Belittled And Put Down By Peers

Question:

I have been belittled and put down by my peers. I also have been hit by one and grabbed by another. This has been going on for months. Other staff members have been brought into this. I have a group of people against me. When I told the union rep about this, I was told that she could not help me. I was later sent an email by one of the upper managers, and was told that this company takes alleged accusation serious. But when I met with an individual in upper management, he said that he had talked to the others and they stated that what I had reported was not true–it is a case of he said, she said. What can I do? This has caused me to lose self-confidence. Now I stay to myself to keep the peace.

Signed,

Way Down


Answer:

Dear Way Down:

Yours is a sad story of being belittled and put down by your coworkers. And you are to be commended for seeking help from your union or management. You were and are right to think your union should defend you and that management is responsible to correct a hostile work environment. Therefore, you are disheartened that neither was able to resolve your complaint. Why? Either they failed to investigate thoroughly or they found no solid proof of “put-downs” or physical assault. That doesn’t mean you were not. For the time being, staying to yourself to keep the peace appears your best choice. I know you feel put-down and my comments are meant to help you think through what happened and then to do what you can to give yourself a shot of self-confidence and will boost your ego.

1. Let the past be past. You probably have the events of what was said and done playing over and over again in your mind, like a broken record. It is time to let them go. If you can’t stop that, spell out the specifics of what specifically was said, when, where, and by whom. Include what seemed to provoke each of them–what you did or didn’t do that led to the putdowns and grabbing/hitting. Write it all out, make a copy, and store it in two different places. Perhaps you will need this account sometime, but for now, pretend they are buried. Say to your self, “Goodbye, I did my best to report them. Now, I will not dig them up.” I suggest writing them down and making two copies, so that if the belittling continues you will have the experience of logging future incidents carefully. 2. Don’t lose your assertiveness. You have a voice and you spoke up, following the proper channels. But for now, don’t focus on your hurt. Rather think of ways you might boost the egos of your peers. 3. Focus on doing assignments effectively, and for the next couple of weeks, except for a smile and hello, communicate with coworkers only if and when you need to do your job. I suggest this because there might have been something done or not done on your part that provoked the hitting and putdowns. Think about ways you might cut wasted supplies, time, energy and money. If your workplace has “lean management” program, take whatever training is offered and become a member of a quality improvement effort. Consider your options. Take outside training to improve your skills. Seek the advice of Human Resources. They might suggest training that will improve your job skill and enable you to transfer to a different section in your company; one where you could get a fresh start. 4. Get a life. Work is not all you are or can be. Surely there are activities that can boost your self-confidence, such as tutoring a child at the library or an adult that is learning to read. Join walking group, a choir, zumba dance group, yoga, or hospital volunteers or church group that visit shut-ins. Take short courses in cooking, quilting, home repair, etc. Join an investment group. 5. Read about your career or industry. Almost every community has civic clubs, toastmasters, and professional associations. As long as you are physically and able, dream, plan and map the weeks and years ahead on a career path. If you aren’t growing, you are decaying. On our home page, click on my associate Workplace Doctor, Tina Lewis Rowe’s name. That will access her own site filled with dozens of posts on making the workplace employee friendly and effective. Possibly these thoughts are more that you wanted when you sent your story of despair to Ask the Workplace Doctors. Yet I hope you will find some of them are worthy of your time and to speak to you personally. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden