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How to handle sexual harassment in work place? Face it with guts!

Updated on October 27, 2013

‘Sexual harassment doesn’t mean rape, it can be but it can also be something so simple as talking in a way that makes the other person uncomfortable.’ – Unknown quotes

Sexual harassment in your work place can cause immense mental torture in your mind. You work for your betterment and satisfaction, but when your male colleagues or boss makes suggestive comments you boil inside in rightful indignation.

What actually is sexual harassment?

  • Making calls during untimely hours
  • Sending vulgar messages
  • Making insulting comments
  • Making unwanted physical contact
  • Looking deliberately at unwanted places to make you feel uncomfortable

Sexual harassment has become very common in modern work places. When men and women work together, there should be mutual respect and friendship between them for a good and cordial working atmosphere. Not all men are prone to such sexual overtures. There are many men who are in fact very decent and protective towards their female colleagues.

What makes some men behave in such a crude manner?

  • They cannot accept the success of women and want to show their power.
  • They have a perverse mind.
  • They do not have proper upbringing
  • They do it just like that
  • Their family life is not satisfactory.

Whatever might be the reason; their behavior is atrocious and should not be tolerated. You should not fear such nastiness from your male colleagues. If you cower in fear, it prods them to be persistent in their indecency. You do feel unnerved when you face such an unwanted situation, but you cannot leave your job for these reasons.

Does that mean you cannot be friendly with your male colleagues? Of course you should be friendly with them as otherwise you will feel completely alien and a stranger. If you behave snobbishly, they form a group and the harassment increases. The trick is to handle them firmly and decisively.

The way you handle the situation should give the message that you will not tolerate such behavior from them. If you are rude and biting you will not be able to get the ‘beware’ message across to them. If you are Victorian in your behavior you become their target. If you are too forward they find it easy to approach you. The best trick is to choose the ‘in between’ way so that you are friendly with them and at the same time you are able to maintain a safe distance from them.

Things you should do to avoid harassment

Dressing in a professional way

Professionalism is not in the way you work alone. It is in the way you dress also. Whether at work or at home, it is very essential you dress in a way that evokes respect. Showing cleavage and too much of body assets is a big no. Neat, comfortable and respectable way of dressing make positive waves around you and men hesitate to take advantage.

Say ‘No’ to invitation to take you out

It is very surprising how women have changed. It is true you have to move ahead with time, but old values still hold good. Do you accept with ease, an invitation for a movie or a dinner from your colleague? You should refrain from accepting such invitations. Going out late night to far away places has some real bad repercussions and mostly proves to be a bad decision on your part.

Do not allow seemingly innocent physical contacts

When you allow physical contacts from your male colleagues it might tempt them to go further. A firm handshake, a warm smile, having lunch together during work time are all fine, as it is normal etiquette to do so. But slapping in the back in the name of friendship, kissing to express gratefulness, coy looks, enjoying vulgar and crude jokes are all a big ‘no’ in work place.

Do not share your personal matters

Women always like good listeners and when they see one, they easily open out. You might have personal problems at home and those problems should be sorted at home only. If you open out with your colleague, he might take it as an easy opportunity to make a sly overture.

Well, what should you do about the sexual harassment you face in your work place?

Face it headlong

You should have the courage to tell your male colleague that you will not tolerate such innuendos from him. You should not yell at him as it gives him an excuse to yell back to defend himself. Your voice must be firm and strong and the message that you are not a person to play with should be conveyed emphatically to him.

Tell the management

You should not hide it from the management as they will be able to help you. You can talk in person to them or give your complaint in a written form. When the management takes action, leave it at that and do not make it an issue always.

Chill him out

You can freeze him into fear by your regal behavior. Totally throw him away from your circle of friends and do not interact with him. If he talks to you, do not show your fury and talk to him in a cold and distant manner. If he is shrewd enough he is bound to realize that he cannot tamper with you.

Lawsuit in extreme cases

If the colleague continues his harassment because of his perverse nature, you can take him to court also. You should discuss your problems with a lawyer who deals in such sexual harassment cases.

You cannot leave your job because some nutty person behaves in an offensive manner with you. You should always chose the best of old values and the practicality of modern times so that you are friendly without being too friendly, well groomed without being too showy to maintain your respect. This makes the person stay away from you and he is forced to feel immense respect for you.

© 2013 mathira


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    • mathira profile image

      mathira 4 years ago from chennai

      When there is a dividing line, there is good friendship between colleagues of opposite sex. Thank you Benjamin for your visit.

    • profile image

      Benjamin Chege 4 years ago

      Hi mathira. Nice tips on how to deal with sexual harassment. I agree with you that there is now way a woman will tolerate a man, allow him to take her out and treat her as if they are lovers and expect him to be just a friend. Voted up and useful.