Verbal Abuse in the Workplace: How Can You Deal With It?
Verbal abuse covers a wide range of behaviors: cursing, yelling, insulting, threatening or mocking a person, among others. The behavior could occur in private or in front of other people. Its presence is not always clear, either. But what is clear is that it should not be tolerated in any workplace, and as soon as you discover it, it’s important that you put an end to it.
Here are some strategies you can take to quell instances of verbal abuse within your business:
- Address the situation. Approach the abuser and let them know that you are aware of the situation. Perhaps they do not realize their actions or words have been hurtful to the victim, in which case, you should be upfront with them and have a discussion about the impact of their actions. In other situations, the abuser may be well aware they are hurting the feelings of the victim. In these cases, be careful not to let the confrontation escalate.
- Reference your company rules. Employees engaging in verbal abuse should be reminded that your company will not tolerate such behavior. They should understand that there are consequences for these actions, and that if they continue to engage in this kind of abuse, they will be subject to those consequences.
- Document the situation. Keep a record of complaints against employees and conversations that you have had with them about their behavior. That way, if the behavior repeats itself, you have clear documentation about previous instances of abuse.
- Take appropriate action if the behavior continues. If the abuser fails to correct his or her action after your conversation, it’s up to you what kind of action you should take. If it appears unlikely that the employee will change his or her ways, the best course of action may be termination. The last thing you want is one person “poisoning the well,” so to speak.
You should strive to maintain a happy, healthy workplace for all of your employees.
In addition to these tips, you should be sure that all of your employees are familiar with company policy in regard to verbal abuse, and that they understand that you have their back if they ever feel like they have become the target of such behavior.
by Christine Kelly
CEO and Queen Bee | Viral Solutions LLC