top of page

A Guide to Creating a Safe and Respectful Working Environment


In today's evolving workplace, fostering a culture of respect and inclusivity is of utmost importance. Inappropriate behavior, such as harassment, discrimination, or unprofessional conduct, can create a hostile work environment and negatively impact employee well-being and productivity. As an employee or employer, it's crucial to know how to address and call out such behavior effectively while maintaining a supportive and harmonious workplace. In this blog post, we'll explore the best practices for addressing inappropriate behaviour at work.

  1. Understand Inappropriate Behaviour

Before you can effectively address inappropriate behaviour, it's essential to understand what constitutes such behaviour. Inappropriate actions can take various forms, including:

  • Harassment: Verbal, physical, or visual conduct that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

  • Discrimination: Treating someone unfairly due to their gender, race, age, religion, disability, or other protected characteristics.

  • Unprofessional conduct: Actions that undermine the workplace's professional atmosphere, like rudeness, gossiping, or bullying.

2. Know Your Workplace Policies

Familiarize yourself with your company's policies and procedures regarding inappropriate behavior. This includes your organization's code of conduct, harassment policy, and grievance procedures. If you're uncertain about these policies, consult with your HR department or employee handbook.

3. Choose the Right Time and Place

When you encounter inappropriate behaviour, it's essential to address it promptly and professionally. Approach the individual privately, as it can help avoid embarrassment and defensiveness. Arrange a meeting in a neutral, quiet space where you can have a candid conversation.

4. Be Specific and Clear

When addressing inappropriate behaviour, it's crucial to be specific and clear about the behavior in question. Use examples and concrete language to illustrate what made you uncomfortable or violated company policy. For instance, say, "During the meeting yesterday, your comments about my appearance were inappropriate and made me uncomfortable."

5. Use "I" Statements

When discussing the issue, use "I" statements to express how the behavior impacted you personally. For example, say, "I felt uncomfortable when you made those comments about my appearance," instead of making general accusations.

To find some great tips on how to structure difficult workplace conversations why not check out this previous blog post 'Use the B.E.E.F Model to Correct Employee Behaviour'

Or check out our online course

5. Active Listening

Give the person an opportunity to respond and provide their perspective. Active listening is essential to understanding the reasons behind their actions and potentially resolving the issue amicably. This can help avoid escalation and maintain open communication.

6. Document the Conversation

After your discussion, document the conversation's details, including the date, time, location, and what was said. This documentation may be invaluable if further action is required.

7. Involve HR or Management

If the inappropriate behaviour persists or escalates after your initial conversation, it may be necessary to involve your HR department or management. They can provide guidance, conduct an investigation, and take appropriate action to rectify the situation.

8. Seek Support

You don't have to face inappropriate behaviour alone. Reach out to trusted colleagues or friends outside of work to discuss your experiences and seek emotional support. Their insights and perspectives can be invaluable during challenging times.

9. Follow Up

After addressing the inappropriate behaviour, follow up with the individual involved, HR, or management to ensure that steps are taken to prevent recurrence. Continuously monitor the situation and, if necessary, report any further instances.

Addressing issues around challenging behaviour at work proactively when they occur and not letting them fester in one of the key topics my co-author Ken Cameron and I talk about in our 5 Star Amazon book 'I Need To F***ing Talk To You - The Art Of Navigating Difficult Workplace Conversations'

You can now order copies of our book here.

"Sometimes conversations suck, but you need to have them, and this book lays out how. Russell and Ken have put together and road-tested simple, up-front, and thoughtful approaches to awkward and difficult workplace conversations."

Andrew Phung, CBC's Kim's Convenience

In conclusion, creating a workplace culture where inappropriate behaviour is not tolerated is a collective effort. Addressing these issues effectively is essential for maintaining a healthy and respectful work environment. By understanding what constitutes inappropriate behaviour, following established policies, and communicating assertively, you can help promote a workplace that fosters respect, diversity, and inclusivity. Remember that calling out inappropriate behaviour is not just about protecting your rights but also about contributing to a better and more productive workplace for everyone.

I hope you found this blog useful. As you continue your leadership journey, don't forget that here at Bluegem Learning we are always here to assist you.

If you'd like to hear more from business leaders about handing difficult workplace conversations, check out our podcast here, new episodes bi-weekly ...

Well that's it for this week. I hope you enjoyed the blog and I'll be back soon with more, until then ... be a leader not just a boss!

4 views0 comments


bottom of page