When you hear the term workplace violence, more than likely, you imagine the threat of physical assault. However, it is much more common to be attacked with words while on the job, than with fists.
Any of us that have experienced it understand that verbal abuse can be just as damaging. But, at the same time, it is much harder to quantify. Different people experience it in different ways.
To illustrate this point, we have designed a verbal abuse online quiz.
Rate how you would feel if a colleague or customer said the following to you:
As you worked through these instances of verbal abuse, it may have occurred to you that there is no correct answer. And that is the point. Everybody experiences verbal abuse differently. But it is important to understand which areas you yourself are more sensitive too.
Which phrases would you find the most difficult to deal with? And which the easiest?
Moreover, if you were really subject to the abuse in the quiz, how would you react? Would you impulsively lash out? Would you laugh? Cry? Would you say that you are sorry?
Traditional violence and aggression training tends to rely on preparing individuals for physical assaults and providing them the skills to de-escalate situations. But this will not work for every scenario they may face. As was noted in Walter Brennon’s workplace verbal abuse, certain types of abuse can’t be de-escalated.
Furthermore, if verbal abuse significantly upsets you, you may be more apt to punch the offender in the face, rather than calm them down.
Verbal abuse is a complex issue. Therefore, violence and aggression training needs to be equally complex. It should provide staff with de-escalation techniques, but also an understanding of themselves. It should provide staff with a clear picture of how you might react and what to do, if the worst happens.