Malpractice of the Mouth
Is your mind your greatest asset? Do you suffer from malpractice of the mouth?
Is your mind your greatest asset? Do you suffer from malpractice of the mouth? That is the malady that occurs when the mouth enrages before the mind engages! You may work with someone afflicted!
There is no room in the workplace for verbal violence. None! It is inappropriate, unacceptable, and, definitely, unprofessional. No allowances for verbal violence should be made for educated and mentally competent adults in positions of authority. NONE!
Folks who yell and curse (and some who add obscenities) are using their words in the same way they would use their fists. It is no more sophisticated. It is both a sign of lack of skills and a symptom of unmanaged frustration. They need help–help to express their feelings and their need for control appropriately.
Should providing this help be the responsibility of the organization? That is an important question. Employees who are doing an excellent job in most areas are the consideration, aren’t they? They are valuable and they have a ‘people skills’ gap. The good news is that people skills can be taught. The bad news is that some folks do not want to learn them. So, the first assessment that must be made is the willingness of the employee to examine and improve their skills. No number of training hours can make a person change.
A few years ago, I was delivering a program on managing difficult people successfully. As this is a program I often deliver, some agencies regularly sent folks to it. One woman appeared in the course three times in three years. At one break, she complained to me, “I just don’t know why they keep sending me on this silly course. I know it by heart. It’s a waste of their money.” Well, I knew why she was there. She was the ‘difficult person’ and she just would not internalize the information being given to her. You know, we may all be someone else’s idea of a difficult person at times. This woman was the poster child. She was bright enough. She was able to grasp the concepts, but, she simply would not apply them to herself. Perhaps, she is still being sent to that same course. and still complaining about it!
Confrontation is not a ‘four letter’ word. Neither should it employ certain four letter words. To confront simply means to meet face-to-face. A confrontation adds the dynamic of differing opinions. It is possible to have a conversational confrontation when folks have skills and willingness.
Verbal violence is most often a scream for attention, a misguided demand for respect or an attempt to exert control. All three come from fear. Certainly, you can understand those fears, however, two things must happen to make the workplace safe. The violator must change his or her ways, and, the violated must express their boundaries. Verbal violence is clearly harassment. It has no place in the workplace. Yes, every now and then, mistakes are made, tempers flare and apologies are accepted. That goes with the territory of being human. It is when verbal violence is a management style that steps must be taken. Whether you are managing other folks or managing your personal life, violence leads to alienation, the very thing the violator is seeking most to avoid!
First things first. If you are the violator, stop! Step away and reflect on your needs for attention, respect and control. Are they healthy? Are they serving you well? Are they appropriate in this circumstance? If not, find help. If you are the violated, remember, anytime that you take their bait and participate in the verbal violence loop, you are letting them get away with it. Anytime you cower and retreat, you are also letting them get away with it. Simply say that you find the treatment unacceptable and that you are willing to have the conversation when it can be done in a respectful dialogue and move away. Yes, I know that sounds simple and is not always easy. It’s your first step. Also tell the violator that, if change does not occur, your next step is to inform a higher authority of the verbal violence, the harassment. Then, do it.
Remember, you are responsible for teaching people how to treat you…everywhere.
(c) Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, San Diego, CA.. All rights reserved worldwide.
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