General Question

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Are you justified in treating someone poorly if it gets the intended result?

Asked by MyNewtBoobs (19026points) September 2nd, 2010

For example, if you are a coach who abuses a new player to toughen him up and create an anger that will drive him to greatness on the field, is that then ok? Is there anything that justifies treating someone poorly?

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24 Answers

skfinkel's avatar

Not in my book. But then, I have no interest in such competitions. I believe that people act best when treated well, not poorly.

Harold's avatar

This is the classic ethics debate between consequentialism and deontology. A consequentialist would say yes to your question, a deontologist would say no. Depends on your world view, I guess.

muppetish's avatar

Abuse, verbal or physical, is not justifiable.

Coloma's avatar


Coercion, manipulation, bullying, anger…...all behaviors of emotionally and mentally unhealthy people. There is no excuse for abuse. Period.

Winters's avatar

Abuse is one thing, but getting a drive from anger/rage started up in the player? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

Trillian's avatar

I don’t know. I’ve been brooding the past couple days beause of some things I said to my ex. He keeps calling me asking for money or rides here and there. The latest thing was he wanted me to pawn some of my stuff and give him the money, and wait until Friday to be paid back. I just lost it and told him a bunch of things to make him stop calling me.
I said he was a bad person with no socially redeeming qualities, I said he was a thief and a liar and a sponge on society. I said he likes to live in the dirt, not only wouldn’t take a hand up out of the dirt but tries to pull others dwn there with him.
It worked. He hasn’t called me in three days. But I feel awful.
I spoke no untrue words, and he’s never given any weight to all the three years of good and uplifting things I’ve said to him, but I know that I affirmed his opinion of himself with what I said and I made him bleed.
I don’t feel good about it.

faye's avatar

I think if you look back at really great winning teams, it wasn’t abuse that gave them the winning spirit. I’m a great believer in positive talk and methods, with animals and humans. I don’t give my best to abusive bosses- I want to retaliate. My daughter cares for abused children and counselling sessions so far have revealed one of all the parents was him/herself abused. (awkward sentence)

kevbo's avatar

Abuse is different from introducing stress to incite growth and development. The latter is necessary and takes some skill to employ.

iamthemob's avatar

For example, if you are a coach friend who abuses a new player someone in a life-threatening relationship to toughen him up and create an anger a strength that will drive him to greatness on the field, leave the person who is one day going to kill them, even though what you do makes them never look you in the eye again, is that then ok?

Intended results are always tricky. Judging benefits are always tricky. Sometimes you get it wrong. But sometimes, you know that something has to be done.

JubalHarshaw's avatar

@kevbo makes a good point. For example; training in the military introduces stressors in a controlled environment. This conditions the trainee to perform his/her duties under combat or emergency conditions. This may appear abusive to an outsider, but is necessary to accomplish the mission and may save the trainee’s life under actual field conditions. Civilian engineers build bridges, combat engineers build them while being shot at; a bit different training required.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@JubalHarshaw Except isn’t that one of complaints that detractors have about the military – that they treat the enlisted like shit?

JubalHarshaw's avatar

@papayalily The military is extremely hierarchical. The living conditions of junior enlisted personnel are very basic (also true on many posts for junior officers). As one gains rank, conditions and perquisites improve. There is something of a caste system separating officers and enlisted from socializing in certain ways. Military life has been that way throughout history. I’m not defending it, just describing. Senior enlisted personnel usually have better housing and pay than very junior officers, so the detractors statements are not strictly true.

The training conditions that I was describing apply equally to officers and enlisted. For example; in Sapper School junior NCOs and junior officers train side-by-side under the same simulated combat conditions. It appears abusive to the outsider, but is necessary to train them under stress so they are conditioned to perform and direct combat engineer tasks under fire, time pressure and other unpleasantness.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@JubalHarshaw I’m familiar, and I know it sometimes gets results, and sometimes it doesn’t. The question is, though: Does that then justify it?

Ben_Dover's avatar

@JubalHarshaw I grok you man. How is Valentine Michael Smith doing!

There is no justification for abusing people, regardless of the results. And it is up to the abused persons to put a stop to it.

JubalHarshaw's avatar

@papayalily I would say yes, under those conditions. I don’t believe that it’s justified in training sports teams or corporate employees. The military is a special case. Possibly police, firefighters and other public safety personnel are another special case. It depends on the nature of the consequence desired. Protecting life is a justified consequence, winning a football game is not.

NaturallyMe's avatar

No, i wouldn’t agree with your examples. I don’t think there’s any need to resort to cruelty in trying to obtain a positive result.
However, people who maliciously dish out poor treatment can expect to get it back from me. I refuse to let someone who treats others badly, to get away with it without any consequences to their behaviour – they must see that it does not pay to treat people badly – letting them get away free from consequences doesn’t teach them anything and it lessens the chance of them ever changing their ways.
Having said that, that’s how i feel, but i don’t recall that i’ve ever had to treat someone poorly for “no reason” just to teach them a lesson. But, for example, an employee caught stealing will be fired and all stolen money will be deducted from their last salary, even if they end up getting no salary at the end of the month. If they’re willing to commit the crime, they must be willing to live with the consequences.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Poor treatment results in motivating people by fear, and teaches that aggression and bullying are okay. It also teaches people to hate you.

augustlan's avatar

I would say no. The only exception I could think of is a situation where acting abusively towards someone would immediately save their life. For instance, if someone ignored your polite tap on the shoulder and “We need to get out of here.”, grabbing them by the hair and saying “Get off your ass and move, moron! The house is on fire!” might be worth it.

Cruiser's avatar

No pain, no gain. Most anybody, including athletes would rely on their God given talents when competing and that alone will not win medals or trophies. Coaches know this and have to “push” their athletes in order to achieve greatness and win championships. That is after all why the coach and ultimately the athlete are even there and some even get paid to do.

Take even personal trainers….they push their clients to achieve mutually desired results.
So IMO it depends on ones POV. At the coaching level, the pushing is simply results oriented mutually agreed upon interaction. The coach and athlete are simply there to win.

daytonamisticrip's avatar

No. Especially if it creates anger. Anger clouds your mind and thinking, makes a person act on impulse which can make him/her do something she/he regrets.

Coloma's avatar

I think some of the worst abusive personalities are in the coaching professions, along with the obscenely overly invested sports parents that have an unhealthy attachment to somehow getting their egos stroked by their kids competitive ‘wins.’

I am not saying ALL coaches are this way, nor parents, but…I have seen some really atrocious behaviors of both over the years.

I had a friend once that was just cut throat when it came to her sons high school soccer matches, I couldn’t beleive what I saw at some of those games. Really f—ked up!

veritas's avatar

As the sayings go “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and “what goes round comes around” – treating someone poorly intentionally is not ok – it’s against human decency and that is why we have war-torn countries and oppression. That being said, it is ok to express anger, specific to the situation and identify what you expect to remedy the situation.And it is ok for behaviors to have consequences. In cases where motivation is needed, help someone create a winning vision.

Ron_C's avatar

I don’t think that tough training is suitable for all people. In my example, my military training was minimal, I went to a two week boot camp, was promoted to E-4 and spent a couple years in schools. I then spent 12 years as a pretty good Petty Officer, without having to endure the sever training that some my peers received. If I had been abused in boot camp or in other training I suspect that I would have just quit and headed off to the university to complete my training.

I know football and basketball coaches that get the best out of their player without resorting to abuse because they lead by example rather than force. I would guess that you would get faster results if you coached with abuse and fear but I believe that you longer lasting results if you lead in a positive and supporting way.

Maybe you need really rough training to be in something like Special Forces but you can twist a person in a way that they aren’t likely to be happy or useful outside a military environment.

ReReTigg's avatar

I think there are certain boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed. If it is physical abuse, it shouldn’t be happening but I have met many coaches that like to put down their players to make them feel as if they need to work a lot harder to impress someone such as scouts or other players.

I think though that positive influences and words are better than anything else. I think that putting someone down like that would just keep them from doing their best because they think that even when they do good, the person yelling at them will just find something else to yell at them about.

Ron C is right about the Special Forces though. They have to be tough to train them.

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