Everyone in the workforce has been burned, or experienced some hurt, pain and loss, at the hands - and sometimes ill-intent - of another. People hurt us, sometimes tell untruths about us, often misjudge us and, in a few cases, they maliciously slander our names and reputation for their own selfish benefit. It leaves us wondering what is in the heart of a person who seems to take pleasure in the suffering or discomfort of another. Why do we seem to have a stronger preference towards harming and ridiculing, rather than helping and encouraging.
The question we seek to answer today is: What is the professional response to workplace hurt, which can be deliberately inflicted by fellow employees, supervisors and, sometimes, senior leaders? How do we push past the pain that is caused when your name has been sullied, your reputation trashed and your spirit dashed? As you rise from the ashes, how do you work alongside someone who has truly hurt you?
* Remain professional and ethical. Do not allow your frustration or anger to make you uncouth. Your actions, and level of service, has to be maintained at a high standard despite what you encounter on the job.
* Use appropriate language. Guard your words well when dealing with team members with whom you have a negative history. You cannot avoid them, and it is unwise to do so. Soft, well-chosen words with positive body language will get you by day after day. Do not engage in conversations that have the potential to become volatile.
* Avoid revenge tactics. Your time should never be spent plotting ways to get back at the person who has hurt you. Sometimes, people should be left to their own devices. They are often in self-destruct mode, and are attempting to take others down with them.
* Do not engage in conversations about the person, as this might get back to them. You may cause some further issues if you find yourself talking about an employee to another team member. Avoid any conversation about the individual. Even those that seem harmless may become a trap.
* Be sure to document issues that may arise. With a supervisor, subordinate or fellow team member, ensure that you document anything that might be brought up on ‘row day’. Records of conversations, their frequency, intensity and words used, may clear your name on the day of reckoning.
* Always have credible witnesses at future encounters. You may not be thinking revenge or retaliation, but others just might. Protect yourself and always have witnesses. Do not allow anyone to corner you in a room alone or in any form of seclusion.
* Do not avoid the individual. Try to engage them peacefully in professional and social settings. The best way to address most issues is to confront them. Be cordial, and try to break the ice and bad blood as best you can. Staff socials, parties and other relaxed environments are some of the best places to do this.
* Apologise and let them know you have moved on. Many in the workplace lack the social maturity to ‘let it go’ and move on. You must muster the strength, though, irrespective of the hurt caused, to heal and let them know that you are over it.
* Find opportunities to compliment and congratulate others. Everyone is good at something. Find the good in that individual, and take every opportunity to lift and praise them.
• NB: Ian R. Ferguson is a talent management and organisational development consultant, having completed graduate studies with regional and international universities. He has served organisations, both locally and globally, providing relevant solutions to their business growth and development issues. He may be contacted at email@example.com.