Disney Company.