You go for a job interview and receive the call that the job is yours. You are filled with appreciation, excitement and an increased level of self confidence. You arrive for work and are shown to your desk or office and for the first week everything seems to be going well. Your boss shows you the ropes and explains what needs to be done on a daily basis. In no time you are able to perform to the standard that is required. A short time later you are told that you need to create a permanent place for yourself within the company and "something" for yourself so that you become indispensable. Following this one-sided discussion. a day passes and your supervisor or manager is on your back again about something else. You are berated, made to feel less than, and in some extreme cases even sworn at.
What do you make of this? is this abuse? is this a case of an indecisive manager? Are you at fault? On the one hand you may need to keep this job; on the other hand, the mixed messages that you have been constantly receiving can cause much damage to ones self-esteem. Such "communication" smacks of disrespect and poor communication skills.
The definition of communication according to the Oxford dictionary is "The imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium." Of course this does not say anything about kindness, fairness or decency for other people. It is merely the ability to impart information from one person to another. However, if the message is constantly mixed up and unclear; or whether a task is completed by you satisfactorily and you are not commended for the effort or for completing the task, then where did the lines of communication become blurred or non-existent? What is the point in developing and nurturing a long-standing business relationship with this type of person?
Where does this end? When do you finally decide that you have been sufficiently abused and mistreated and that the time has come to simply walk away?
A business is unable to expand without everyone pulling in the same direction. It becomes difficult though, when the customers are treated well by this person, who belittles his or her staff. What is even worse is when customers happen to be in the vicinity while you are being scolded. Putting aside the fact that you are an employee, even if you were to pull the manager aside and speak frankly about the fact that you will not be treated this way, will possibly only make matters worse. The fact is that you are in a catch-22 position. In other words, and as the story seems to be going, "damned if you do and damned if you don't." At times you may kick yourself and try to gear yourself up to say to this bully "I quit!" but on the other hand where is the sense in that?
The answer is not as cut and dried as we all like to think. Quitting a job, just like saying goodbye to a loved one or being placed in very emotionally challenging situations can teach us a lot about our own character. We are able to learn very valuable lessons from these scenarios. However, what is concerning is the fact that some people seem to have lost their compassion, that can be very useful, not only when creating friendships, but also in business. Communicate effectively and a message will be decoded in the way you intend. Use emotion and power in a message, and it would seem that at least one party gets hurt or offended! Is it unethical to communicate this way in business?
Michelle is a speech and communication specialist working with companies and individuals in South Africa and internationally.