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Workplace relations aren’t always easy. You have lunch-stealers, over-sharers, and occasional bad-music-playing offenders. But nothing compares to workplace abuse. From sarcastic remarks to verbal and physical abuse, this behavior is unacceptable.
While you should never be afraid to seek help, this can sometimes be difficult if you feel intimidated or nervous. Below is a guide to speaking up about abuse. Following these steps should help you work towards a positive resolution.
Know Your Office Policies
It doesn’t matter what size of office you work in; each company should have a policy for workplace behavior. Familiarize yourself with the policies, which should also underline what to do in the case of a breach, and understand how the abuse in your workplace is at odds with the policies of the company. When you have an understanding of what the company’s expectations are, you can go about speaking up in an educated way.
Speak Directly with the Person
It may be worthwhile speaking directly with the person, but treat the situation with delicacy. If it is a matter of unintentionally inappropriate behavior, they may be embarrassed, ashamed or surprised. Don’t tackle the subject in front of other colleagues. Speak quietly with them to let them know exactly what it is they’ve done that is inappropriate, and be specific. Give examples and explain why you feel it’s not okay.
Escalate if Needed
If speaking with the person doesn’t resolve the situation, you should escalate it to your management staff. Schedule a meeting (sooner rather than later), explain the situation and the action that you took, and describe what you would like to see happen. If their response is unsatisfactory, you may need to turn to your HR department (if you have one), your union, or a specialized law firm like Patinos Personal Lawyers.
Things to Remember
Stay calm and never do or say anything in anger or frustration. Take specific notes of every incident and conversation, ensuring that you mention everything that was said, including the date and time. Most importantly, take care of yourself and do not allow yourself to be put in emotional or physical danger.
What Not to Do
It’s as important to know what not to do as what to do in these situations. No matter how uncomfortable or frustrated you are, do not gossip with colleagues. It’s unprofessional and could make the problem worse. You can confide in a close friend or colleague, but be careful about how you approach the situation, the language you use, and the reason you are sharing the information.
Avoid any mention of the situation on any form of digital media. This includes your personal social media pages (specifically Facebook and Twitter, as well as any others you may use) and also email. The simple rule is: don’t put anything in writing that you aren’t happy to be made public to everyone involved in the situation.
Do you have any suggestions about the best way to handle this type of situation? Share your tips below.