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When you scream at someone, minds all around shut down

“The mere thought of being on the receiving end of verbal abuse hurts people’s ability to perform complex tasks requiring creativity, flexibility, and memory recall” announces research reported in the Harv. Bus. Rev., Vol. 86, March 2008 at 21. One explanation for the degradation of cognitive performance is that after exposure to rudeness, people think hard about the incident and those thoughts steal cognitive resources from other tasks. Abusive language has toxic effects. Worse, it harms innocent bystanders, something analogous to the deleterious effects of second-hand smoke. A lacerating tongue has no place in a worthy legal department.

This blog has returned several times to the subject of bad behavior by managers (See my posts of Dec. 21, 2005: emotional intelligence declines with rank;.Jan. 13, 2006: trio of consequences of managerial incompetence; Feb. 15, 2006: ten dumbest things GCs can do; June 21, 2006: anger in men and women; March 18, 2007: GCs who are bad managers; Dec. 31, 2006: the “imperial” general counsel; Feb. 7, 2007: men and anger; Aug. 4, 2007: permit no jerks; Aug. 10, 2007: personality disorders among GCs; and Jan. 19, 2008: if the GC is a bully.).

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