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The Psychological Train of Pain Runs through Many Workplaces

The Psychological Train of Pain Runs through Many Workplaces

“The pain train is coming,” shouts Terry Tate, famous Super Bowl commercial character and designated Office Linebacker who gives out the pain to employees who do not follow office policies.

He works in an office where written employee reprimands have been traded in for midair, bone-crushing football tackles.

In one famous scene Tate shouts, “You kill the joe, you make some mo” after he jump tackles the office jerk who just took the last cup of coffee without brewing more for his coworkers.  He finishes off many of his downright physical disciplinary sessions with a loud train sound, “woo woo!”

“When it’s game time, it’s pain time,” says Tate to his coworkers who sometimes try to frantically and hopelessly run from the overpowering athlete suited up in a football uniform and assigned an office cubicle too small for his ego.

These scenes make for hilariously funny television commercials but it’s not funny when the pain train arrives each day in the form of emotional terrorism by brutal managers and coworkers.

Workplace abuse, emotional pain, trauma and psychological terrorism is a big problem in the United States.

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, 37% of American workers – 54 million people – have been bullied at work.  It is estimated that workplace abuse affects 49% of American workers – 79 million people – when witnesses are included.

Typically the pain arrives in the form of psychological mistreatment, not mid-air tackles at full speed.  In America we have moved beyond physical brutality at work, except for tragic office killings typically perpetrated by victims of bullying behavior who reached the end of their rope and resorted to unjustified murder and violence.

Whether unintentional or cleverly sadistic, the office is full of mistreatment in the form of bullies, jerks or fear-inducing managers who have resorted to psychological violence as a means of control.

That is why the following questions posed in the article, “What’s a Psychologically Healthy Workplace?” can reveal the true psychological health at your workplace.  These questions are very appropriate when considering the safety of your work environment.  The article was published by The New Workplace Institute Blog hosted by David Yamada, NWI founder and professor of law at Suffolk University Law School.

Eight Questions Reveal Psychological Healthy or Unhealthy Workplace

  1. Is there a sense of zest, “buzz,” and opportunity in the workplace?
  2. Do employees feel they are valued and treated with respect and dignity?
  3. Is the organizational culture friendly, inclusive, and supportive?
  4. Is organizational decision making fair, transparent, and evenhanded?
  5. Are diversities of all types accepted or merely tolerated?
  6. Does the organization face or dodge tough questions concerning employee relations?
  7. Are allegations of mistreatment of employees handled fairly and honestly, even when the alleged wrongdoers are in positions of power?
  8. Are compensation and reward systems fair and transparent?

According to Yamada, “These inquiries implicate organizational culture and power, which may threaten bad and/or insecure employers.  But if we want to get to the heart of whether a given workplace is psychologically healthy, we must ask these more difficult questions,” states professor Yamada.

How did your company score after truthfully answering these questions?

Kevin Kennemer is founder of The People Group based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Kevin is driven by his passion for company owners and their need to earn a profit, employees' desire for a positive and fulfilling work experience, and the community that benefits when both groups do well.


  1. Kristin Thompson 15 years ago

    As I don’t work outside the home, I’m not one to have much of an opinion about this topic. But, through reading your blog I began thinking about the uprising problem of bullying of kids and teens. The uprise of this kind of behavior is on the rise and there are only few that are being outspoken about this problem. It stands to reason, though because the parents are the same ones who will be the bullies at work. I don’t know this for a fact but it was something that came to my mind as I was reading and thinking some of the kids we deal with in kids ministry. The horrific things that are said and done to these kids is nothing short of abuse! Sounds like to me, that there is a cycle going on here in the workplace and in the school system. I’m not sure what to do about it, but it does scare me for my own children. Anyway, I enjoyed reading it and began thinking about the children of these employees.

  2. Ganoderma 13 years ago

    Great article – thanks a lot!

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