What nursery rhyme am I talking about? All of them have good things to say and warnings towards the way we live and treat others. While that may be true, in most respects, the one I’m discussing here, can lead to emotional, physical, and mental trauma for those that are fortunate enough to get away from it, if they ever can.
So, which one is it that drives people to be traumatized and develop PTSD, mental issues, and other such problems? “Sticks & Stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!” Those words are an absolute bald-faced LIE! In the era in which we live – although I’m not saying the past was devoid of it – but words can drive into a person’s psyche harder and more hurtful than physical abuse. They can hurt people, sometimes for a lifetime, the more they are repeated and the way they are said.
When it comes to domestic violence (DV), racial epithets which isn’t the focus here, the abuser usually makes the victim believe that the words are true…no matter what the truth may actually be.
Those words can be from a sibling, parent, grandparent, parents, bosses, co-workers, teachers, or literally anyone that the individual is associated with. If it’s a one time or maybe a twice said thing…it may not affect them as deeply and can be quickly forgotten.
But when the abuse is an on-going item, even once a week, and it starts as young as 2 or 3 years of age…then it can literally be held in the back of someone’s mind for decades. It can and usually will hold them back from achieving their dreams & goals. And that only reinforces the anger and words from those around them.
Words can ALWAYS hurt someone, especially if used over and over again at one person. Many times, I’ve heard someone say they would rather have had the sticks and stones than words…those injuries heal much faster than the verbiage spewed. Those words can last for a lifetime when it comes to child abuse and DV.
For most people they can learn to cope with the insults, and denigration of hurtful words. Others, like my mother, many female friends, as well as my wife Eileen and girlfriend Angela…who suffered through verbal/physical domestic violence and child abuse, they never get over the haunting facts which have dogged them for decades, including PTSD. Yes, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder…it’s not just veterans or First Responders.
For those people who are affected by those words, it can go several ways, none of which are good for anyone:
#1 they could decide it’s far too much, deciding to “Go Postal” on people at school or a business. Then, 43% of the time, they’ll commit suicide to escape retribution and/or dying slowly in prison.
#2 they become introverted and shy away from anyone who could hurt them again, even in a personal relationship, and it only takes one word to earn mistrust between two people.
#3 they become the proverbial loner, with no friends or social life. For some people, this can lead to “sleeping around”, stealing, or vandalism, all in an effort to discover who loves them more…the ones who insulted them repeatedly in the past or those who turn a blind eye to the bad behavior.
#4 is the saddest one…suicide in innumerable ways.
The question then becomes what can we do to assist and help these individuals to let go of the voices constantly insulting them in the back of their minds? What are the consequences of not helping? Can we prevent these forms of workplace violence (WPV), without the totalitarian method of the future use of drugs to pacify the masses?
For WPV that starts inside a business with employees, the answer is yes, we can lessen the liability of the company and reduce the risk of an incident. It’s not simple nor can it be a one size fits all solution, it takes a multi-disciplinary approach involving every aspect of the business. But it can be done for these kinds of WPV incidents. Or at the very least reduce the likelihood of one;
• Bullying – sometimes the buck up and take it like a man approach simply doesn’t work. Some people handle bullying better than others, but they are still hurtful words involved.
• Harassment – sexual, teasing and all other forms, good natured or not can literally lead to an incident of WPV.
• Verbal assault – from co-workers and customers, the very essence of harmful and hurtful words. It is considered an assault.
In this society we live in – free, we can’t protect everyone from everything, not even from words. Therefore, we have to be as protective as we can and take the steps to lessen the impact or possibility of violence occurring in our organizations. We have to do this without curtailing the freedoms we’ve been granted by the U.S. Constitution.
From the stereotypical ‘angry employee’ to the customer who comes in and begins verbally assaulting everyone and everything in sight, we need to have the training, policies, procedures, and people to stop it. And as I said above, there is no way we can prevent everything and all types of violence in our businesses. It would cost, literally, millions of dollars in financial resources and would entail one possible scenario; having a person trail every single person in the business at all times walking two steps behind.
But those who are there to protect us, or trained to do so, need to know that you are there to back them up and not downgrade or denigrate what they do. If they are in the right, no matter how asinine it may seem, we need to back them up. If they’re wrong, then it’ll be rectified by management (or at least we hope so anyway).
As far as whether an incident can be prevented, we need to look at other possibilities for responsibility other than just the security people. From those making the policies/procedures i.e., human resources & the C-Suite, to the individual managers in charge of their people ignoring warning signs of someone who may turn out to be violent. And of course, the innumerable regulations those businesses are now charged with upholding can be crippling in the fight against crime and violence within the business.
Watch for the 2nd half of these posts next week.
It Happens to Anyone…Any Time…Any Where…For Any Reason
I May Be Blind, but My Vision Is Crystal Clear
Permission to share? Of course, with full attribution.
Copyright 2021 Robert D. Sollars