How to Handle Hostility in the Workplace

By: Together Abroad 12-09-2016

Categories:* Ethics ,

To dislike your job is one thing, but if you feel physically sick just thinking about going to work, your work environment may be outright toxic. Especially if there is hostility between you and another co-worker. There is a proper way of dealing with such a situation. For starters, you should work from the bottom up.

Try to Turn the Situation Around

Address the issue directly with the offender, but be careful about how you approach it. Act professionally and with integrity, stay calm and avoid emulating negative behaviour. Criticise the offender’s actions, not the offender. Steer clear of office gossip, as that will only spread negativity and contribute to an already hostile atmosphere.
Keep your head down and remember that you are here to get the work done. Do so as well as you can. If your first attempt to diffuse the situation fails, you need to face your offender again, repeating your previous message and letting them know that you will be taking the matter to the HR. You should keep documentation of the communication between the two of you, in case you will need it later.

Turn to Management and Human Resources

If you gave it your best try and did not succeed, it is time to speak up. Address both your supervisor and HR, if your company has one. If the issues you are experiencing involve your supervisor or manager, turn to HR before you communicate the issue up to the managerial chain.
When describing the problem, stay calm and professional. An emotional scene could make an impression that you are being unreasonable and therefore part of the problem. Be prepared to list specific examples of the offender’s unacceptable behaviour. Keep your documentation at hand.
At this point you have to rely on your management that they will take adequate measures to supress the inappropriate behaviour. If this does not seem to have improved the situation, it is advisable to repeat the process of informing the management and HR.

Sometimes Leaving Is a Good Option

If your current job is causing you serious emotional or physical stress, head for the exit. In the end, if you are forced to work in a truly hostile environment, sooner or later you will not be able to deliver the performance that is expected of you. Scrape up the remaining energy and morale, line up the next job if you are able to, and leave.

If you are looking for a coping mechanism, try focusing on the fact that you cannot control what other people say and do. You are only in charge of your own actions and reactions; therefore you should not feel responsible for other people’s negative behaviour. Hopefully, you will feel empowered to focus on yourself. Try to turn your bad experience into a valuable learning point. Our strongest personal growth usually comes from living through our most difficult situations.

Veronika Bacova