Compliments of Rob Chandanais via Flickr

Compliments of Rob Chandanais via Flickr

Shame is an emotion we remember from when we were small. If we were shamed as children into doing certain things – or, for not doing others, we experience the feelings of “badness” we inherit as hurtful.

Brené Brown suggests that shamed individuals (as a result of their conditioning), grow to believe that they themselves are subpar. “Bad” people, in contrast to others not so deigned, feel unentitled to speak their viewpoints, defend themselves from attack, eschew unjust blame, appear assertive in conversation, or allow themselves to be anything other than steamrolled at the office.

Managers who use the “shaming” technique end up with compliant whipped pups, people who nod like bobble heads in company meetings and in private encounters. If shaming begins with a manager, then his/her intact esteem puts him or her in the one-up position. If not, then supervisors are simply passing along bad managerial practice trickled down through hierarchical levels.

To stop the work related chain letter of repeated abuse, managers must first realize what a profound impact they have on their direct reports. Wide spans of control suggest that bosses are inundated with employees, but that their workers in turn have only one superior. If that’s the case, then anything a supervisor says and does carries tremendous weight.

A god like pronouncement of “bad” is not one you have the privilege to make. As managers, your only warranted evaluation is in the area of work performance. Remember too that you are not a parent at work, employees are not progeny or puppies, and that the workplace is in fact not your own personal domain. It is simply rented space in which you are only passing through. Leave an auric residue of positivity, so that when people enter they feel your company is a place in which they wish to remain.


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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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