Self Help Skills

How To Deal With Harassment

1. The differences between harassment and bullying: Harassment is when bullying becomes more physical (although people will mentally and verbally harass you too), and is linked to people's discriminatory behavior towards gender, race, or disability.


2. Types types of harassment in the workplace:

- Sexual harassment: Harassment based on your gender differences and having sexual overtones.


- Racial harassment: When the harassment is linked to your race, skin color or cultural background.


- Discrimination: When they treat you differently, not giving you favor or equal preference, because of your gender, race or disability. This is a big problem in the working world.


3. Harassment tactics


Direct harassment at work

- All sorts of physical contact from touching, pushing, and shoving, to serious assault

- Intrusive or obsessive behavior - e.g. constant pestering, baiting, or dogging a person’s movements

- Tricks being played that result in risk or danger to the individual

- Group bullying, where you are overpowered by a number of aggressors


Less direct harassment at work

- Spreading rumors, 'harmless' jokes, or making offensive personal remarks

- Written statements, letters, or graffiti

- Isolating the victim and preventing them from doing their work effectively

- Non-co-operation, or sabotage of professional objectives

- Pressure for sexual favors

- Obscene gestures and comments

- Creating situations that compromise the individual

- Manipulative 'political' behavior - bribery, blackmail etc.


4. Dealing with Bullying or Harassment


- Know when the line is crossed: Repeating from advice in 'Bullying' section' - 'Whenever you feel demeaned by their words, dis-empowered by their actions, or when you think the joke has become 'personal' and hurting, you know they have crossed the line.'


- Do not act before getting all the facts: Reinforce your conclusions by discussing it with people who were present. Seek their objective feedback first.


Wait, observe and document everything. Also make sure whether your impressions are not just based on your personality differences - you are an introvert, for example, and the bully is an out and out extrovert.


Also go over with your close friends the kind of questions the bosses might ask.


- Check out the company employee handbook and harassment laws: There are harassment laws in every country now.


The law puts the onus on the employer to maintain a non-bullying, non-harassing atmosphere in the workplace.


Just Google 'harassment laws country X', for example.


- Confront the harasser when their action is persistent and escalating by the day. Give examples of their behavior, their effect on you, your performance as well as on the team.


- Bullying/harassment always speaks more about the perpetrator than the victim: These people are sad people.


As long their harassment is very infrequent and harmless, you can let it go, not taking it too personal.


Thank you for reading.
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