Workplace bullying or workplace harassment is quite a vivid term. While it may refer to repeated instances of intentional disturbing or offensive behavior directed at an employee, it may also refer to other forms of abuse like discrimination amongst employees on various grounds and so on.
Anything that degrades, humiliates or causes embarrassment to an employee qualifies as workplace harassment and must not be taken casually. Depression rate amongst millenials has been on the rise and disturbance at home or office are the primary reasons behind it.
It is important for all the working professionals to learn to recognize and address workplace bullying behavior. In case you have been an unfortunate victim of the same, we are here to help! Here are a few tips and tricks that can come handy while dealing with it –
- Communicate how you feel about it – Communication has always been the key, whether it comes to relationships or friendships. In a lot of cases, it may happen that you feel uncomfortable when people behave a certain way, but they don’t realize that they are unknowingly disturbing you.
In case, you feel like you are being bullied, you can communicate upfront with the person and let them know how their behavior has been causing you disturbance. Discreetly specify where to draw the line. Telling the bully that the behavior is inappropriate and unwelcome will make you feel strong and see if it sorts the situation out. You may do it over a cup of coffee or invite the person to lunch to discuss the matter.
- Explore your options – In case, communication doesn’t help, you need to see what your further options are to deal with the issue and have a peaceful worklife. One of the initial steps can be to have a look at the company’s employee handbook. This will help you gather all the required information about the concerned employee, concerned officers and methods, if any, to file an internal complaint without letting other employees know.
Most of the companies these days have an Equal Employment Opportunity officer, who guide employees regarding what to do in such matters. In case, this doesn’t solve the issue, another option is for you to contact your manager directly and see what they suggest. You can even speak to a counselor, if the bullying has been persistent over a long time despite repeated warnings, to know what your legal rights in such a scenario are or whether you should file a complaint or not. For instance, if you are a resident of Chicago, you may turn to Rafael Lazaro law group for advice.
The group has on-board experts who can give you professional legal advice in Chicago.
- Report it if it is getting out of control – Any major instance of mental, emotional, physical or sexual harassment must be reported immediately. It is crucial for your employer to know about the harassment to be legally answerable. Inform your manager, supervisor, someone in- charge of the human resources department, or anyone within the organization who is supposed to help you deal with it.
Multinational companies often have a policy for employees to follow while reporting any instances of harassment. In case you sense it, read through the policy carefully and see what the easiest option at hand is as per the company law. You may either have to file your report in writing or, participate in a meeting with the managers, followed by submission of a written account of the instance. Either way, do make sure that you have a copy of the written complaint with you and ask for an acknowledgment as well.
Also, do make sure that you seek professional help while collecting evidence as well. Law firms like Catherine Roland Lazaro law group have helped a lot of employees through their effective employee investigation in Illinois.
- Team up with your co-workers – More than often, it may happen that multiple employees fall prey to the bully. In case you feel comfortable enough, you can discuss the situation with your co-workers and see what they suggest. In case multiple employees have been going through this, all of you can team up and file a group report having a detailed account of all the incidents.
A report submitted by a group anyday, would carry more substance as compared to the one submitted by a single person. However, if the co-workers do not want to file it, you should not shy away and move forward while subtly mentioning in your report that you believe others have been harassed as well.
- Turn to some emotional support from friends and family – Harassment and what follows can leave a deep emotional scar on the victim. It is difficult to go through so much while still continuing your job. It is suggested that you resort to emotional support from your friends and family in this.
Share with them what you have been facing. All of your supportive friends, family members, and colleagues will definitely help you face the abuse with strength. Sharing with others will provide you with that much-needed support and help you look at it from a completely new perspective. They may suggest something or come up with something which may never cross your mind!
Most importantly, you won’t feel alone and have someone to turn to even if you break down at times, which pretty much is possible.
- Don’t lose your composure – A pro tip to effectively deal with harassment or bullying is not to lose your composure. Always maintain your calm and see what you can do to get out of the situation gracefully. Collect your evidence and do the needful like a complete professional.
Getting high on emotions and approaching your boss without any evidence or account can make you look like a fool. It may even be considered a case of overreacting in the worst scenario possible. Thus, it is crucial that you keep calm and be more articulate in your approach. Present a strong and better case for yourself that stands a good chance of creating a nice working environment for other employees as well.
Life is not all roses. Whether it is your personal life or professional life, it cannot be not super happy or super fun at all times. Harassment can happen to anyone. How you deal with it is what changes the game. Bouncing back from it in full swing and making sure that you don’t let it affect you in the long run is important.
If you’ve been through harassment of any sort at your workplace, focus on healing yourself. This will help you feel better and more confident about it and also would enable you to take a suitable action. Devote time to your old friends, family members, start dating, nurture your hobbies and do things that make you feel proud of yourself. You may even turn to therapy or medication to feel good. Whatever you resort to, just know that you are not alone and there is an entire community of professionals to help you through it!
Catherine Jean Roland is an experienced litigator and trial attorney who is licensed in both Illinois and California. Prior to joining Lázaro Law Group, LLC, Catherine gained experience representing employers both at Littler Mendelson, P.C., the nation’s largest employment and labor law firm, and as General Counsel of a venture-backed startup.