Unhappiness in the workplace is more common than we think it is. According to a poll by the Employment Law Alliance, 45 percent of Americans report being abused in the office. Not only does this affect their quality of work, but this mistreatment follows them home, influencing their mental and physical health. People can experience headaches, loss of appetite, and even PTSD as the result of workplace abuse. Sadly, women are usually the targets of this kind of aggressive workplace behavior.
Dr. George Simon, author of In Sheep's Clothing, says women often have a tendency towards social interaction that makes them vulnerable to aggressors. Females have incredible intuition, but we just have to listen to our instincts more often, he instructs. In other words, there is a thin line between joking around and causing harm to each other in the office — but you know the difference. The more time you spend with your coworkers, the easier it can be to cross this boundary, so it's important to find the right balance between light interaction and hurtful dialogue.
I've witnessed some heinous things in offices I've worked in, especially as an employee who didn't have much authority. I used to simply keep quiet about it because I was too scared to jeopardize my own career, but I've since learned that there are some things you should never, ever put up with at work. Here are the top five to keep your eyes out for.
1. Name Calling
Harmless nicknames are bound to pop up in the office, especially among the coworkers you're chummy with. But once the name calling is unwanted and based on gender, sexuality, or ability, it's no longer a friendly exchange. For example, if someone refers to an elderly lady as "granny," that refers to a specific characteristic and can be classified as harassment.
These kinds of terms contribute to a hostile work environment; they can be degrading and humiliating. If you encounter this at any time, speak with a manager and request that action be taken. Whatever you do, though, don't respond with name calling yourself — that will only keep the vicious cycle going, and nothing gets resolved.
2. Bullying Of Any Kind
Bullies take all kinds of shapes and forms in the office. In short, they are people who enjoy tormenting others, and they might be harboring some serious psychological issues centered on controlling others. If a person — no matter his or her position in the office — is messing with you or intentionally bringing you down, you have the right to report it. Any of the following could fall under the bullying category: yelling at you, purposefully overloading you with work, withholding information you need to complete your work, etc.
If you feel harassed, start keeping records of each incident and any correspondence between the two of you. Stay calm and confront the person who has been bullying you before you bring your case to a supervisor or HR representative. And if you don't receive the support you need from your superiors, it might be time to consider a new job.
3. Sexual Harassment
Whether it's crude comments, catcalling, or inappropriate touching of any kind, many people, especially women, still suffer from sexual harassment in the office. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 describes this harassment as "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature." If you're dealing with anything under this umbrella, speak to an authority immediately.
One in every four women are violated in the workplace, and many of them are too afraid to report the incident(s). If you're being harassed, just as if you were being bullied, document each thing that is said or done to you, and compile the report to be submitted. Find a support system that can help you through the emotional ups and downs, and be open to counseling, which will help you stay calm when dealing with issues this serious.
4. Being Mocked Or Ignored When You Ask For A Raise
Half of men, at the start of their career, negotiate for a higher salary, while only an eighth of women do the same. Research shows this isn't because we aren't confident or competent; rather, it's about how we're treated when we actually try to negotiate. In fact, countless women have recently reported that they've been told in the office to "be careful about their ambition". If your boss is demeaning to you when you ask for a pay raise you deserve, that's a serious red flag.
Wondering how to negotiate? Jay Bazzinotti of Fortune says your best bargaining position is, instead of listing all the things you've done in the past, to show your boss how you can help the company move forward in the future. He also reminds us that everything is negotiable, and your superiors expect you to fight for what you want. So don't be scared about going in with guns blazing. If you get rudely shooed away, you might want to consider other options.
5. Discrimination Of Any Kind
I can't believe we still have to deal with racism and homophobia in this day and age, but that's the reality. Discrimination, which is defined as "treating someone unfavorably because of a personal characteristic," doesn't only manifest through verbal communication. Your boss could be withholding work from you, giving you all the assignments nobody else wants, or denying you employee rights.
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission just ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation is also illegal under federal law, and we're seeing a rise in organizations who are committed to helping those who have been violated. Even if you're not the victim yourself, you have the right to speak up on behalf of a coworker who is mistreated because of his/her sexuality. Don't put up with it.
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