How not to pull a Mr. Met
Unless you’re an ultimate fighter, aggression has no place in the workplace.
Earlier this week, an interaction with a fan seemed to have sent the Mets mascot Mr. Met into a finger flipping frenzy. A Twitter user captured video of the characteristically convivial baseball personality flashing him an “F—you” inside one of the stadium’s tunnels. The organization issued an apology, and Mr. Met, will be hanging up the tiny hat that tops his oversized baseball head.
This is far from an isolated incident of celebrity aggression: In May, when conservative pundit Jeffrey Lord was explaining to Anderson Cooper why he doesn’t care that President Trump referred to James Comey as a “nut job,” Cooper — clearly frustrated — responded, “If he took a dump on his desk, you would defend it.” And in April, Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard was suspended for three matches and fined for cursing and fighting with a fan. And in one of the most famous incidents of celebrity aggression, Christian Bale delivered a profanity-laden rant at a staffer on the set of Terminator Salvation in 2009. All have since apologized.
These kinds of aggressive incidents — which can take many forms, from interruptions and verbal abuse to sexual abuse and passive aggressive behavior — aren’t just the domain of celebrities. According to the United States Department of Labor, approximately two million people throughout the country are victims of non-fatal violence at the workplace every year.
The aggression can come from anywhere: A 2014 survey conducted by Workplace Bullying Institute found that 40.1% of people bullied at work are targeted by an individual with a higher rank, such as a boss or manager, 7.1% by a subordinate, and the rest by someone at their level.
So what should you do if you’re a victim of workplace aggression? Signe Whitson, the author of “The Angry Smile: The New Psychological Study of Passive-Aggressive Behavior at Home, at School, in Marriages & Close Relationships” recommends people, if they can, refrain from engaging in no-win, passive-aggressive conflict cycles. “The most important skill has to do with prevention; because the passive aggressive person derives secondary pleasure out of getting others to act out of the anger they are secretly harboring.”
If that doesn’t work, Preston Ni, writing for Psychology Today has seven suggestions.
- Keep cool and maintain composure
- Keep your distance and keep your options open
- Depersonalize and shift from reactive to proactive
- Know your fundamental human rights
- Put the spotlight on them and reclaim your power
- In mild situations, display superior composure through appropriate humor
- In serious situations, set consequences to compel cooperation<
Victims also must carve out time for “relaxation and decompression time to avoid self-destruction in the workplace,” says Los Angeles psychiatrist Kirsten Thompson. “When stressed at work, it’s even more important to spend time doing things that restore us.”
And finally, if the issue gets really bad, there is legal protection against bullying in the workplace, says Andreea Boier, Chief Talent Officer at Kairos Ventures.
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