The Subtle Art of Browbeating & Naysaying

Bullying in the workplace will be made illegal across Australia soon; however, I don’t believe that bullying is the only real issue here. It is not unlawful and will never be to subtly browbeat or naysay. I think this misbehavior will only grow as overt bullying is made illegal.

Everyone knows that explicit bullying is wrong and considered misbehavior, and it is pretty hard to get away with it nowadays. In my opinion, subtle browbeating or micro-bullying is much more common. I bet you don’t even know when you are doing it, and yes, we all have done it before. No one’s perfect.

Browbeating and Naysaying Examples:

  • “How did you even get hired here?”
  • “Here we go again, been there done that.”
  • “I’ve been in this field for over 20 years…”
  • “Erk! Really Einstein! We’ve heard all this before.”
  • “You’ll never be able to do this. It’s too difficult for you.”
  • “You’re always making mistakes. Can’t you do anything right?”
  • “If you can’t handle this, maybe you’re just not cut out for the job.”
  • “You’re a troublemaker and will be stirring up a hornet’s nest…!”
  • “Don’t rock the boat!”
  • “That will never work. It’s too complicated.”
  • “You’re wasting your time trying to do that.”
  • “Why even bother? It’s not worth the effort.”
  • “That’s a terrible idea. It’s bound to fail.”

What is wrong with these, you might ask? They may be right in their predictions, but they are still subtly browbeating in my book. Why? Because of the following signs:

Subtle signs to look out for:

  • Labeling or name calling.
  • Being dogmatic using exclamations while being “oh-so-right”.
  • Use of absolute language.
  • Telling others how they should behave.
  • Slightly raised tone and volume in their delivery.
  • Failure to emphasize its only their opinion.
  • Use of rhetorical questions.
  • Little or no reasoning or rational is used to back up their case.

My solution is to use a real-time intervention toolkit called SpatzAI that protects individual team members in real-time and direct from this subtle browbeating misbehavior.

Once agreed to by all the team and management, it is activated by using a verbal caution prompt when one spots the signs (we can intuitively feel when we are being browbeaten). If unresolved, then sending them an official objection for their misbehavior using the Spatz three-step intervention app, Spatz Peer Review Network and using the Spatz AI to collate and monitor the data.

But already there may be some of you reading this using browbeating and naysaying thinking in your mind right now, ha!

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