When it comes to working, there are so many inappropriate workplace behaviours that can get you in trouble. There are some workplaces that are able to crack down and eliminate these behaviours entirely and others that turn a blind eye. Workplace culture can vary from office to office. The good news is that thanks to the recent Hollywood scandals the Me Too movement has put a spotlight on this very serious problem.
Businesses are now taking inappropriate workplace behaviour a lot more seriously than they used to, and it’s long overdue. Ignorance is often used as an excuse. So, to eliminate that entirely takes education and clear rules, guidelines and standards to be enforced.
Let’s take a look at the top offender’s when it comes to inappropriate workplace behaviour:
1. Invading personal space
This is a nice way of saying that one person is either touching someone without consent or standing too close to them. Both are unacceptable. Intimidation is a big part of any predatory workplace behaviour like this. The offender is often in a position of power and it is subordinate’s personal space that is being encroached upon.
To help prevent this from happening in the first place, and to stop it from escalating, a number of things need to be in place. The first is that there needs to be a confidential and secure method of reporting any actions as described to a higher authority. Next, there need to be protections in place that should someone report a superior, their career is not put in jeopardy. Finally, businesses have a responsibility to implement training for workplace sexual harassment.
2. Talking about a co-workers sex life
Reputations can be destroyed through this. Spreading rumours and speculating can be very damaging to their career and their personal life should the rumour make it’s way back to their family. Talking about a coworkers sexual preferences is also very inappropriate. This can be a very volatile subject and more importantly none of anyone’s business.
When in doubt, it is always best to refrain from commenting about anything sexual or a person’s habits outside of the workplace. It is their business. If an individual starts discussing their sex life at work then they are being inappropriate. This is not an invitation to join in.
3. Pet names
Referring to males or females by pet names such as babe, sweetie, or anything else is demeaning. It devalues them as a member of the team and sexualizes them. They have a name, be sure to use it at all times. Even without meaning to these names can promote a sexist working culture than needs to be stamped out at all costs.
When a superior flirts with a member of their staff, this can be a big problem. Because of the power dynamic, there is undue pressure on the subordinate to go along with the flirting. This is unfair and an abuse of power. This can also lead to more inappropriate behaviour down the line. This needs to be nipped in the bud before it can develop.
This doesn’t just apply to flirting. A hug that might be seemingly harmless can be forced upon a subordinate that didn’t want to cause offence by rejecting it. This is a difficult concept for many people to grasp, as the superior is not as acutely aware of the power dynamic as the subordinate is in these moments. The best advice is to remain professional at all times and respect those who you are talking to.
5. “Accidental” Touching
This inappropriate workplace behaviour is hard to prove, but it is a behaviour that will not go unnoticed for long. It is frustratingly common to hear stories of new women arriving in a workplace to be warned by all of the other women to keep their distance from a particular manager. The only way that these predators learn is when there is an overwhelming number of people who come forward to accuse them.
6. Discussing a celebrity’s body
This can seem harmless but it can and often is offensive to discuss anything to do with body image. This can be upsetting to those in the office who fail to meet these impossible beauty standards that play out in front of us on a daily basis. Even throwaway comments can be very damaging and inappropriate in the workplace.
7. Commenting on a co-worker’s appearance
This is a very dangerous line to walk. The intent of a comment or compliment is irrelevant. If offence has been caused then the damage is done. It is best to refrain from commenting on a coworkers appearance especially if the comment could be interpreted as flirting. That is assuming that the comments were positive. If the comments were negative then there is no excuse for that whatsoever.