Verbal Abuse at Work: How to Shoot Yourself in the Foot

No one can afford to turn away potential customers, yet thousands of people are doing just that every day. They are also begging to be fired. Just ask Carol Bartz. You may be familiar with her name. She was hired as CEO of in 2009, and by September, 2011, she was fired. Why? The obvious reason is that the company was not doing well. But there was more: She was fired by telephone, something never done at an executive level where people are paid millions in salary (hers was $1 million plus stock equity of $18 million). So what was going on? According to the Wall Street Journal, Ms. Bartz had “an abrasive CEO style, including her frequent use of swear words.” What does “abrasive” really mean? People who use foul language usually do it in loud tones. They interrupt. They have an angry face, unapproachable body language. Often, it’s accompanied with put-downs, criticism, and name-calling. Was this her behavior? If so, she was verbally abusive. Why would a CEO do that? Abuse Is A Bad Substitute For People Skills When CEOs lack the people skills to explain their positions and win over allies, they get frustrated. Instead of reflecting on how they can accomplish their goals, they flare up, compounding the original problem. All that drama does serve a purpose, though: It distracts others from the substance of the problem, and intimidates them from bringing up their own position. However, the distraction eventually comes to an end as we saw from the headlines that Ms. Bartz and Yahoo! are divorced. It takes great courage for a leader...
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