The truly crucial conversations are about how employees interact with other to create a workplace culture.
Truly crucial conversations are about why a policy (such as prevention of bullying or harassment exists) and what people need to do.
Too often out policies canvass the reporting and complaint making process with a focus on the person who is experiencing that negative behaviour and its impact. There is not often guidance for what other staff can or ought to do. In fact many policies rightly say that a formal complaint can only be lodged by the person who has been negatively impacted by a situation (or situations).
That begs the question of what I am doing writing this post.
Let’s consider an example of a person who feels that a co-worker is bullying them.
In most cases the first reference point a person will seek out is their co-workers – and silent co-workers may well be interpreted as co-workers who agree with or endorse the statements or actions of the potential perpetrator. In other words, the silence is interpreted as not only a Yes, but as endorsement and agreement.
This can then even further isolate the individual and also create a belief that there is little to be gained from saying something to a manager because if all others agree then clearly the bully is correct. Can you understand how pervasive this is? How insidiously the actions or words or taunts of one person, through the silence of others, can be interpreted as a new form of “right”.
Human beings a tribal creatures and we typically seek to fit in. When an individual feels that they do not fit in the most typical response is to alter personal behaviour in order to fit in. What happens to a culture or a society when the behaviour that is being followed is not actually socially acceptable or endorsed?