Psychological Hostility in The Workplace

Interesting topic for this week’s post, something I have been pondering for years now as I have worked in different environments and with different people.

Does the use by managers and employees of psychological strategies have a positive or detrimental affect? It seems it can go both ways and it can certainly backfire if levying the wrong techniques against someone who is percieved in a light without clinical evaluation to determine their psychological makeup. I say throw away the tactics and treat people like people.

No, I don’t mean using strategies against someone who may have underlying psychosis, without a doubt that would actually be abuse and not hostility. What I am referring to is someone who may not appreciate the approach you have chosen and will consider it a form of hostility proving to disintegrate a working relationship quickly.

For instance, trying to browbeat and badger someone with a misconception that they are a passive individual without confidence. Will this tact provide for a positive outcome if used against someone who is confident in their skillset and experience? I think not, in fact I know it will not, because I have had people take this approach with me.

Is it valid to approach someone as though they are the real problem, when in fact they are not the problem? Maybe that person has documented every single aspect and occurence clearly defining that there are issues in existence. How do you approach that person and try to make them out to be the actual problem, even trying to convince them they are the issue? This is in fact creating a hostile environment for that person and is borderline abusive.

More importantly, what drives someone to attack another like this. One can look at past cases of proven sexual abuse in the work place, the tactics used to silence the victim, and to even go so far as to attack the victim while hailing the abuser(s) and it gives one great insight, as the tactics are no different. As a manager, as a leader, one must answer the question why?

Can these same tactics be used to stop someone from getting a promotion? From getting a job in a different department? Can it cause a valued employee to leave? Can it result in higher level management taking punitive action against the target, when there is no real reason do so other than they are tired of all the complaints and want it to just go away? The answers to this question is absolutely and it does happen. I can attest to it, maybe this will become a series of blog posts.

My experiences, along with what I have seen others endure, in many ways shaped my management philosophy as well as work philosophy. Enough red flags and I will cut ties without hesitation or regret, life is too short. I have tried the route of trying to effect change from within and spent nearly a decade of my work life doing just that, however looking back was it quite possibly the wrong decision. I think possibly it was.

No matter what level they are at, or what department they are in, even if they have a major in psychology, employees should not be wielding approaches like this against other employees. This statement does not regulate this to just the workplace, it’s across the board with interactions between human beings.

I historically used to treat these actions by others as just “work place noise”. I generally ignored it and focused on my job, doing a lot of good work. There was a common by-product, the more beneficial improvements produced, the crazier complaints became, the more positive value I added, the more I became a target.

What else do you do if someone is complaining because you type too loud? Complaining because you bring an IPad to meetings? Complaining because they walked by and your door was shut? Complaining because you would not do something that was detrimental to the organization, it’s data, and had the potential to cause disruption to your customers? Complaining because you don’t sit perfectly still in a meeting, tending to look around, sometimes fidget, or shake your leg? Complaining because you use bullet points? The horror really occurs when you forget your IPad at home and use Apple Notes on your IPhone to take meeting notes, which sync’s to your IPad, but I digress….

I probably do type a little hard, however I type really fast too, but lets not talk about that or that E= MC2. I play guitar, my fingers are fairly fast and strong.

That IPad was a lot lighter and easier to carry than dragging around a laptop, mouse, and sometimes the much needed power supply.

My door was shut probably because I was meeting with someone, maybe an employee doing knowledge transfer, or was on a conference call or meeting, but they didn’t bother knocking or scheduling a meeting. Nope, complaining is better.

Sure, I would not agree to anything that could be detrimental to an organization or it’s data, however I gave you better options, many times those options were much more robust, easier to implement and maintain, yet its better to complain I am hard to work with.

Yes, I shake my leg, some can even interprate that I am inattentive at times, because I look around the room or fidget. I have ADD, doesn’t mean I am not listening or paying attention. I am probably working through multiple problems or improvements in my head, taking mental note of everything in the meeting, while appearing to be miles away. I might even pause to make a note on my electronic device, while your employee is sitting over in the corner playing games on his android device, but who’s counting.

An HR person once told me I needed to find a point to stare at it or clasp my hands together, possibly stair at my feet in order that other’s would not complain because I moved too much or seemed inattentive. Maybe I could try sitting on my hands even!

Do you tell a quadraplegic to just get up and walk so others won’t complain about their wheel chair?

What makes a peer on your same level inform you that they are going to fire you the first chance they get, first making sure nobody else is in ear shot?


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