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R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Find out what it means to me…

I was a little impressed with the ‘Respectful Workplace Training’ we had today. The guy who gave the class (I don’t remember his name, unfortunately), was really good. There was a lot of humor involved, and a lot of questions and quizzes. This made it highly interactive rather than just a lecture.

The failing of classes of this sort is usually that a lot of people (including those who MOST need to hear it) treat it as a joke and not take it seriously. In this class, they acknowledged this tendency right in the beginning. ‘That’s your Right,’ they said. Then they talked about how this was a legal issue that they were required by law to follow up on if and when it was reported. Then they talked about the impact it has on the harasser, the harassed, their manager(s), and their co-workers when an investigation takes place. Then they said, ‘If we have to pull you aside to talk to you about these issues, after you’ve already taken this training…’

These points were both subtly and overtly re-enforced throughout the hour and a half class. Let me tell you, unlike the reactions at my last office to this type of class, NO ONE left THIS room today joking about how stupid the training was.

Discrimination and Violence were also talked about. The violence bit I hadn’t seen covered in a class of this type before. I mean, I’ve had mediation training, so most of what they were talking about was fairly familiar to me. If someone is upset and hostile and possibly threatening violence – your goal is to calm them down and get them out the door.

You don’t calm someone down by ignoring them, patronizing them, treating them like an idiot, dismissing their concerns, or pretending you understand them when you don’t. You listen, find out what the problem is and acknowledge that you can see why they might be upset about that, and then figure out what you can do about it.

To me, this is both basic mediation, AND basic customer service… People in CS who treat their customers like idiots or give rote answers that don’t answer the question I’m actually asking REALLY irritate me.

People who are upset want to be heard and acknowledged, YO.

There were a few interesting statistics also. 80% of all workplace violence is committed by complete outsiders. Not disgruntled former workers. Not unhappy customers. Not friends or family or current workers, etc. COMPLETE outsiders. No warning on those.

When we got to the section on harassment, they let us know that YES, women are harassed roughly twice as often as men. (Bloody patriarchal society we still live in.) I nearly laughed out loud when they got to the example of ‘well what if you use these words’ and proceeded to come out with a bunch of the most commonly used insults homo-phobic people tend to use. Not because it was funny… but because I LOOK at that ALL DAY LONG in the reports I’m tending to for my job. OK to use? HAHAHAHAHA. *ahem* NO.

All in all – it was the best class of this type I’ve ever attended (I’ve been to a few), and I rather enjoyed it. La! Off to sleepytime with me now, if the insomnia will give me a night off.

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