sexta-feira, 21 de agosto de 2009

Social aggression in the workplace

You'll inevitably be a victim someday;
hope and pray that you won't become an aggressor.

Although most people are especially concerned about aggression among children, such as bullying in school, hostility among adults has always been a serious issue, specially in the workplace. There are many forms of social aggression including isolation, exclusion and humillation. Whatever form it takes, it is always a pain in the neck from the victim's perspective. My stance on the issue is that there should be more welfare assistance available in workplaces, including physicologists at the employees' disposal, not to mention that there should be harsher punishment for aggressors, including dismissal on the grounds of misconduction.

Early in this semester, I've been absent from one important class for a couple of days. I was suffering from lack of motivation. While some of my classmates had been wondering if I was sick or something alike, I knew that my case needed special consideration. One week before, I had gotten into an angry argument with a full professor in occasion of a test review in her office. As soon as I got there, she was already in a terrible mood, shouting to everyone in the room that we (students) were fools for having been there only to "bother" her. When I finally had the chance of asking her what I did wrong in the test, she ruthlessly shout at me for supposedly not having been able to do something I should have learned (in her words) "in the high school" and stated that she was the one who had a PhD there. It turned out that she was completely mistaken about her assessment on the answer I had provided in the test and, even worse, I felt myself humillated in front of my colleagues.

It seemed to me that people don't realize how devastating such unpleasent episodes can be for the victims. In my case, my productivity levels were seriously affected, whereas, on the physicological aspect, I began to suffer from stress and a fit of mild depression. Moreover it was by no means easy to get over the trauma. At that time, there were nobody who I could rely on to ask for advice. The university simply couldn't offer me any support. That's the big problem victms have to face: the lack of someone well prepared to help them.

On the other hand, one has to consider the causes which lead someone else to behave aggressively. It could be that the aggressor had been him/her-self a victm in the past. This would be simply a case of the past repeating itself. I really want to emphasize that, in such situations, the best thing to do is to develop a prevention strategy by offering the victm the proper assistance, at the risk of allowing hatred remembrances to dominate one's mind.

What is most disapointing about this is that both strategies are often neglected by the working and/or learning staff: neither victms get (or know where to look for) assistance, nor aggressors are punished (or even investigated) in order to bring an end to such hostile attitude. While it's an open question whether any of those schemes would bring real benefits for the parts involved, I sincerely believe that both should be seriously considered in a wide effort to eradicate the plague of social aggression.

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