Imagine going to work every day, dreading potential interactions. Maybe you’re afraid of your boss, or your coworkers make you feel uncomfortable or humiliated. Perhaps you regularly get teased, threatened or bullied.
If any of these experiences sound familiar, you could be working in a toxic environment. Under these circumstances, you should know what you can do to protect yourself and your job.
In some cases, addressing the offending party directly and informally is enough to stop harassment or bullying. The other person may not realize their conduct is offensive or mean; they might think they are being funny or just making harmless remarks.
As such, talking to them about how their behaviours affect you could open their eyes and help them recognize their mistakes. You might focus on how you perceive their statements and explain how their treatment harms you and your work. Another option is to put these thoughts into writing.
If you do not feel safe or comfortable talking to them directly, or if multiple people are involved, you could bring the issue up to your manager. This person should follow up by speaking with the other parties and taking appropriate measures to correct bad actions.
Your approach can be the same whether you respond verbally or in writing. Focus on how you feel, highlight specific statements or actions, and try to stay calm and respectful. Being clear and direct can be crucial in establishing boundaries and illustrating where the other person has crossed the line.
Taking official action
If an informal approach is ineffective or your manager or employer does not remedy the misconduct, escalating the issue could be necessary. You can do this by filing a formal complaint or taking legal action. Bringing a formal complaint can also be the best option if the toxicity of your workplace is rooted in the culture and widespread.
If going to work every day is stressful and upsetting because of how others treat you, then it can be crucial to take action to protect yourself and your rights. Doing so sooner rather than later can help you minimize the toll that bullying, harassment and discrimination take on victims.