15 Ways You Might be Verbally Abusing Your Employees Without Even Realising

May 23, 2016
Types of verbal abuse

We’ve been talking about bullying in the workplace a lot recently. From the 8 most common workplace bully personalities, to the 4 things you might be doing as a manager that encourages bullying, I think it’s clear by now that the team here at People® are pretty anti-bullying.

Today, our journey looks at a very interesting chart published on VerbalAbuseJournals.com, which lists 15 types of verbal abuse. This article was originally designed to help victims of verbal abuse identify what they are going through, but I think it can serve as a really useful guide for helping you, as a role model for your team or workforce, to keep yourself in check regarding how you communicate.

Remember that all of these forms of verbal abuse can create serious psychological damage if you are unleashing them

Abuse Disguised as a Joke

Do you tell jokes that make your employees feel helpless or humiliated? Sure, they might laugh… but this is probably only so other people don’t think they are a bad sport. If you’re making jokes that rely on individual flaws or traits of another person’s personality, then they’re probably not very good jokes.

Abusive Anger
Do you throw a tantrum with your staff whenever you get angry? Instead of communicating rationally and clearly, you shout, stamp, get in people’s face or even break things. This doesn’t even need any further explanation – it’s just bad. Really bad.

Accusing And Blaming
When somebody suggests that you have done something wrong, do you immediately try to deflect the blame and responsibility to somebody else? This is an awful habit, and you should work hard on telling yourself that mistakes are not the end of the world. In fact, we learn from mistakes, and admitting blame does not make us bad people.

Blocking And Diverting
Do you ever stop other people from finishing their sentences or reaching the point they’re trying to make? Perhaps you always feel as if you know where this is going, and maybe you butt in when you don’t like the ending you’ve predicted. Whatever the reasons, constantly preventing a person from getting their point across is classed as verbal abuse, and is just plain rude.

If you constantly refuse to accept what people say to you, then you are “countering”. This is not the same as simply disagreeing, as you are essentially refusing to accept a person’s point without even considering whether you agree.

You are giving out this form of verbal abuse if you deny anything and everything. It is very similar to countering, but instead of only countering viewpoints, you are denying pretty much anything that can be denied. Unhealthy habit, stop it.

Deprivation Or Withholding
This type of verbal abuse is when you give a person little to no verbal communication. Perhaps you are distancing yourself from somebody, for example by not speaking to or acknowledging them.

This is when you make everything that a person says seem irrelevant. You discount their opinions and suggestions to the point where they feel less important and stop bothering to provide any input.

You should make an effort to remember important events for your employees. Forgetting things like performance reviews, promises you’ve made, or even birthdays, could make your employees feel less important, and is a loose type of verbal abuse.

Judging And Criticising
If you constantly judge and criticise a person’s actions, they will stop trying to impress you. And they’ll feel awful. Use positive reinforcement instead of pointing out flaws.

Name Calling
Just what the name says it is – you call people names. This is the most commonly understood form of verbal abuse.

Ordering And Demanding
Do you constantly expect your employees to do exactly as you say, and exactly when you say it? Naturally a little direction and guidance is required in any management role, but being bossy and demanding is not the best way forward.

Threatening Behaviour And Words
This is another commonly-understood type of verbal abuse, and can border on physical violence. If you’re acting this way at work you probably need to consider anger management.

Do you make real accomplishments seem small? This is very similar to discounting, and involves making molehills out of mountains. Instead, try rewarding achievements!

This is when you go behind a person’s back to sabotage something they have done.

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