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11. Ethical Corporate Citizenship
Verbally Abusive Behavior
60 to 90 minutes
OVERVIEW
Participants are encouraged to think about the ethical ramifications of verbally
abusive behavior/situations in the work environment.
PURPOSE
To make participants aware of how verbally abusive behaviors affect job
performance, organizational perspectives, and interpersonal relationships.
GROUP SIZE
Ideal group size is 18 to 20 participants.
ROOM ARRANGEMENT
Select a room large enough for a subgroup to break out. Set up the main work area
in a “U” shape, allowing room for the facilitator to enter the “U” and be in the
middle of the discussions.
MATERIALS
Overhead projector
Transparencies 11.1 through 11.7 showing questions
Tape for hanging the flipchart sheets on the wall
Magic markers
Post-it
notes (3 x 3 size), in bright colors if possible
Flipchart with the activity headings written at the top of each page. (As the
pages are completed, they should be hung on the wall for viewing.)
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Headings and set-up for flipchart sheets:
WHAT DOES THIS
COMMUNICATE TO
THOSE WORKING IN
THE ORGANIZATION?
GROUND RULES
HOW DID THIS MAKE
YOU FEEL?
How did this experience
affect...
YOUR
WORK
YOUR
HOME LIFE
WHAT ARE WE
GOING TO DO TO
ENSURE THAT WE
ARE NOT
CONTRIBUTING
TO THE BEHAVIOR?
HOW DOES IT
AFFECT HOW WE
VIEW OUR
ORGANIZATION?
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PROCEDURE
1. Spend the first 5 minutes establishing ground rules with participants. These
rules encourage a more open environment, permitting individuals to share
without feeling they are overstepping bounds. The rules might deal with
confidentiality, for example: “What is shared in the room stays in the room”
and “No names—company or people.”
2. Show the first transparency question, “How many of you have witnessed
verbally abusive situations in your workplace? Ask participants to pair up to
share their experiences with one another for 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Next, facilitate a discussion for approximately 10 minutes by inviting the
group as a whole to share experiences. Use the question on the second
transparency (“How many of you have personally experienced verbal
abuse?”) to stimulate the discussion. Note: Be prepared for emotions to
surface during this part of the exercise. Intercede if you observe any
participant becoming emotional; say something like: “Before you finish, let
me share with you an experience of my own” to allow the participant to
compose him- or herself. Of course, you could also ask, “Would you prefer to
tell us the rest of this terrible story later?”
4. Proceed to the next question on the next transparency, “How did this make
you feel?” Have a flipchart sheet ready with the same heading at the top. This
part of the exercise calls for participants to answer the question individually
and silently. Instruct them to write their feelings on the Post-it
notes (one
comment per sheet). Invite participants to share what they’ve written and then
to hang the Post-it
notes on the flipchart sheet. Facilitate any discussion that
takes place at this time.
5. Show the next transparency on the overhead and ask the question, “How did
this affect your work?” The flipchart page will be set up as a “T” chart with
“Your Home Life” covered up at this time. This part of the exercise has
participants working alone. Instruct them to write their comments on the Post-
it
notes (one per sheet). After a few minutes, invite the participants to share
what they’ve written and then to hang the Post-it
notes on the flipchart sheet.
Facilitate any discussion that takes place at this time.
6. Show the next transparency and ask the question, “How did this affect your
home life?” Uncover the right side of the “T” chart on the flipchart titled,
Your Home Life. This portion of the exercise, once again, is completed
individually. Instruct the participants to write their comments on the Post-it
notes (one per sheet). Encourage discussion among participants of what
they’ve written and then invite them to hang the Post-it
notes on the flipchart
sheet.

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