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As a Career and Leadership Coach, I often receive questions related to company culture. Recently, I received the following question in my inbox: is yelling in the workplace harassment? Unfortunately over the past few years, there has been a rise in verbal abuse, physical assaults, and offensive behavior in the workplace.
These actions have contributed to what we now call a toxic work environment. I’ve spent the past few years raising awareness regarding workplace bullying, hostile work environment, and discriminatory behavior in the workplace. As a toxic workplace survivor and career coach, I now work with companies who are ready to improve their workplace practices and turn around the culture.
If you’re currently trying to determine if you are in a toxic work environment, check out the following articles, Toxic Workplace Checklist and Is my Workplace Toxic.
The short answer is, yes! Yelling in the workplace is harassment, but there are many elements to breaking this down. This is why I’m going to address several elements that contribute to workplace harassment and recommend appropriate actions. Before diving in, I want to make it clear that I will not be providing a legal definition or legal advice when it comes to workplace harassment. I’m not a licensed attorney and the views stated in this article are just my opinion on the topic.
Over the years, I’ve heard many horror stories of how yelling in the workplace and verbal harassment can lead to workplace violence. In many places, the act of yelling in the workplace may be considered as harassment, especially verbal harassment. In such cases, uncontrolled yelling can lead to a hostile work environment or a risk of violence. When there is a lack of accountability from HR and management, things can easily get out of control and end up creating a hostile atmosphere for everyone.
I recommend that you check your state law and federal law to know what type of legal action you can take. It is also helpful to meet with an attorney to discuss your case specifically. When it comes to any form of harassment, it is best to get a hostile work environment attorney involved. Before diving in, I’m going to answer a few frequently asked questions when it comes to toxic work environments.
If certain actions make YOU feel uncomfortable, nervous, or unsafe, you are never overreacting. You have a right to your feelings. You also have a right to voice those concerns and ask for action to be taken.
Going to work every day and dealing with someone yelling at you can lead to mental health problems, decreased work performance, depression, anxiety, and so much more. Abusive behavior should not be tolerated in the workplace. Your supervisor, HR, and additional management members should handle your case quickly and with repercussions for the person committing the inappropriate act.
This is not a time to question your level of sensitivity. Also, do not let anyone in your workplace gaslight you or make you feel like this is normal and acceptable behavior. Any reasonable person will understand how this can and will impact you negatively.
Yelling in the workplace can cause significant emotional distress. Even witnessing the abusive behavior can create and trigger trauma. For victims of verbal harassment, it can leave lasting effects. Experiencing offensive comments, discriminatory behavior, threats of physical violence, or a yelling boss can take a toll on your confidence and self-esteem.
These behaviors can also cause you to feel unsafe resulting in you being on edge every day. No one deserves to feel this way at the place they clock into each day. If you are feeling like this, please let someone with authority and someone you trust know ASAP.
Abuse can show up in a variety of ways in the workplace. Abuse is often targeted, intentional, and done with malice. When done regularly, it is considered harassment with ill intent. There are several ways that abuse can show up in the workplace. Below are a few examples:
These are some of the characteristics that contribute to a toxic work environment. If you landed on this article, you may also find my other articles regarding toxic work environments helpful. I recently published Toxic Workplace Checklist and Is my Workplace Toxic.
Harassment occurs when a particular group of people (or one person) is targeted and experiences unwelcome conduct on a regular basis. Unfortunately, this is something that can happen to anyone at any time. Examples of verbal harassment include yelling, name calling, accusations, racial and gender specific slurs. The level of awfulness for those who have experienced this type of behavior is indescribable.
When dealing with harassment in the workplace, you need to take this into your own hands quickly and efficiently. You should start by reading your company policy. Typically every company has a workplace harassment policy that outlines reporting procedures. The reporting procedures usually walk you through filing a formal complaint.
When you first begin to identify the behavior, make sure you take notes! Documentation is key when dealing with and reporting a workplace harassment claim. Capture the date, time, and location of each incident as it occurs. Make sure to always scan the room to identify witnesses that you can name in your case.
In any work environment it is important you look for allies and colleagues you can trust. Align yourself with these people so that they can provide support and walk you through this process. Also make sure to explore your legal options with a licensed attorney to learn what you are entitled to in this type of situation.
Being on the receiving end of yelling in the workplace can damage your self-esteem and confidence. When coaching my clients, I always suggest the following books and journals.
This self-love workbook is incredible for encouraging daily self-reflection, answering introspective questions, and helping you recognize and remember your worth. For less than $20, you can be on your way to boosted confidence and relief. You can purchase this workbook on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3SQpxMd
This is one of my favorite workbooks for my clients. Toxic work environments have a way of creating self-doubt and diminishing self-compassion. This workbook helps you create boundaries, recognize your value, and helps you recommit yourself to demanding what you deserve. This workbook is less than $10 on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3F1kd2O
I’m a fan of books that tell it like it is and gives you a dose of inspiration and actionable steps to take. Andrew Leedham is fantastic at helping boost your confidence and making decisions unapologetically. Available here https://amzn.to/3KXNuPP
Remember, you are not required to stay in a toxic environment and experience verbal harassment and yelling in the workplace long-term. You are too talented, marketable, and competent to settle for destructive and discriminatory behavior. I don’t care if you just started the role or have been there for years. The behavior is unhealthy and you don’t have to tolerate it.
If no one is helping you and the process is dragging on, it may be time to make a career move. In my article, how to quit your job without feeling guilty, I talk about overcoming quitting guilt and addressing the most asked question, Is 3 months too soon to quit a job.
If you take away anything from this article, it’s this. Remember that you deserve to be treated with respect and kindness at work every day. Yelling in the workplace is not normal and it is a form of harassment that you do not have to deal with.
Wishing you growth, healing, and solutions.
Cheers to your success!
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