Posted tagged ‘low status’

The story of rude minor officials

September 25, 2011

We’ve probably all experienced this: an official, separated from us by a desk or indeed a glass partition, talks to us in rather patronizing and rude tones; or keeps us waiting after finishing with the last member of the public even though they can see – or maybe because they can see – that we are in a hurry. Then there is the official from whom we need something – say, an authorization – and who looks ever more likely to turn us down the more they see how important it is to us.

So, is that just a lot of unjustified stereotyping? Perhaps not. A study carried out by researchers from the University of Southern California, Northwestern University and Stanford University has revealed that persons with ‘high power and low status’ have a tendency to demean others. This is partly driven by the frustration of knowing that they do not themselves enjoy respect or admiration, and this prompts them to want to inconvenience or demean others. A solution, the researchers found, is for managers to assure and convince the people in question that their roles carry status and that they are respected.

I suspect this is also connected with the consequences of having a hierarchical society or organisation.

So there is little point being angry with the rude official. It is better to reinforce their sense of self-esteem.


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