Sunday 10 June 2007

One way to handle verbally abusive behaviour

(2 components of communication)
Try to address an emotional glitch right at the moment of its occurrence.

We would always readily feel hurt when we get verbally abused (e.g., "You @#$%&^* no good! ..") or simply just get gently jabbed emotionally by a tone of voice which is getting impatient or a body language that is tense. A typical scenario of miscommunication between two persons is illustrated below.
  1. Started with a logical and civil discussion between person A and B.
  2. Triggered by something "B" said, "A" gets impatient and shows his/her impatience via a change of his/her tone of voice (and often with change of body language) ... meanwhile, on the surface, he/she communicates a logical point(s).
  3. "B" feels jabbed emotionally but he/she still focuses on responding to the logical point under discussion.
  4. Now, A's impatience grows .. however, he/she generally and often unknowingly express his/her impatience by coming up with stronger and more elaborate arguments for his/her logical point(s) made earlier ... and the tone of voice is getting more abusive.
  5. "B" now starts to show his/her hurt via an aggressive (or passive aggressive) tone of voice (and certain type of body language) .. however, strange enough, as if by choice, "B" stays on the logical level to argue with "A".
  6. The exchange becomes hurtful and totally unproductive ... and the experience adds to the accumulated feeling of hurt which one day would result in an irreparable explosion.

Suggested remedy:
  • There are always two components in any communication (an emotional one and a logical one - see diagram above). Whenever we sense the occurrence of an emotional glitch (e.g., the other person's tone of voice is getting a bit aggressive), if possible, we must stop the logical discussion and immediately address the emotional glitch (e.g., calmly state, "How come you sound so stressed? Do you have a tough day at work?", "Do you realize that you've raised your voice?"). If you don't feel comfortable to address that right at that moment, bring it up with that person afterwards .. but it must be addressed.
  • Seek a proper closure for every such emotional abusive incident. The lack of this kind of check-and-balance force in place in the business environment explains partly why a lot of people in power behave abusively ... they're spoiled by their subordinates or their peers.
[posted Nov. 2007]

... Please provide your comment to benefit those who come after you. Click the "comments/post a comment" button. Note: you need to have a Google ID.

No comments:

Post a Comment