How do you deal with verbal abuse in the workplace?
March 18, 2012 9:57 PM Subscribe
How do you deal with verbal abuse in your workplace?
posted by marimeko to Human Relations (21 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
A person I work with is verbally abusive. He has already been fired for his 'attitude' but has recently returned. The owner of the business sees a very different side of this person than I do. This person can be reasonable, kind and professional when he wants something. And I tend to accept that the nice, reasonable person is who he 'really' is. Then this veneer wears off and he becomes verbally abusive. He will probably get fired again or I will find another job. In any case, I need to improve the way I handle such things as:
- When a person denies something they just said or did: 'No. I didn't say that' or, 'I didn't do that' when they just said or did 'that'.
- Being spoken down to or talked to like a child.
- Verbal abuse masked as jokes. 'Oh, calm down. It's a joke'.
- Being cut off: in this case my response to any given insult ('joke') issued to me by my coworker will immediately be treated with, 'okay, move on' and 'let it go' the instant I start to speak.
- Dealing with condescending, snide, arrogant personalities.
The person I work with recently yelled expletives at me when I asked him to let me do a task that he had already started doing that is my responsibility. I asked him more than once because I definitely needed to do the task and because he was arguing with me instead of letting me do the task. I explained to him that I needed to do it because it is my job (something he already knows). He became furious, said personally insulting things to me and he stormed out. I stood up for myself. I didn't yell (they were yelling) but mentioned as calmly as I could that their yelling and swearing at me was not appropriate and would they 'please let me do my job'. I heard myself, though, and I sounded scared and almost like I was negotiating or pleading with them, which is not okay. When I'm being verbally abused or bullied (either subtly or overtly) I wind up feeling nearly incapable of speaking. The incidence of several negative emotions all at once makes me feel frozen. I feel a tiny bit frantic which may or may not be evident to others. My vocabulary and ability to string together words becomes diminished. What I do manage to say comes out in a way that betrays the fact that I am upset. It is very much like nightmares I've had where I can't scream. I was bullied as a child so I know why I respond this way. I am currently in therapy but think hearing what other people actually do in such situations will be beneficial.
How do you deal with verbal abuse in the workplace? What things outside of therapy do you do to prevent verbal abuse from having an effect or from occurring? Resources, books and websites that are especially helpful are welcome. Thank you!