Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Joan Finegan


Rude treatment at work can lead to many negative consequences, as evidenced by the wealth of research available. This dissertation, addressed two important questions that have yet to receive adequate attention. First, how does an employee experience incivility, and second, what is a practical and cost-effective way of mitigating the negative outcomes associated with incivility and promoting positive ones? Incivility research has mainly employed quantitative methods to understand incivility experiences. Using qualitative methods however, would complement the knowledge and potentially move the field of inquiry in new directions. As such, the goal of Study One was to obtain a narrative description of workplace incivility experiences. I took a descriptive phenomenological approach as this allowed me to best capture the events through the employees’ eyes. The interviews involved discussions about an uncivil event and their thoughts, feelings, and behaviour during and after the event. Interview findings revealed several novel elements of the incivility incident such as the importance of communication and the almost certain deterioration of the relationship between perpetrator and victim. The interview findings also identified vulnerability factors that intensified the negative experience. For example, newcomers to the organization were more likely to experience feelings of anger, hate, and anxiety than more tenured employees. In Study Two, I explored the role of three mindfulness facets (non-reactivity, non-judging, and acting with awareness) as regulatory factors by examining whether they mitigated the negative relationship between incivility and well-being and promoted forgiveness via decreased rumination and negative affect. Overall, results showed that when using the Perceived Victimization Measure, non-judging and acting with awareness buffered against stress and promoted forgiveness via deceased negative affect, but not rumination. These results were not replicated when using the Workplace Incivility Scale. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed, along with directions for future research.