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Handling those workplace slights

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in HR Management,Human Resources

Two bawdy co-workers swap raunchy jokes within earshot of sensitive ears. A manager consistently mixes you up with another Asian woman in his department.

How do you handle such workplace slights? Turn to the company handbook? Ask human resources to intervene?

One expert, Freada Kapor Klein, recommends neither.

“What I’m advocating is a workplace that says everyone has a right to draw a line between appropriate and inappropriate,” says the author of Giving Notice.

“Treat people like adults and let them know when they have stepped on your toes.”

Rules don’t fix behavior. The best way to work, she says, is at a place where complaints are handled between the parties, not by the folks in HR.

Her advice: When an office slight occurs, find another employee or friend to whom you can turn to determine whether you’re overreacting. And, if you aren’t, if something truly offensive has just happened, you should talk about it with the offending person.

The benefit: The people involved in the situation can learn the lines that mark the boundaries of appropriate behavior.

And if they don’t learn? There’s always HR.

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