NAPW Business Forum: Rise Above! Handling Bad Workplace Behavior
Ahhh, the office. A tranquil, harmonious land where we pursue our dreams, doing what we love while getting paid to do it! Well, at least it is… in an ideal world. According to The Cost of Bad Behavior by Christine Pearson, 96% of people have experienced incivility (disrespectful behavior) in the workplace, with 94% saying they have attempted to get even with their tormentors. Yes, those are some seriously scary stats! It’s time to rise above and get a handle on bad workplace behavior.
Take a look at yourself and the situation. Do you see a pattern of disrespect from a co-worker or boss? Or was it simply that they were having a bad day? Maybe what you thought was bad behavior was just an example of stress – on their part. Make sure to assess each instance of what you feel is disrespect so that you can properly address it if necessary.
Change of Address
So, the disrespect is definitely a pattern. Stay calm and think. Put your thoughts in order, write them down and pick the key points you want to address. Then tell your co-worker, who might not even be aware of the negative impact of their words, why their offensive behavior is troubling. As you speak with them, remain pleasant and agreeable and make sure to use the “I” message, a communication tactic that focuses on your experience rather than attacking or accusing the other person.
If you know there are others in your office experiencing hostile behavior from one particular person, consider approaching the other “targets” and speak to the offending party as a group. Using tact, diplomacy and as much compassion as possible, let the offender know that all of you want to solve the issue and move on for a better workplace experience for everyone.
If the group approach does not work for a positive outcome, you have to make a decision: Speak to human resources or your manager or try to avoid the offender whenever possible. Since the latter might be hard to do, state your case to a higher up, explaining calmly how the work environment would be much more productive with the offending party ending their disrespectful behavior; then step back. In this case, you’ll have to live with whatever the “higher power” decides to do with the situation.
Reality: We all have our level of “up to here.” If you’ve had yours, it’s time to consider a new job. And, remember to stay positive about your experiences. You’ve learned a lot about yourself and others, and are now well equipped to know a “good” work environment when you experience it. Good luck!
How have you handled bad workplace behavior? If you’ve encountered difficult bosses or unprofessional co-workers, tell us about the experience.
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