Dealing with Employees/my boss

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Question
My father came to my work and I stepped over to say hi  to him my manager came up behind me and told me to get the f*** out of the window as I turned around to speak to her she proceeded to  say that I and they never should have made me a crew trainer and I needed to learn how to do my f-ing job turned around and continued to take orders There was a posting on Facebook that was not about her she came into work and told my other manager that I had messaged her and told them  and told them if they did not do anything about it then she would take matters into her own hands and have her doughter kick my ass my manager said that she did not car as long as it did not happen on the property and that's she did not hurt me so bad that I could not come into work . I wrote a letter stating that it was unprofessional and un appropriat and they needed to do something befor I get hurt ... They brought me back a letter  that said that they told her not to speak to me unprofessional anymor and no disciplinary action was take towards her...she is my boss so she has access to my personal info my house location, what hrs I work, and what car I drive...I had to call in sick today bc I'm scared of what she's going to have done to me and I will have to quite for my safety ...what can I do

Answer
Hi Sara;

I am sorry that verbal abuse is so often inflicted for the slightest of incidents, even where no malice was intended. I also understand that the stress people suffer under rushed situations sometimes comes from their feelings of being caught between professional responsibilities and being polite to those they work with and should treat better. So an emotional outburst often turns to a threat instead of a polite request.

Before we deal with the threat to your safety, which is my main concern, look at the situation as a movie rather than an isolated event. What has led to the outburst and the threat? If the incident occurred at the window then it likely a fast-food or other service industry and if this is correct, the window area is the customer service center for rapid action. Was it a very busy time of the day? Does your supervisor think you should be working faster and harder to earn the “promotion” of a crew trainer?

If your supervisor is under stress it can come from many directions. Your supervisor is responsible not just for the smooth operation to satisfy customers but managing all the people who work during the times she is on site. Everyone is looking, adding additional stress. Most people don’t handle stress very well and under stress we speak without thinking and this can cause hurtful language.

Aside from the pressure your supervisor might suffer there is really no excuse for the level of verbal abuse leading to a callous threat regarding your safety. The excuse for threatening you and now you fear has prevented you from going to work. There is likely not enough evidence to go directly to a lawyer for a workplace harassment suit (I do not know this for certain) but clearly the Human Resources Department of the company with which you work is the next step. If you don’t go to work they you will be fired for failure to maintain your assigned schedule and your manager will get the satisfaction he or she may want at this time.

The decision is of course yours, but decide if you believe the threat was real and there is a legitimate danger to your safety. If you believe this to be true then go to HR and explain. They have an obligation to deal with this situation responsibly and with a sense of urgency. They will talk to the people involved (who will likely not tell the truth but as they remember it under busy conditions) and in an attempt to get the facts the people at work may take sides. You also need to decide how well liked you are at work and if people will be truthful or are they afraid of the manager. You will also be asked if the manager is a general bully in the workplace and/or is rude to others you work with daily.

The Human Relations Department will be concerned with your needs and also the fear of legal action if you are not helped to your satisfaction. Begin by writing down everything that has happened and in the order they occurred, the best of your memory. As you have already filed a written complaint the process is already in motion.

Concern for your safety is first.

Second, we can explore how to better manage your working relationship with your manager. It is clearly now strained but that does not mean unsalvageable. Your manager may accept he or she should not have said anything rude or threatening; and accept their own guilt but that is a far distance from an apology for the offense. An apology means to admit the statement and the threat and that will place him or her at risk of being fired.

Self-protection is a force of the mind that will cause people to do strange things and some even uncharacteristic of their basic nature. Honest people will lie, and a mistake can be compounded by more poor actions later. You manager may now resent you and will perhaps even give you the proverbial “cold-shoulder” at work due to the embarrassment of having acted poorly.   In can get worse as your manager might even begin to defend their actions and undermine you at work in a hope to get you to quit. This is why you need to document everything and you cannot wait to speak with HR.

If not for the threat to your safety I would recommend other options but if I write here to work it out and the threat was from malice then I have given you poor advice. If there was no real threat and only a really stupid statement spoken at a moment of anger under stress then it will blow over. You will need to decide.

If your decision is to go back to work now or after speaking with HR then I can offer some tactics to try and repair the damage. I would like you to contact me again after you have made your decision.

I wish the best outcome for you.

Lee Fjelstad, Vice President of the Verbal Judo Institute, Inc.
With respect and in memory of Dr. George J. Thompson, PhD., Creator of Verbal Judo
www.VerbalJudo.info  

Dealing with Employees

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Lee Fjelstad

Expertise

I can answer questions on resolving professional and personal conflicts or communication issues in the workplace, with clients, in the home, or any encounter that needs or requires people conform to authority or common goal. My responses will be centered on tactics for getting more from the people around you and directed toward gaining their voluntary compliance, cooperation, or collaboration. Please note that the answers will not be in the form of a “Dear Abbey” response and my personal opinions will rarely be offered, but rather a soft or hard argument toward resolving the issue or demonstrating that words alone will not solve your dilemma or predicament. A web site with references and a partial client list is available upon request.

Experience

I am the Vice President of the Verbal Judo Institute, Inc., and for the last twenty years I have traveled between 200 -300 days annually conducting training seminars on Verbal Judo in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, and in England. I specialize in resolving conflicts that rise from workplace differences and highly charged emotional situations that impact cooperation and compliance, and how to deliver or receive bad news and communicate effectively through the issues that typically block the proper delivery or receiving of information in both professional and personal relationships.

Publications
I have been interviewed regarding Verbal Judo as the subject in magazine articles ranging in interest from Conde Nast Traveler, Broker Magazine, and sports publications like Referee Magazine; to newsprint articles in the USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and over one hundred local print and online newspapers. I have been broadcast internationally on CNN; nationally on NBC, ABC, and Fox; in Canada on CBC; numerous local television stations; and interviewed on radio across North America and in Europe. In addition to the video clips I am currently producing, the President of the Institute, Dr. George J. Thompson, Ph.D., has four published books on the market (with more in current development) and several audio and video programs.

Education/Credentials
My educational background includes degrees in English, Business, and Organizational Communication with additional work in Psychology and Behavioral Science.

Past/Present Clients
From executives in corporate offices to front line staff in customer service industries, my clients are people in city, county, and the federal government; airline and cruise lines; banking; real estate operations; universities; and referees in professional sports. My audiences number several hundred thousand people attending Verbal Judo lectures world-wide and as a company our associates have collectively trained over one million people.

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