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Forced to engage in small-talk

Discussion in 'Human Resources' started by Law911, Feb 3, 2021.

  1. Law911

    Law911 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I was asked by my supervisor if I was avoiding saying hello, good morning, and otherwise engaging in small-talk with a specific employee. I truthfully answered, "No more than anybody else." As I customarily avoid small-talk and personal disclosures at work.

    Noting that I have been employed at this company for three years at 2 different locations. With two evaluations noted my inter-personal skills as being exceptional. I am cordial and focused at work. Sometimes, I am busy with patient-care, focused on another matter, or simply irritated and would rather speak when necessary.

    I was told that avoiding this particular employee, in this manner, could be construed as Workplace Violence.

    It seems to me that interrupting someone at work to say "hello" is as logical as waking someone to tell them "goodnight".

    Can I be forced to engage in small-talk?
     
  2. shadowbunny

    shadowbunny Member

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    Of course you can't be "forced" to engage in small talk. However, your employer can fire you for being unpleasant. And refusing to acknowledge a coworker most certainly would fall under the "unpleasant" category.
     
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  3. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    If someone were to kidnap your mother, father, child, sibling, or spouse; then threaten to kill one of the aforementioned people UNLESS you said, "Hello, your majesty, please don't harm ___Insert any name here___"; unless you said the specific phrase; I suppose you've been coerced into engaging in small talk.


    No one can force another person to do anything against her/his will.

    That said, I doubt that anyone could prove you ever heard their greeting or even saw the person claiming to be harmed.

    I rarely engaged in small talk while at work.

    In the army all enlisted soldiers (and officers subordinate to a superior) are required to give the greeting of the day (Good morning, good afternoon, good evening) and offer a salute; while the superior returns the salute and responds with the greeting of the day.

    That is the only small talk I engaged at while serving for 31 years.

    You're not in the army.

    I suggest you do as you've done, remain calm, professional, and allow the supervisor's words to roll off your back as water does on a goose's down.

    If you can't do as I suggested, you are free to report the admonishment and accusation to the correct resource within your employer's chain of hierarchy.
     
  4. Law911

    Law911 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    As mentioned in the question: What is the effect of 1) previous evaluations for exceptional inter-personal skills; 2) interrupting patient-care; and 3) can this be construed as Workplace Violence?
     
  5. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    1: Nada
    2: It is very doubtful that "hello" interrupts patient care in most instances.
    3: It depends on who is doing the construing

    As was pointed out above, you don't HAVE to do what you are told, but not doing so may put your job in jeopardy. Or it may not. Nobody here could intelligently say so either way.
     
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  6. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    Personally I would find a new job if my employer told me that not saying "Hello" constituted "work place violence".
     
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  7. Law911

    Law911 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    2: I work in a busy clinical environment. Yes, at times, moments can matter.
    3: The employer, presumably Human Resources, would construe a Workplace Violence. Is the criteria not well-settled?
     
  8. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    IMO your employer need to educate themselves on what the word "violence" means. Expecting you to pause with a critically ill/injured patient to say "How ya doing today Sam and howz the kiddo's?" is ...effed up.

    My opinion, for what's it's worth, is based on the veracity of what you have posted

    This is what I found when I looked up the legal definition of Virginia workplace violation. This is not a recommendation of the site:

    Workplace Violence - Employment Law | Quinn Law Centers | Quinn Law Centers.

     
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  9. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Yes, at times. Not in most instances. If your coworker is performing some sort of critical procedure that your brief "hello" would distract her from, or if YOU are performing some critical procedure that it would distract you from, then not proffering a brief hello would likely be excused. I'm pretty sure that's not what we're talking about though :rolleyes:

    It doesn't matter. Barring some bona fide employment contract or union contract, then you can be expected to do as you're told, or have it construed as "violence", causing your employment to be terminated.

    Really, step back, let your hackles go back down, and realize that this is not a hill to die on.
     
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  10. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    With such a broad definition, then such actions could be construed as harassment or intimidation. I'm not saying they should be. As described, this sounds asinine, but it also sounds relatively benign. If the brief hello could cause harm to a patient, or some other threat do persons or property, then of course, it should not be said. I'm pretty sure what we're talking about is actually some workplace drama wherein one person is perceived as snubbing another...not that they're being required to stop the chest compressions so they can turn and say "hello".
     
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  11. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    sigh...I have had many job's. In Massachusetts no less...Massachusetts with our "snowflake" ways and "bleeding heart" sensibilities. I have worked with many standoffish people over the years and never would perceived not being acknowledged as a violent act. But that's me I guess.

    I would say adiós to any employer that accused me of workplace violence for simply being quiet/unfriendly/unsocial/too distracted by the arterial blood gushing over my hand. ;)
     
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  12. shadowbunny

    shadowbunny Member

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    Employing the "silent treatment" with your coworkers most likely IS seen as hostile. Because frankly, it is. From your description is doesn't sound like your HR expects you to actually engage in conversation; they just expect you to treat your coworkers with a modicum of respect by acknowledging them.
     
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  13. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    What you described could be construed as unfriendly (particularly since you appear to be singling out one person for this treatment), but only someone who doesn't understand the meaning of "violence" could construe what you described as "workplace violence."

    Nope. But you can be fired without consequence to the employer (unless you're a member of a union or have a contract that limits your employer's ability to fire you).

    Previous evaluations do not impact your employer's ability to fire you.

    Obviously, if saying "hello" to Joe Schmoe would be detrimental to some care you're administering it, then you ought not do it.

    "Violence" is not a term that has a particular legal meaning, but it is an easily understood English language word that, under no circumstances, could be reasonably construed to include not saying "hello" to Jo Blow. That said, no law prohibits an employer from behaving unreasonably in a circumstance such as this. If your employer wants to regard red and yellow as the same thing, it may legally do so.
     
  14. cbg

    cbg Super Moderator

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    Dear God, if the biggest problem you have in your workplace is that your employer wants you to say Hello to Joe or Josie in the morning and Goodnight to them at night and you don't want to, you're a very lucky person. Say hello to Joe and goodnight to Josie and think about well-known phrases regarding molehills and mountains.
     
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  15. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    That is beyond stupid. I doubt I could withhold a wide grin if someone said that in my presence.

    Force is probably is not the right word. It seems you are just being encouraged to be a little more friendly, or less isolated than you have been.
     
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  16. Disabled Vet

    Disabled Vet Well-Known Member

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    What?? Because a person doesn't say "Hello" "Goodbye" it is Hostile? I think people need to worry about themselves. If a person doesn't want to say jack to someone it is their business. Anyone that thinks it is hostile should move to another planet. Maybe change their diaper....
     
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  17. flyingron

    flyingron Well-Known Member

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    You can be treated adversely or sanctioned for your disposition. Fair or not, it's not illegal. Unless the treatment rises to some level of discrimination based on sex, race, religion or whatever, they're free to set arbitrary standards that have nothing to do with work output.
     
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  18. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    And sometimes things that may seem arbitrary or unimportant are actually significant to the employer and how the company functions. Some employers, for example, find it easier to retain employees when they cultivate a certain culture at work — a place where people want to show up and work. Encouraging staff to be friendly or at least cordial to each other helps to foster a pleasant place to work. Employees who wish to stay at such an employer need to attune themselves to that company culture and try to fit in, even if their natural disposition would be to do something else.
     
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