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Identifying abuse on the job




Patricia Grant-Kitson
Career writer


Innumerable instances of questionable, distressing human relations practices at the workplace occurring between employees at different hierarchical levels, and between employees at the same hierarchical level in the organisation.

To abuse someone, according to the New Penguin English Dictionary, means to criticise, condemn, or express disapproval of the person harshly or vehemently, or to harm or injure the person by wrong or cruel treatment.

Hence, at the workplace, abuse can be mental/emotional, physical and environmental, with the first being the most common and occurring via verbal, non-verbal, and written communication media. To be more specific, here are some examples of abuse that may occur on the job:

Managers creating animosity between employees by overtly showing favouritism.
Managers using their personal feelings about an employee to evaluate his/her job performance, rating the person's performance low without supporting evidence.
Employees shouting at each other by sending e-mail in capital letters.
Employees laughing and giggling at another employee behind his/her back.
Employees deliberately omitting another employee from a meeting or project to which he/she should have been a part of.
Managers making an employee look/feel stupid in front of other people by rebuking the person for something he/she did wrong in their presence, or by belittling the employee's knowledge and skills in their presence.
Employee using offensive or vulgar language to another employee, or in the presence of that employee.
Employees banding together to give another employee "silent" treatment in response to a perceived wrong.
Managers constantly using an autocratic leadership style when the employee's experience, qualifications and skills do not warrant such a style.
Employees giving others no choice in exposing them to secondary cigarette smoke and high levels of dust and noise.

If you can identify with any of these, then you are a victim of abuse on the job.


**Patricia Grant-Kitson is a Human Resource Management and Training Consultant. Email patriciaktsn@yahoo.com
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