5 Tips on how to Handle an Uncomfortable Situation in the Workplace

by Tatyana Frid

Photo by Nicole Wolf on Unsplash

Work can be stressful at times, and it’s even more prevalent when your once happy workplace feels uncomfortable due to tensions with a coworker or higher up. While no workplace is perfect, you shouldn’t feel as though it is ok to subjected to uncomfortable situations. Here are a some useful tips on how to defuse tensions in the workplace. The steps you take can vary depending on your situations, so use your best judgement before proceeding.

1.Try to figure out the root of the problem first.

Before you proceed with addressing the problem, figure out what the root of the issue is. What is something someone said that was unprofessional and derogatory? What is something someone did that made you feel unsure around them? Was it physical or verbal harassment? If your answer to any of these is ‘yes’, then you should speak to your company’s Human Resources representative or report the person to the ethics hotline. Use your best judgement before approaching the person in the situation. It is possible that their reaction to the encounter can be negative so it is best to use your judgement and report them to a qualified person to address the situation. Be prepared to provide proof of the encounter either through witnesses, documentation or physical proof.

2. If the situation was out of character for your counterpart that you are usually on good terms with, then you should speak them about it.

Are you usually on good terms with this colleague? If so, then you should pull them to a private area and express your discomfort with your most recent interaction. Explain to them that you value them as a colleague and co- worker and you want make amends before considering reporting them to a hirer up if they seem genuinely sorry.

3. If this behavior still continues or your uncomfortable to talk to your co-worker, talk about the incident with the HR department.

If the co-worker seems genuinely sorry but the behavior does not stop, take up the situation with Human Resources. If the co-worker was genuinely sorry, they would have stopped the behavior, especially if you talked about the incident with them. Also, if your just really uncomfortable in talking to this particular co-worker, bring up the situation with HR. If this co-worker cares about their job they will stop this behavior if given a warning by a higher up. Also, if the incident was pretty serious, the co-worker will most likely be terminated.

4. If the Co-worker is warned and the behavior still continues, report it to the HR department again.

If you know the co-worker was warned but they seemed to have simply ignored the warning, don’t be afraid to go to the HR department again to state that the behavior is still going on. Depending on the severity of the issue, the co-worker could be terminated, or if possible moved to another area of the office so it would be harder for them to bother you. You won’t get fired for reporting someone twice, especially if you have good evidence backing you up. If anyone else witnessed the behavior ask them if they can come with you to back up your claim.

5. If nobody is doing anything to help you, start applying for new jobs with better work environments.

Sometimes, you may be working somewhere that may not be that great and they don’t take concerned employees claims seriously. If they haven’t made an effort to talk to the problematic employee and give them a proper warning about their behavior, then it’s probably best if you start looking for another job where they have a stronger company policy against harassment. A toxic environment is never good for you or your career. If your in a positive environment, you will feel a lot better and be able to focus at getting better at your job instead of dreading going to work.

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