Surviving a Hostile Work Environment

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If you are unfortunate enough to be working in a hostile work environment then much of this post is sadly all too familiar to you. I too have experienced this more than once. I unfortunately learned that each hostile work environment was different and the actions I took in one did not work as in the previous experience, so I was forced to change my tactics with each instance. In this post, I will highlight the most common instances and show you some guidelines to follow that will work in most every situation.

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Surviving a Hostile Work Environment

  1. 1.               Art  of  the  W ingman  for  Business  is  dedicated  to  the  businesswomen  and  businessmen  who  seek  greatness  beyond  their  own   and  find  their  successes  through  helping  others  succeed.  The  Business  Wingman  follows  the  path  of  the  selfless  person.     Surviving  a  Hostile  Work  Environment     Key  Points   • Speak  up  but  don’t  stand  out   • Block  out  the  negativity  and  stay  on  course   • Give  yourself  a  deadline  for  change,  then  move  on     If  you  are  unfortunate  enough  to  be  working  in  a  hostile  environment  then  much  of   this  post  is  sadly  all  too  familiar  to  you.  I  too  have  experienced  this  more  than  once.  I   unfortunately  learned  that  each  hostile  work  environment  was  different  and  the   actions  I  took  in  one  did  not  work  as  in  the  previous  experience,  so  I  was  forced  to   change  my  tactics  with  each  instance.  In  this  post,  I  will  highlight  the  most  common   instances  and  show  you  some  guidelines  to  follow  that  will  work  in  most  every   situation.     Hostile  work  environments  have  different  characteristics  but  many  people  associate   it  with  the  literal  environment,  meaning  your  office  or  workplace.  Many  characterize   it  as  having  poor  office  conditions  or  even  little  to  no  in-­‐office  perks  or  privileges.  I   certainly  believe  that  those  are  true  but  let’s,  for  the  sake  of  the  broader  audiences,   identify  behavioral  or  situational  characteristics.  Here  is  why…  in  larger  companies,   it  is  much  harder  to  change  the  condition  of  your  office  and  amenities  inside,  than  to   change  the  attitudes  and  behaviors  of  its  employees.       According  to  the  Human  Resources  section  of  About.com,  they  clearly  define  the   legal  guidelines  around  a  hostile  work  environment.  I  feel  that  this  definition  gives   the  best  answer,  as  it  is  clear  and  straightforward.  Below  is  a  section  straight  out  of   that  article.       A  hostile  work  environment  is  created  by  a  boss  or  coworker  whose   actions,  communication,  or  behavior  make  doing  your  job  impossible.   This  means  that  the  behavior  altered  the  terms,  conditions,  and/or   reasonable  expectations  of  a  comfortable  work  environment  for   employees.  Additionally,  the  behavior,  actions  or  communication  must   be  discriminatory  in  nature.  
  2. 2. So,  a  coworker  who  talks  loudly,  snaps  her  gum,  and  leans  over  your   desk  when  she  talks  with  you,  is  demonstrating  inappropriate,  rude,   obnoxious  behavior,  but  it  does  not  create  a  hostile  work   environment.  On  the  other  hand,  a  coworker  who  tells  sexually   explicit  jokes  and  sends  around  images  of  nude  people  is  guilty  of   sexual  harassment  and  creating  a  hostile  work  environment.     A  boss  who  verbally  berates  you  about  your  age,  your  religion,  your   gender,  or  your  race  may  be  guilty  of  creating  a  hostile  work   environment.  This  is  especially  true  if  you  asked  the  individual  to  stop   and  the  behavior  continues.         1) Speak  up  but  don’t  stand  out   If  you  are  unfortunate  to  have  just  identified  yourself  entering  or  have  unhappily   been  surviving  a  hostile  work  environment  and  have  not  spoken  up  about  it,  then   this  section  is  for  you.         My  advice  to  you  is  that  you  need  to  take  the  courage  and  speak  up  about  the   problem.  There  is  a  right  way  and  wrong  way  to  speak  up.       • The  right  way:  seek  out  someone  in  management  or  in  human  resources   that  you  trust  and  speak  openly  to  them  about  your  situation.  Ask  them  for   their  advice  and  their  support  if  this  does  move  to  a  formal  complaint.  You   will  need  advocates  to  help  you  stay  on  top  of  the  situation  and  those  
  3. 3. • advocates  will  help  you  also  to  decide  on  how  to  move  forward  and  not  risk   alienating  yourself.   The  wrong  way:  seek  out  the  advice  of  your  work  friends  and  colleagues  and   continue  to  communicate  to  the  workplace  that  you  are  upset,  that  you  have   been  harassed  and  that  you  are  pointing  out  people  in  the  public  spotlight.   This  is  absolutely  the  wrong  way  to  do  things.  All  this  does  is  let  people  know   that  you  are  distracted  in  the  workplace  and  are  the  victim.  This  opens  you   up  to  scrutiny  from  management  and  isolation  from  your  co-­‐workers.  This   also  starts  a  chain  a  rumors  and  unwanted  judgment  on  your  actions.         2) Block  out  the  negativity  and  stay  on  course   If  you  have  decided  to  not  speak  up  about  your  situation,  have  decided  to  power   through  the  problem  or  have  decided  to  wait  for  it  to  work  itself  out,  no  matter  the   reason,  then  you  have  made  your  decision  and  you  need  to  stick  with  it.  With  that   said,  it’s  important  to  follow  2  key  pieces  of  advice:   • Do  what  you  can  to  block  out  the  negativity  from  your  workday  and  don’t   succumb  to  spreading  rumors  and  talking  bad  about  people   • Stay  the  course  and  just  work  hard.  If  the  situation  escalates  in  any  way,   make  sure  that  you  have  this  accolade  working  for  you.  It’s  hard  for  a   company  to  reprimand  you  when  you  produce  results.     3) Give  yourself  a  deadline  for  change,  then  move  on   If  you  have  painfully  lived  through  a  hostile  work  environment  and  feel  that  you  just   have  had  enough,  it’s  important  to  give  yourself  a  deadline  on  whether  or  not  to   leave  the  company  and  move  on.  Like  many  other  things,  it’s  easy  to  procrastinate   and  continue  to  give  yourself  excuses  to  why  you  should  still  stay  and  so  on.  The   smart  choice  to  say  (for  example),  “  I  am  giving  myself  just  2  months  and  if  I  don’t   see  any  action,  then  I  am  going  to  move  on  and  put  in  my  2  weeks.”  If  you  feel  that   this  is  the  best  course  of  action,  then  give  yourself  a  deadline  and  when  that  day   comes  and  you  are  still  in  the  fire,  get  out  and  move  on.       Because  we  have  all  experienced  hostile  work  environments  in  our  careers,  we  can   easily  assume  that  others  will  have  experienced  this  too  or  soon  will  experience  this.   Your  role  as  the  Business  Wingman  is  to  help  others  in  need  and  be  that  outlet.  Help   guide  your  team  to  success  and  never  let  anyone  have  to  endure  what  you  have  had   to  endure  yourself.     Visit  our  blog  at  http://www.artofthewingman.com.        

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