Experiencing rude behaviour at the workplace such as condescending comments, put-downs, sarcasm, etc reduces employee's self-control and leads them to act in a similar uncivil manner. People who are recipients of incivility at work feel mentally fatigued as a result because uncivil behaviours are somewhat ambiguous and require due attention. This mental fatigue, in turn, led them to act uncivil toward other workers. In other words, they paid the incivility forward.
While curt remarks and other forms of incivility do not involve openly hostile behaviour such as bullying and threats, they are a frequent occurrence in the workplace and have a significant effect on employees. According to estimates, workplace incivility has doubled over the past two decades and has an average annual impact on production and work time.
When employees are mentally fatigued, it is more difficult for them to keep their negative impulses and emotions in check, which leads them to be condescending and rude to colleagues. This happens even for employees who desire to be agreeable and polite; they simply lack the energy to suppress curt and impatient responses.
Further, incivility spirals occur in workplaces that are perceived as political (i.e., where co-workers "do what is best for them, not what is best for the organization").
Being the victim of incivility leaves employees depleted because they must expend energy to understand why they are targeted and how to respond. This further makes the thing complex in highly political environments where the intentions and motives of others are less clear.