How do you handle a hostile work environment?

words Al Woods

hostile work environment

Being part of an environment where you feel unwelcome, uncomfortable or outcast is a horrible feeling. Especially if you’re required to make an appearance there on a regular basis. There are many different types of hostility that you can experience in the workplace. Because hostility stems from making you feel uncomfortable or having to put up with unacceptable behavior, it could be a comment or action based on your gender, race, ethnicity, age or even status at work. 

Sometimes a hostile work environment can even put your health in danger or at risk of getting injured due to your workplace not caring about your physical health, mental health or personal well-being. Whether it’s by a colleague, supervisor or even management, you might need to call a lawyer if you find things getting out of hand. A hostile work environment can cause severe anxiety problems as well as other psychological issues due to the fear and struggle that come along with it. The question is: How do you handle a hostile work environment?

To help you overcome this situation, here’s how to handle a hostile work environment:

Avoid Putting Yourself in Harm’s Way

One of the first things you can try to do is to minimize the hostility as much as possible. If the hostility is directed at you by a specific person, it is best to avoid contact with them. This can be done by asking your supervisors to change offices, ask to work on a different project or even report to a different supervisor depending on the person who’s responsible for making your work-life hostile. This can at least reduce it being an issue on a daily basis until you feel you need to take severe action.

Find an Escape

If you feel the workplace is suffocating, try to take a break and go for a walk outside the office to recharge yourself with a bit of positivity. Finding an escape can also be disappearing inside your head. You can do this by always having your headphones on and limiting your interaction with others by blocking out whatever negative comments or hostility they have towards you. The more focused you are on your work and trying to avoid them completely, the more you’ll be able to disconnect and leave that hostility behind.

Get Proof

One important rule to remember is that if you plan on taking severe action and fighting back against any act of harassment or discrimination towards you, you need proof. Try to remain calm until you’ve collected the evidence you need. This could be by recording comments being addressed towards you, saving emails that contain inappropriate language or racist remarks, or even photographs or videos or any sexual or physical abuse. Once you’ve gathered enough evidence, you can file a complaint or restraining order and make sure that your company or the law will take the necessary action and keep you safe. Unfortunately, without proof there isn’t much that can be done, so before you consider taking your complaints to higher management, always make sure you have enough evidence to back up your claims.

Object to the Harassment

Most harassers think that they are stronger than you because people are too afraid to call them out or put them in their place. That’s why you should not only call them out, but object to their actions and words stating their inappropriateness to put them in place. 

Talk to your Colleagues

It’s very likely that you are not the first person to experience a hostile environment in the workplace before. If you’re planning on taking action, always ask those around you who could possibly be in your shoes to check whether they’ve experienced the same type of hostility. This will not just create an ally for you at work and allow you to confide in someone else, but it can also help you gather more information and evidence to back up your case against the person in question. When more people speak up, you’ll have more proof and a better chance of seeing justice being taken against the harasser. 

It’s a horrible feeling to be uncomfortable or feel violated at a place you go to on a daily basis. If, however, you’re experiencing any kind of hostility, it is important that you make sure you’re safe, avoid putting yourself at risk and always try to document whatever issues you’re experiencing before taking further action and trying to put a stop to it. To see what you need, check the laws of your state to ensure you have enough proof. 

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