Filing a Complaint- About Abrasive/Bullying Behaviors? Seven Steps To Make It Easier
Filing a complaint about a workplace conflict, especially when there is abrasive or bullying type behavior, is a big decision and I am not surprised if you hesitate. Many others in similar situations have faced the same legitimate concerns.
Filing a Complaint: Seven Reasons Why It is Difficult
- It is risky to call attention to the matter because you are admitting you have a situation you cannot handle.
- You are afraid seeking help will harm your reputation.
- You are afraid to admit you are a target of serious workplace bullying because you feel ashamed of being in a bullying situation.
- It is scary people people may take “sides” in your dispute and you could be left without a support system.
- It is scary because people who have witnessed the abuse may refuse to support your claims, leaving you without the evidence you need to help you succeed.
- It is risky because you cannot be sure that HR will offer help and support.
- You are worried that the abrasive person will retaliate and no one will be able to protect you.
Because of these fears and potential risks, it is no wonder you are not sure whether to make a complaint or not. But you really want help, and staying in the situation is not a viable option for you. There are things that you can do to move yourself forward without making yourself even more vulnerable. Consider them carefully.
Filing a Complaint: Seven Steps to Make it Easier
- Check to see if your company has an anti-bullying or a civility policy. If so, know that policy and use it to help you make your case.
- Get the scoop on how your company deals with conflicts regardless of their policies. IF they are loathe to take action, for example, then think long and hard about how you want to proceed. At least try to protect yourself from retaliation and lower your expectations for a strong outcome that works well for you.
- Do not label the conflict. HR needs to make their own decision after an investigation. If you put a label on the behavior, you are forcing HR to take sides. That will not help you.
- By avoiding any labels you can present your complaint as information. “I thought you would like to know…” is better than “Help me. My boss is a bully” because it makes you the “voice of reason” instead of someone with an ax to grind.
- Document, document, and document.
- Have an exit strategy so that if you have to leave, you’re ready to do so.
- Consider a confidence/assertiveness training program to learn how to take care of yourself, and to know when to speak up and when to be quiet.
Filing a Complaint: There are Always Options
Remember that in ANY bullying or abrasive situation, you do have options. There is no need for you to stay in a negative situation. Think carefully about your next move and get to it quickly. Living with bullying behavior kills your self-confidence. Believe me. I know what it can do and I know what works, and what does not work. After all I live the conflicts every day.
For more information about how to handle bullying/abrasive situations, contact Kathleen Bartle.