31 Mar Game Changer Girls Are Virtually Everywhere!
In recent years, the workplace has been exposed as a fertile breeding ground for discrimination, bias, and plain old bad behavior
From racial slurs to homophobic jokes, intolerance can do more than offend – it can turn what should be welcoming workplaces into bullying grounds for working adults.
As a diversity and inclusion expert, I’ve spent over 12 years helping Fortune 500 ranked companies, educational institutions, and non-profits create and execute strategies to embed culture, diversity, and inclusion into the employee experience. In the last 12 months, I’ve trained over 5000 leaders within well-recognized workplaces across the country where I’ve observed workplace bullying up close. Here are some tips to deal with workplace bullying if it should ever become an issue for you.
DOCUMENT AND REPORT
First things first: while every company culture is different, but if you find yourself a victim of bullying, document and report it to HR. While not always strictly enforced, bullying is against most company policies.
ASK THE BULLY TO STOP
It seems simple, but a second way to stop workplace bullying is to ask the bully to stop the behavior explicitly. But be specific: you wouldn’t say “Stop bullying me…”, instead you’d cite the specific bullying behavior and request a reprieve: “I want you to stop interrupting me when I am sharing ideas in meetings. It stops the team from hearing information vital to us doing our jobs…”
PULL YOUR COLLEAGUE ASIDE
I always say where possible, if you feel like you are safe and comfortable doing so, address a concern with people directly. If there is a foundation of trust between colleagues, often they can have a private conversation that can clear things up. Now, if we are talking about a scenario where you do not feel safe or you feel targeted, you can go to your HR leader or most companies have an ethics number you can call to report offenses. Assess how safe you feel, then take the step that will create the best approach to address the issue for you.
BE OR FIND AN ALLY
Next, either employ an ally or be an ally – make sure someone else knows what is going on so one person isn’t alone watching it occur. If you witness bullying in your workplace by other coworkers, don’t be silently complicit. If you see or hear something, say something. As I shared in my book Allies and Advocates, what you allow, you teach – so the worst thing to do is to sit back and say nothing.
OWN UP AND APOLOGIZE
If you think you may be the bully often body language will let you know when you have offended someone, or they may just come right out and tell you. In either case, the first step is to properly apologize, which sounds like “I am sorry for, fill in the blank.” Then follow up by asking what would be appropriate. “Can you help me understand how I can prevent offending going forward?” This piece lets the person you offended know that you are committed to shifting your behavior for the better. It is important to note, an apology does not include an explanation for your behavior. So, statements like, “I am sorry you were offended, I was just trying to…” or “I didn’t mean …” are ineffective and can further offend.
DISENGAGE WHEN NECESSARY
Lastly, always prioritize your wellbeing. If you are a victim of workplace bullying and your HR department fails to resolve the issue, preserve your peace. Avoid engaging with the bully unnecessarily.
Amber Cabral is the author of “Allies and Advocates” and a diversity and inclusion consultant to major retailers and the Fortune 500 at her company CabralCo.