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You’re Paid to Work, Not to Endure Verbal Abuse. Don’t Be Intimidated

You’re Paid to Work, Not to Endure Verbal Abuse. Don’t Be Intimidated

As adults, most of us don’t have to deal with the same kind of bullying and verbal abuse we might have faced as kids, but this kind of abuse does happen in the workplace fairly regularly.

A 2014 survey from the Workplace Bullying Institute [1]found that 27 percent of all American workers are being bullied at work or have been in the past, and 21 percent have witnessed episodes of verbal abuse against co-workers.

In all, more than 65 million Americans have been affected by bullying at work.

What Defines Verbal Abuse at Work?

Verbal abuse is one part of workplace bullying, which can also include sabotaging a person’s work to prevent them from doing what they are supposed to be doing at work. Taking just the verbal piece, abuse is defined as language that is intimidating, threatening or humiliating.

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It may or may not include yelling, cursing, insulting or mocking the victim. This abuse may be tied to sexual harassment or not.

How Do You Know You’re Being Verbally Abused?

One reason it can be difficult to pin down what is abusive behavior — and to get the bully punished — is because people with different personalities have different levels of tolerance for teasing, gossip or sexual jokes. One person might be OK with it while another dreads coming to work and is ready to quit over the same situation.

There is clearly a difference between blowing off steam and complaining about work or your co-workers and being abusing to the point of harassment. But the difference can sometimes be hard to pin down.

You might begin to call the behavior verbal abuse when it regularly affects your attitude and performance [2]at work. If you are dreading work and obsessing about what might happen there in your off hours, that can be a sign. Other changes like higher blood pressure when around the abuser, feelings of shame or guilt or not wanting to do things you once enjoyed can all be effects of abuse in the workplace.

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Why Do People Abuse Others in the Workplace?

If there’s such a thing as an average abuser, most are men in positions of power above the person they are abusing. Fifty-six percent of the bullies in the Workplace Bullying Institute survey had authority over their victims, and 69 percent were men (60 percent of targets were female).

An abuser often has a group of friends [3] who may egg him or her on or who serve as witnesses to the abuse. These people will often laugh and try to make the abused person feel like the verbal abuse was all a joke that they shouldn’t be so sensitive about. But sometimes abusers will wait until they are alone with their victim so there is no proof of the abuse.

Either way, as with a lot of bullying outside the workplace, this verbal abuse is often related to the abuser wanting to feel more powerful and in control. They’ll abuse people they feel are weak in some way and use that person to make them feel better when they are under stress or in other situations when they feel the need to control someone.

Why is it Important to Understand Workplace Abuse?

Even if it’s not happening to you right now, it’s important to understand workplace abuse and what can be done about it so that you can support other people who might be in that situation or know what to do if it happens to you.

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The most important thing to know is that there is no law against bullying or verbal abuse in the workplace in the United States. But that doesn’t mean you have to suffer in silence.

Bullying can and often does rise to the level of harassment or creating a hostile work environment, which can be documented and presented as a formal complaint to a superior or to human resources.

How to Deal with Verbal Abuse at Work

The main thing you need to understand first is that the verbal abuse and bullying you are experiencing is not your fault. It’s not because you’re bad at your job and usually doesn’t have much to do with you at all.

Second, recognize that what is happening to you is not normal, and it is abuse. Don’t say “oh, she’s just having a bad day” or “he has a bad temper” to excuse the behavior.

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Begin by trying to talk to the abusive person about their behavior. Tell them you don’t like it when they talk that way and you feel they are being abusive. They may laugh it off, or they may take you seriously.

Some people secretly tape their abuser and play the tape back to them to show them their behavior, which they might not even fully realize they are doing.

Check your employee handbook for next steps. While there’s no state or federal law against bullying, your company may have respectful workplace policies in place or a procedure for dealing with harassment.

Document what’s been happening if you can so it doesn’t become a he said, she said battle.

But be aware of the possibility that you won’t be believed or supported by people who should be on your side. The company may feel the superior is more important and try to protect them even when they are in the wrong. Sometimes the only answer to verbal abuse in the workplace, unfortunately, is finding a new job or transferring away from that person.

Also consider getting help in the form of therapy, talking to a trusted friend or seeking out stories of people who have survived workplace abuse. It always helps to know that you are not alone.

Reference

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Sarah White

Freelance Writer, Editor, Professional Crafter

Hobbies are Good for You: How to Find One That Fits Your Personality You’re Paid to Work, Not to Endure Verbal Abuse. Don’t Be Intimidated How to Make People Read Your Emails (and Letters) and Reply Every Time How To Get Rid Of Oily Skin: 10 Effective DIY Facial Mask Ideas How to Negotiate Skilfully to Get What You Want All the Time

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Last Updated on October 30, 2019

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

What is the Stages of Change Model?

Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

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    The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

    The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

    The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

    The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

    1. Precontemplation
    2. Contemplation
    3. Determination
    4. Action
    5. Maintenance
    6. Termination

    How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

    To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

      Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

      Stage 1: Precontemplation

      At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

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      For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

      Stage 2: Contemplation

      At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

      You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

      The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

      Stage 3: Preparation

      At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

      Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

      Stage 4: Action

      When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

      Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

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      Stage 5: Maintenance

      After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

      Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

      Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

      Stage 6: Termination

      Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

      However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

      How long does each stage take?

      You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

      So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

      The limitations of this model

      The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

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      Require the ability to set a realistic goal

      For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

      If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

      Difficult to judge your progress

      The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

      Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

      Conclusion

      The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

      While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

      Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Psych Central: Stages Of Change
      [2] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [3] Empowering Change: Stages of Change
      [4] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [5] Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
      [6] The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
      [7] Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

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