Despite all the media attention covering harassment, it’s still extremely difficult for the average person to know how to deal with a situation when they are personally affected. Often the focus in the media is on the high-profile stories covering complex and shocking elements.
The everyday variety of workplace harassment that causes significant discomfort and distress, often has victims second guessing themselves.Conflicting thoughts arise. Did he actually intend to touch my butt? Am I overreacting to the inappropriate joke he just told? Can I tell him to move away from me? etc.
Workplace harassment training gives us critical insights. In the training it is emphasised that as soon as another person’s even limited actions make us feel uncomfortable or unhappy,it’s not okay. Workplace harassment is any offensive behavior.
Self-Validation Is Important
The quicker we take back our power during workplace harassment the better. This is because “you” are being undermined!
Part of the process of discovery during workplace harassment training is that we can accept our own internal experiences, thoughts and feelings as valid.We should not let others or even ourselves tell us how we ought to feel in reaction to situations. Firstly,simply focus on the moment.
This unconditional acceptance restores our confidence that we have a right to feel our unique responses.We start to see that often, from early childhood, many of us have not learnt this fundamental right. Once confidence is established, we learn that even smaller offensive infringements of our rights should not be tolerated.
Once we have a strong ability to self-validate, it is also easier to set clear boundaries and confront harassers directly. We do not feel defensive when we raise our voice in anti-harassment speak. Saying Such things as “Stop being racist” or “Do not call me sweetie” frames the terms of engagement and limits potential escalation.
With a greater degree of comfort with what we actually experienced; we are able to make choices on how to proceed.If we feel unsafe, suspect that the behavior will persist or it may be pervasive.Complimenting self-validation is a greater appreciation of our values and ethics as well as willingness to make a stand.
If you decide to deal with harassment formally, write down all the details whilst fresh. This is important to substantiate your version. In telling stories of harassment, we also create the opportunity for reconciliation within ourselves and with others. We need to avoid any subsequent self-inflicted harm including self-criticism, guilt or isolation. Responses often associated with speaking up that have the potential to create trauma.
What is often missed, when we pursue correction of harassment, is that our sense of wellbeing is strongly associated with control of outcomes. Whether harassers are disciplined becomes secondary to the attention we should pay ourselves.
We should talk to supportive others oruse the experience to help others. Journaling may also be therapeutic or getting a counselor warranted. Progress is when we see our self-worth throughout the workplace harassment experience and come to celebrate that we became more resilient as a result. We can control achieving closure.