There is a new weapon in the work place I found out, and it packs a punch. No, this is not the kind of device that you set and you can then take over the world with and everyone then has to pay you a hundred bucks. No, this is not the kind of instrument the you can wield around and do physical damage with, or take down all of your enemies with in a single blow. This is the “pour it on thick with kindness” if your co-workers are not on the same page with you, and then when their guard is down, you have them in the palm of your hands. This is the tool, intent masked in kindness.
I discovered this truly evil tactic about ten years ago while working for an American Big Box Store where everyone was supposed to play on the same team, work together and we all had the same goal. I noticed that after my eighth year working there that management staff all of a sudden change their way of communicating with the employees. It was not even subtle, but abrupt, and it took everyone by surprise. It was very effective, and it took many who were working there several months to catch on as to what was going on. But the lessons I learned from it were extremely negative because the goal was to foster communications, but instead it became a new weapon in persuasion by the management staff. It was not long after that I quit that job because it was killing me both mentally and physically, but I took a lot of those tools with me when I left.
Today, in my current position, the same tactic is being applied by both management and the workers; however, there is a catch to this new version, it pours on the act of kindness as a well intended method of reacting to a particular situation, then lures the recipient into a sense of hope, but that is only a cover. If you are the person who is acting out, say, requesting a favour then you would increase your kindness if the person who you are communicating to become more negative. Then when you have reached the point of which there is no point in going forward with your request, then you appeal to the next level of management above you and state your case, a now well intentioned case. You now have the one tool in your arsenal that has teeth – you can now say that you tried everything in your power of politeness to achieve your goal and the other person acted out negatively in turn. Who would not be in favour of your argument with your politeness and kindness and none abrasive actions?
Now, everyone uses it, and it becomes second nature. Even the reaction to it has lost its meaning. Emotions are now buried with this mask of politeness and we have devolved into 14 century noblemen with over classed forms of etiquette that now makes the a work a more dangerous place to be.
And I bet you asking yourself why this would make the workplace a more dangerous place to be? Simple, it is the intent. You now have conceived a means of trapping your counterpart into a situation that only leaves two options, yes or no. So kindness becomes a new form of work place violence. Your actions, the act of kindness, now is a tool for acting as a substitute for a wide spectrum of existing workplace conduct that fosters a negative environment. Giving praise now becomes a code for insulting or manipulating someone into doing something, with the cover of kindness. With the use of positive buzz-words, this would ensure that anyone outside the workplace would only be able to take the words into context of what was said, they then would only see what the generalized meaning of it instead of the true intended meaning. For example, “good for you, keep it up,” would really translate into, “you are an idiot, and if you keep that up your job will be toast shortly.”
So, instead of swearing and using demanding vocabulary, you react with praise and well scripted phrases of praise. Like street slang, positive words now have negative meanings within the confines of this small group. Anyone who was looking from the outside would be totally confused to this language, and would probably be confused as to the real under lying meaning of what is really going on.