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Chapter 11. Indentifying the Venomous Di... > Techniques of the Viper - Pg. 113

Indentifying the Venomous Difficult Employee The second type, the more subtle attack, is trickier. So let's look at some examples. 113 Consider a meeting where Mary stands up, and says, "If you really knew what you were doing, you would...." Is this an attack? Is it abuse? Absolutely. Why? It's an insult, although it's framed in such a way that it is somewhat indirect. It really says, "You don't know what you are doing because you aren't doing what I want." It's an accusation couched in a tricky language format. Here's another one, Mary again. Mary stands up, directs her gaze at you, and says, "Most of us really want to succeed here and work hard to make it work. It's too bad we aren't appreciated." Wow. What about this one? Is it abuse? Yep! It's really dirty pool. The attack (on you and your nonrecognition) is implied by the words and the eye contact. What's really dirty is it is an attack dressed up in what might appear to be a compliment concerning the rest of the staff. It's not. People who use this kind of sneaky tactic aren't doing it for fun. There's intent here. Want another one? What about nonverbal attacks? In this example (again a meeting), Mary doesn't say anything. She sighs loudly and rolls her eyes when you speak. Finally she gets up and walks out of the meeting you are chairing and doesn't come back for 30 minutes. You make the mistake of asking her why she left. She says, "I had something important to do." Again, pretty nasty. First, there's the nonverbal behavior done in such a way that other people can't miss it. Second, her statement of having something important to do implies that the meeting, and by extension, you, are NOT important. But she didn't actually say that with her words. However, everyone knows exactly what she has done and implied. From the Manager's Desk Be particularly alert to the more subtle attacks. Often our first response to them is one of uncertainty or disbelief. These more subtle attacks are no less abusive than a person telling you to "bleep off." Do these sound familiar? How do you handle abuse, whether it be directed at you or at another employee? What's your first priority? Your first priority is to stop the abusive behavior immediately. You can't allow someone to take shots at you or at another person, because doing nothing implies that such actions are acceptable. You can't do nothing because that makes you appear weak to the abuser and to anyone observing the process. Your first step is to communicate what's acceptable and not acceptable and make a clear request. For example: "We've all agreed that personal attacks aren't permitted at our meetings. As the manager I have a responsibility to everyone, and I'm not going to allow insults, bad language, or similar behavior. Now, let's get back to the issue." A second option involves setting a limit and specifying consequences if the limit isn't observed. If the abusive behavior occurs in a staff meeting, here's how you might handle it.