Learning From The Recent Top Gear Fiasco

Rudeness in the workplace

The ideal workplace is the epitome of politeness, appropriate behaviour, and soft-spoken words.

In today’s cutthroat world however, the ideal workplace does not exist. Professional jealousy, ego clashes and competition that is far from healthy infest the offices of today’s world, and having to navigate your way through such negativity while still trying to keep your head above it all will perhaps prove to be every employee and employer’s biggest challenge.

I am going to cite here the recent dropping out of Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear

Often one finds a young freshly hired professional entering the office scene with idealistic, naïve ideas about how an office functions. The likeliest scenario is that the idealistic worker soon succumbs to harsh office politics and world realities, and as they grow older, their ego, competitive spirit and mean streak balloons with them, until the office has turned them into the very person they once used to despise. It takes an incredible amount of control and understanding, however, to separate oneself from the negativity in a work environment, and to function in a manner that is appropriate and professional.

Rude celebrity stories

While workplace rudeness is not uncommon, readers up-to-date with the news, will find that such behavior is becoming increasingly rampant in recent times. Actors and television presenter’s in particular, have found themselves in glaring spotlight for being unprofessional, rude and even abusive. I am sure every reader has his or her favourite rude celebrity story, but I am going to cite here the recent dropping out of Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear. Not only because this is the most recent in the long line of unprofessional celebrity news, but also because the circumstances that led to the firing of Jeremy Clarkson comes very close to situations that one might have to deal with in everyday office settings.

Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson

Clarkson allegedly attacked the show’s producer, landing him in the hospital with a bleeding lip

Top Gear has been the largest factual show on television for several years, and Clarkson’s has been one of the three famous faces constantly steering the show to limitless success and popularity. Earlier this month, Clarkson allegedly attacked the show’s producer, Oisin Tymon, landing him in the hospital with a bleeding lip. The attack, it was believed, took place because Clarkson was not provided hot food at the hotel he was put up at, and what started out as an heated argument soon turned into physical violence.

Oisin Tymon, Top Gear producer
Oisin Tymon, “Top Gear” producer

Clarkson was immediately fired from the show and producers of Top Gear refused to change their minds even after outpourings of disappointment and frustration from millions of Clarkson fans across the world. Clarkson has been the face of Top Gear ever since the show started earning recognition, as far back as in 2002, and a show without him, to most fans may seem like a ridiculous and unimaginable idea. Tony Hall, the director-general of the show justified the decision with a recent announcement.

“For me a line has been crossed. There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank, or public relations and commercial considerations”, Tony Hall

Top Gear fans seem uncertain whether the show will go one, and if it does, they are worried it may not be as exciting as before. If readers were to recall, however, the attitude of the audience was not dissimilar when Charlie Sheen was dropped out of Two And A Half Men, a show that is considered one of the biggest television series of all times and perhaps loved so dearly primarily because of Sheen’s compelling character on the show. The television series continued smoothly even without Sheen, and I am inclined to think that so will Top Gear.

Jon Cryer, left, and Charlie Sheen in “Two and a Half Men.”
Jon Cryer, left, and Charlie Sheen in “Two and a Half Men”

How to deal with rudeness in the office

One might think of this as nothing out of the ordinary. Famous personalities have always been known to have a bit of an attitude, that at some point blows out of proportion and eventually leads to a tragic downfall. Scenarios such as these are not uncommon in the media business. But if you were to think about it, fame is a huge responsibility and by that logic an actor should always be acutely aware of how they conduct themselves in public. I am therefore inclined to think that cases of rudeness and abuse such as these is perhaps more rampant in the office world, one that is far away from the constant scrutiny of public.

No one, as we have seen over and over again, is irreplaceable and the show will always go on, even without you.

Dealing with such circumstances without succumbing to the level of rudeness and unprofessionalism that you are exposed is an extra ordinary task. A rude employee or manager can infuse the work environment with negativity, lower the morale of colleagues and eventually even hurt business. Here are a few tips you might want to consider if you have been bearing the brunt of rude behavior at the office:

  • Be tolerant and understanding. Perhaps your colleague is being rude because he/she is stressed about something, or perhaps he/she is doing so unintentionally. Go up to the person and talk to them. Ask them if they need help or if they are worried about tomorrow’s meeting. Sometimes, simple gestures like these can avoid severe misunderstandings.
  • It is a manager’s responsibility to help a peer or subordinate see that their behaviour is unacceptable. Having a series of private meetings with the rude colleague and helping him/her improve their attitude has been suggested as an effective disciplining technique.
  • If all else fails, inform the employee of the trouble they are inviting upon themselves and start disciplinary procedures as per the company policy. Just as Hall said, “There cannot be one rule for one, and one rule for another.”

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The show must go on

While it is important to know how to deal with rude peers, it is even more important to remember not to become one of them. Your company will not hesitate to show you the door if you start crossing a line. If unprofessionalism has been a downfall for famous celebrities, it can just as easily be a downfall for you too. No one, as we have seen over and over again, is irreplaceable and the show will always go on, even without you.



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Pursuing an MSc in Geology, apart from science, writing on HR has always been one of my greatest passions.