Is A Supervisor’s Angry Rant Verbal Abuse?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about trainer’s dismay over class:

A supervisor/instructor voiced extreme anger about his employer with comments of “I don’t want to teach the class and I feel like walking out.” Later he made the remark that he “didn’t think anyone in class would pass the test.”Does that constitute verbal abuse?

Signed, Wondering

Dear Wondering:

No, this does seem to rise to the level of verbal abuse. The supervisor sounds as though he was angry and didn’t have a lot of confidence in either his teaching, the training situation, or the ability of the students to learn. But apparently he did not threaten anyone or call them derogatory names.This is the type of situation that seems to reflect poorly on the supervisor’s good judgement, and you may want to let someone in authority know about it. The supervisor might very well get in trouble for unprofessionalism.

However, I urge you also to consider the totality of the situation and the supervisor’s usual demeanor. For example, if the supervisor is usually a decent person who is supportive and helpful, but was frustrated over the lack of advance notice about presenting a class and felt the students wouldn’t be able to learn what was needed, maybe you’ll want to give him a break, just as you would want one in a similar circumstance. But, if you know this supervisor is often angry and verbal about it, and his intent was to humiliate the students by saying that he felt everyone in the class was lacking in intelligence, then perhaps you will want to say something to see to it that doesn’t happen again. If you do, use exact quotes and list witnesses and their reactions. Best wishes as you decide what to do about this situation.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.