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Dealing With A Hostile Work Environment

Your boss is not the only one who can give you a hard time at your workplace. Your colleagues can crack racist jokes with you being the butt of it, they can also try to pass sexual comments in the garb of jokes. They might also target you for almost everything that they despise.
This is what creates a hostile work environment. Hostile work environment encapsulates everything that makes it difficult for you to work. It is not uncommon for employees to face such rebuttal at work. You need to remember that the reason is not something you did or didn’t do. It’s just their nature.
This does not, at all, mean that you take such behavior lying down. But don’t run off taking corrective action at the first instance. If it happens once, it could be an isolated event. But if it happens regularly, you need to take some measures.

Here are a few tips that’ll help you to deal with such hostile behavior from your colleagues/bosses.
Talk it out
This is one way you could address this issue. If you are facing hostility, there will always be one person targeting you. Go and talk to him. Ask him why he is subjecting you to such harassment. But don’t go to him and allege that he ‘always’ uses offensive language with you. Give specific instances. For example, right after he says something offensive, tell him that this was offensive and you would not entertain such comments/language.
A step ahead
There could be a few people who would not respect your likes and dislikes. Some might make it an ego issue and not pay heed to what you said earlier. For such stubborn people, you need to be stricter. Seriously consider going to the HR and lodging a formal complaint. But, don’t act upon it. Tell him that if he does not stop, you won’t hesitate to escalate the matter to the HR. also, keep a record of the offences, as it might come handy later.
The management and HR
If the person is persistent, go to your manager. Tell him the issue in detail. This is where the records you kept can come in handy as you’ll have a whole list of offences to read out.
You could also go to the HR and you might have to go to the higher management as well. Don’t get nervous. They are people, too. And they will understand your predicament. Not everyone endorses offensive behavior. If your company does not have an HR, go to the senior-most fellow. Chances are high that they’ll want to talk the issue out with the offender, as they would want to hear both sides of the story. This is why you should inform the person of the step you are about to take, else he will accuse you of being a sissy.
You’ll have to keep following up with the HR and the management about the progress of your complaint.
What if it still does not stop?
God forbid, if it still continues, you’ll have to recourse to legal action. The law takes offensive behavior very strictly and does not think it to be a disposable matter. But before you run off to file a suit, check with your lawyer. If the situation does come under hostile work environment, you have a lawsuit in your hands.
If it does not, you can either talk to the highest authority in your organization, or you can resign. Resignation seems unfair when someone else has been the bad guy. But, there does not seem to be any other way out.
However, we sincerely hope that you’ll never have to face hostility at your workplace.
Over To you:
Have you ever had to face such situations? What have you done in such situations? Let me know in the comments.
Adarsh is a career expert at a job portal for Indians. He also talks about resume format for Indians on their career guidance blog.

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