Dealing with workplace harassment, bullying and discrimination to create a respectful workplace

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Here's a FREE selection of articles that address many different problems and situations in your workplace.

ARTICLES

#3
MAKING FUN OF THEIR "OWN"

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When someone makes a negative or insulting joke or comment about another group of people, that should be easy (or easier) to deal with. However, when the comment or joke is directed towards themselves, then we’re often at a loss because we’re not sure where the “politically correct” line is. Comedian Chris Rock said to the late Ed Bradley during an interview on 60 Minutes something like “I have a G.E.D., not a Ph.D. and even I can figure out that I can make comments about a group I belong to, and others can’t." That was in response to his generous use of the “n” word that Bradley and others didn’t like. It’s like the old American Express commercials, “Membership has its privileges.” That might explain why a person can get away with making such a comment or joke, but that doesn’t mean you and your workplace has to accept it.

 

The problem arises when others think they too can make such comments and miss out on the point of the Rock interview. Or other employees and clients might overhear those comments and think they are being condoned at the workplace. It is best to set a standard that is equal when comments or jokes are made that clearly cross the line. Acceptable humour that is not offensive, but points out funny cultural or gender differences is usually not an issue.

 

TRY THIS:

 

Be upfront that what people say on their own time, away from work, AND it doesn't have a negative impact at work, is none of your business. Therefore, words, terms or jokes that are acceptable within each person's personal lives are choices we make.  However, when these same words, terms or jokes bother other people at work, then we need to draw the line somewhere.  An employee can get very upset that you are censoring her with language she is familiar with and is more than fine using.  However, you have to get across that there are limitations to what we can say at work and then discuss why her certain words are causing a problem...or you are concerned they may cause a problem in the future.

 

HOW ABOUT:

 

“I want to talk to you about some comments (or jokes) you make, such as___. I’m quite sure you see nothing wrong with them because you’re _____ (Polish, Mexican, gay) but on their own, these comments would be considered offensive, or inappropriate and I don’t think they should be said at work.”

 

“You know that joke you made earlier today? I know you think it’s funny because it’s about your own heritage (etc.), but I’m concerned that others will think they can make similar comments and I’d prefer we not go down that road. I think a lot of people can understand the difference, but I’m not willing to chance that others will slip up.”

 

“I’d like to talk to you about that term you use to describe yourself, or others who are ___. While you might see it as harmless, because it’s coming from you, I don’t want to take a chance that others overhearing will think everyone’s ok with that word and more importantly, that I condone it. I’d like to talk about this.”

 

 

Stephen Hammond, B.A., LL.B., CSP

 

If you have any questions, please contact Stephen.

Stephen's NEW Book

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© STEPHEN HAMMOND - HARASSMENT SOLUTIONS INC.    
 
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Here's a FREE selection of articles that address many different problems and situations in your workplace.

Here's a FREE selection of articles that address many different problems and situations in your workplace.

© STEPHEN HAMMOND HARASSMENT SOLUTIONS INC.
 
  
 
CONTACT