The Rude Road to Success

Exploring the impact of rudeness on career advancement in the security industry, Yolanda Hamblen of IFPO examines ‘success at any cost’ in toxic workplaces  

In recent years, discussions within the security community and broader professional circles like LinkedIn have increasingly turned towards the prevalence of bullying behaviours, toxic work environments, and the nuances of workplace dynamics. Terms like ‘gaslighting’ and ‘flying monkey’ have entered our modern understanding, shedding light on the insidious nature of abusive relationships within organisations that should really know better. As professionals, we find ourselves navigating through these complexities, striving for safer, healthier workplace cultures where empathy, trust, and respect prevail. This is particularly relevant for an industry, like security, where we are only now starting to understand the consequences to skill development and recruitment that toxic workplaces can have. Why is it hard to find respect in some workplaces? 

Interestingly when I googled ‘Flying Monkey’ I learned this definition comes from “The Wizard of Oz, in which the Wicked Witch of the West puts flying monkeys under her spell”. It turns out the security industry is a little bit like the Wizard of Oz at times if only to compare it to the main theme of ‘flourishing against the odds`.  

We are on a journey of discovery; learning the terminologies for feelings and experiences we have had. I am yet to speak to anyone in the security community, who hasn’t worked for or with a narcissist or worked in a toxic workplace, or even experienced ‘flying monkeys’ at work. In fact, it was only after a year of leaving one workplace I realised the term ‘Flying Monkey’ had applied to what I had witnessed in my workplace.  

With our focus now on ‘safer workplace cultures’ and ‘managing with empathy’ in all aspects of the industry whether physical or cyber, these phrases are designed to be favoured practices. Doesn’t everyone deserve a safe and healthy work culture where managers and leaders demonstrate empathy in managing people with trust and respect? Isn’t it as simple as treating people with respect? Isn’t it that simple? But if it is in fact that simple why doesn’t everyone do it, and why isn’t ‘treating people with respect’ easy for some? Let’s take a look at those bullying behaviours that make a workplace toxic in a slightly different way, and my inspiration for this came when I read one of the amazing insightful books written by Danny Wallace, this one is called ‘I can’t believe you just said that!’. On the front cover it read, ‘The truth about why people are so rude’. 

The book grabbed my attention from the outset as Danny delved very deeply into why rude people get ahead in the workplace, and he wrote, ‘Rude people do not find themselves constrained by all the normal rules that you and I tend to feel obliged to abide by’. 

Wallace’s exploration of the phenomenon extends to societal behaviours beyond the workplace. He illustrates how individuals in positions of power, whether real or perceived, often exhibit a sense of entitlement that leads to rudeness. Drawing from psychological studies, he highlights how those with wealth or status are more inclined to disregard rules, further perpetuating a culture where rudeness is tolerated, if not rewarded. 

Danny refers to Donald Trump, a lot. Trump is the best test case for a person with power and status, who oozes rudeness. The book says, “Let’s look at an infamous bully, Trump” Danny Wallace writes “He insulted Mexicans by implying many of them were rapists. He did a ‘funny’ Indian accent. He insulted women by calling some of them ugly or implying that if they asked him a tough question they were probably menstruating. He did an impression of a disabled journalist with a withered hand. While in the same room as him’. Danny summarises by saying “rude people project authority”. So, I am wondering, is this why bullies get away with their behaviour for so long in the security industry too? 

Read the full article for free in our latest issue here.

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Rebecca Morpeth Spayne,
Editor, Security Portfolio
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 922

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