Workplace Harassment

10 Tips For Dealing With Workplace Harassment

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Workplace harassment and office bullying are all too common in this day and age. As a certified harassment advisor, one who works on a (potential) harassment case, and a career coach with certification in solution-focused counseling, I have a good idea on how to handle harassment cases. Here’s what to do to alleviate harassment or bullying in the workplace:

1. Write It Down

Keep a detailed journal of what occurred with as many details as possible.

2. List Witnesses

If there are witnesses, compile their names.

3. Use Your Voice

Tell the offensive person his/her behavior is not acceptable.

4. Seek Help

Go to the supervisor, if necessary.

5. Don’t Rise To The Occasion

Choose not to react to the bullying or harassing behavior. (Quite often, bullying is power through aggression).

6. Use Company Resources

Use your company’s resources, such as a harassment advisor, mediator or employee assistance program (EAP), if necessary. Many EAP programs offer you a choice of talking to someone by phone or in person, and possibly the opportunity to seek assistance outside of your community.

Naturally, harassing behavior or bullying creates stress. I’d like to thank my colleague, Sheryl Pedersen, for inspiring me to blog about this, after taking her workplace stress management seminar.

7. Identify Workplace Stressors

Take a work stress inventory to identify your sources of stress, your triggers and your current coping mechanisms.

8. Change Negative Thoughts

Learn to identify and change your “mind maps” (thoughts swirling in your mind) in such a situation and remind yourself this stressful situation is temporary. You CAN transform negative thoughts and energy into positive thoughts and positive energy.

I highly recommend Dr. David Burns’ book, Feeling Good, to deal with defeating your mind’s negative thoughts. Dr. Burns uses cognitive behavior tools and techniques to help you “program” your mind in the face of adversity.

9. Keep A Joy Journal

Write a joy journal to focus on what is going right (this is the focus of my solution-focus training), rather than what is going wrong.

10. Learn To Relax

Teach your body to relax with “keeping well” resources: deep breathing, progressive relaxation, mindfulness, guided imagery and relaxing music.

If you are a victim of harassment or bullying in the workplace, a statement from Dr. Ron Warner, who trained me in solution-focused interviewing and counseling, still resonates: “No problem exists 24/7 except for terminal illness or chronic pain.”

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Melissa C. Martin

Melissa C. Martin is a bilingual career coach who specializes in dealing with the unemployed, military members, and aspiring entrepreneurs.

7 comments

  1. There was this clear, worst female bully and b**tch named Susan Jones who was sadly a volunteer coordinator at Hospice Complete in Birmingham, AL back in 2007. Susan Jones is a University Of Alabama Advertising graduate from Northport, AL. Her to be branded badly is from what she has done and invited. She would act out with senior citizens and others. Thank God Hospice Complete fired this worst rotten unhuman female who was totally toxic and onesided. Hospice Complete better not have any other overt or covert trashy people like this even from receptionists upwards. She is remembered always as the worst of worst unprofessional employee who is the biggest sociopath, office gossip, total yeller and hothead and would break laws and conduct and crazily throw a fit if anything did not go her way on small trivial tasks. She exposed how she was a major alcoholic to us all and say how she has beef with ber boss openly.

  2. There should be laws, rules and regulations stated in our state labor laws regarding harassment in the workplace. How do we properly document it? Hostile work environments stay on our minds like a disease of chronic pain if we allow it to become emotionally damaging. Suggestions?

    • Dominique,

      This seems like a question for our experts. Why don’t you post it in our Career Advice Forum? They can help you there, and we can also suggest some of our posts that could shed a little light on what to do in tough workplace situations.

  3. The mind maps looks to be a good idea but when ppl are determined to undermine you and harrass you — positive thoughts arent gonna help — I have been trying that for 12 years to no avail.

    I am looking for another positon AGAIN (6 x’s) and SOMEHOW I am still here at my thankless, (to say the least) job. Wish me luck. I am hoping my prospective boss will see what I am really all about and not what my present boss is poisoning his mind with.

  4. Very useful post, dealing with workplace harassment is a very sensitive topic and I think the point you laid out are very useful for the person who is facing any harassment in the office.

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