Filing a Complaint About Workplace Bullying: Is it Hopeless? Not if you are the Voice of Reason

Filing a Complaint About Workplace Bullying: Is it Hopeless? Not if you are the Voice of Reason

You have been on the receiving end of bullying at work for awhile now.  You’ve avoided filing a complaint to HR because you wanted to resolve the situation on your own. You have tried everything you can think of to get away from the conflict, but no dice.  You feel cornered and out of options. Is it time file a complaint with HR? If yes, then help yourself succeed by being the voice of reason.

Filing a Complaint: The Reality of HR

Most often, when targets complain and label their experiences as workplace bullying, HR and company investigators are caught in a bind.  Research evidence indicates that most companies are loathe to label people as bullies, so if you use the “bully” label then you put the company in a difficult position.
When you immediately accuse someone of being a bully, it makes HR takes sides.  It puts the focus on the conclusion, rather than what is actually happening.  How can they support you if you have already brought your own assumptions and conclusions to them? Being overly emotional or demanding won’t help your case, either. Expect that they want to help you, but they are going to have a hard time if you insist on your perspective.

Filing a Complaint AND Being The Voice of Reason

So, when reporting abusive or abrasive behavior, start with “I thought you might want to know…” Or, “I have a problem and need your guidance…”. These phrases make you seem reasonable and help HR figure out the best ways to help you.

Try to separate your emotions from the events that occurred.  Stick to the facts of the offending events: what happened, when it happened, and what was said and done.  State the situation as objectively as possible to allow HR to form their own conclusions about what occurred, and appropriate next steps.

Being Objective Helps You Get What You Want
HR has a complex role to fill, and must determine of any laws were broken, if company policy has been violated, and if there are others who have had similar complaints.  You can help this investigation by being as objective as possible and avoid becoming emotional. In the end, if you are upset, you could hurt your case. If you are the “voice of reason”, you are more likely to be heard and even get what you want.

There is always the possibility that HR can help resolve the situation without ever labeling the employee in question as a “bully.”  And by being the voice of reason when filing a complaint, you never would have made such an accusation.  You would have only reported the facts, and HR would have been able to help you without taking sides.

For more guidance and support in dealing with HR when complaining about abusive or abrasive behavior, contact Kathleen Bartle.