Jessica was just out of school when she began working as a secretary-trainee for a small company.
Howard, a software developer in his mid-20s had the same aspirations as Jessica — to a higher income and attain a certain degree of recognition in the software world.
As things would have it, both Jessica and Howard would encounter not the success they dreamed of, but the frustration of having their “dream bubble” burst right before their eyes. These aspiring professionals were stopped dead in their career tracks not because of some mistake but because of harassment in the workplace. Their “fall from corporate grace” was due to a combination of envy, jealousy, and a fair amount of backtalk from their detractors.
Jessica was caught in the middle of frequent changes in leadership and movement personnel in their division. Even with her efforts to suggest office innovations and other alternatives to make work efficient, Jessica still became the “butt” of sexist jokes. Her good standing with their one and only boss only made it worse. Her diligent work was always praised within the hearing range of the older employees as well as the new ones — a fact that only made her detractors try even harder to discredit her. Envy really poisons the working atmosphere.
While Jessica became a victim of nasty jokes and false rumors, Howard, for his part, became the office scapegoat. What did Howard do to deserve such treatment?. He was confident and brilliant as a software developer with his only perceived weakness was his being the youngest person in the department. Jessica is in the middle of what she nows called the “Boiler Room.” At first, Howard tried to understand why most of his “older” colleagues were somewhat nasty. He thought that they might be seeking some relief from their personal stress but it started to bother him because their intimidation was becoming more frequent. The taunting and sarcasm eventually caused Howard to suffer anxiety panic attacks. Jessica and Howard are only two among thousands who experience harassment and other forms of bullying in the workplace. Anyone can be a target. Harassment often begins with unresolved conflicts between workmates that could even escalate into problems that would eventually require the attention of management.
Harassment at work is one of the most distracting situations that any worker or professional can face. Work, needless to say, is important not only as a means to have a livelihood. It is also crucial to one’s ego and craving for achievement.
Getting along with everybody is not the solution. It doesn’t mean you have to be a people pleaser and compromising your principles. Being warm and sincere can melt the cold atmosphere. But it is important to set standards for yourself. Treat others with respect and dignity, and most likely, you would be treated in the same manner. Appearances also matter, following a dress code or adapting a sensible attire gives an good impression.
Other ways to maintain your good professional standing and mutually beneficial relations with co-workers include:l Be dependable and trustworthy.
l Do not be oversensitive. Not all criticisms should be considered harassment.
l Seek support from higher management when the pressure is too great and if you already feel resentment or despair.
Although, there is no 100% guarantee that workplace harassment can be stopped, you must still take the initiative to stop the maltreatment. If the bullying cannot be stopped by management, maybe it is time to consider the next option: switch jobs or find another job.
Life is too short to stay in a job that causes you misery. Nor it is the end of the world if you leave a company where you are no longer happy.