Is Raising My Voice to a Coworker Bullying?

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about
communicating more loudly than normal:

In a stressful situation at work, is raising your voice at a co-worker considered harassment or bullying? Example- “but they need to catch up now!”

Signed—Raised My Voice

Dear Raised My Voice:

No. Raising your voice to make a point is not bullying unless it is a pattern of pushiness and badgering a coworker. The important issue is: Have you been accused of harassment or bullying and is this used as an example of that? Raising your voice is meant for emphasis. True? But it is interpreted as showing your authority and that is not even acceptable for bosses and managers.

Raising your voice to a coworker should be reserved for warning of a danger and for anger. In families shouting at a spouse, child or dog is common and may be acceptable in some workplace cultures. But in our workplaces raising your voice is not acceptable.

Even if you alone wonder if raising your voice is bad, it’s smart to look in the mirror and ask: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall am is seen as someone who bullies? How do I communicate? Do I order or ask questions when I see something that needs to be done? Do I say please and thank you? Do I encourage and praise, such as saying “Good stuff, Guy” or “That’s great, Sally.” In short, are you a cheerleader of coworkers or one who’s frequently points up something that’s not right, and you do that by speaking more loudly than normal?

Probably your work group has not talked about how you talk with each other. That’s a common mistake. Just as a team needs to have skull sessions about how they communicate during a game, work groups are smart to talk about how they communicate. Might spelling out do and don’t rules about how communication can be more efficient and effective be a good topic for a staff meeting or two?

Does this make sense? Working together with hands, head, and heart makes big WEGOS. Hope to hear more from you.

William Gorden