Today I had a thought which has probably crossed my mind before; however it is only now occurring to me how much of an issue this particular thing can become. This thing is the consistent devaluing of people who work and live around us. No one likes to be cut down or made to feel useless, or like they cannot do anything right. So why is it that everyday I can go into the office and hear someone get cut down? Usually the person being cruel is someone who is higher on the totem pole so to speak. Many jobs other than the military have a ranking system, and I have seen it used in almost every one that I have worked in, in such a way that someone feels they can talk down to someone else solely because they “have rank”. Let us just sit back and think for a second, we all know in our hearts that its doesn't JUST happen in jobs, this happens on school yards in our family homes, on the street with strangers.
If you have ever told someone they were “always” and followed it up with something negative, even you weren't being entirely serious or very angry; you took value away from that person while at the same time became unapproachable. Simply wording your statements a tiny bit differently can be the difference between making someone feel totally worthless and making someone realize they made a mistake (which, I will point out, they usually already know they made one).
I'm not going to sit here and say I've never done this, because I have and that is something I realized and now try very hard not to do. Because it happened one too many time to me I felt like I was no good at my job (which as a lot of elements), and then spread me the rest of my life. The issue is this feeling is a poison, it can and does cause people to give up hope, believing they don't have worth. Once this happens they feel no need to follow even the basic rules of their job, don't show up on time, give low quality work and eventually stop taking care of themselves.
Ultimately an individual can combat this themselves, however it take a large amount of drive and motivation that is very hard to find if you are constantly being cut down. So here is where the rest of us come in. the next time your employee, co-worker, friend or loved one is late for something or has a preventable accident or does something wrong; try not to jump on them right away. This is the hardest part, when other people don't live up to our expectations of them we get upset or angry. If you can take a deep breath and simply ask “Are you alright? Did something happen?” Anything. For all you know their kid has a bad fever, or they had a fight with their spouse, or their favorite fish died. No matter how trivial the reason is to you, the issue could weight a million pounds to them.
Doing this has a number of great impacts upon that person, first it gives them a chance to really say what happened. Next it opens the door to communication, it makes you as a boss, co-worker and friend approachable so if they have a truly bad problem they won't be afraid to come to you and get help. And the most important (I think) is that it lets this person know they aren't in a battle zone.
If the person has done something wrong taking that second allows two way communication “You were late, please try not to do it again.” Is a much easier statement to swallow than “You are always late! Do you care about your job at all?” Which I have heard before. Yelling doesn't fix anything especially not the first time someone does something wrong. I feel if someone makes a habit of unacceptable behavior you should handle then one-on-one away from others. I've heard yelling is a way to show others that you do not accept bad behavior, but that is not the only way.
Compassion and patience will take us much farther than rage and in the end will get us better quality work, and better quality time spent. So like I said I try to take a second and think when things go wrong, try to think of how I would like to be approached if it were me and go from there. Give it a try and see what happens, you might just be surprised. I know I have been.
Until next time: