where is the line?

We’ve all said things, often unknowingly, that has upset one of our colleagues.  There’s a fine line between ‘banter’ (pet hate!) and bullying, but where is it?

The answer is a lovely shade of grey.

I’ve just reviewed some training that I delivered to one of my clients a while ago.  As a tech company that had grown rapidly, it had a great culture.  With a keen emphasis on creating a positive employee experience coupled with a great work/life balance, it didn’t have any deep-rooted cultural issues.  However, as an influx of new staff settled in, pockets of frustration and discontentment with one another started to emerge.

Working with some of the employees, I delivered a workshop that focused on key behaviours and mutual respect.  As part of the session, I took comments that I’d heard from around their business an incorporated them into one of the tasks.  In taking the comments completely out of their original context, it provided a powerful insight into how we can easily misinterpret one another.

I’m not about creating a culture where people are afraid to laugh or joke.  If you’ve worked with me then you have probably been subjected to my sarcasm, which isn’t for everyone!  It’s important not to stifle the working environment; most of us want to create some meaningful connections at work.

It’s obvious that what might be funny to you, or ‘normal’ for the way that you speak generally, may well be offensive to someone else – it seems like common sense doesn’t it?

The balance comes with knowing your audience, and if you don’t then you should be conscious of what you are saying and how it might be perceived.

In addition and equally as powerful, it’s important to develop a culture where employees feel safe enough to say “hey, enough is enough and I don’t find that funny” without fear or judgment.  You will often hear people referring to the training as they go about their day to day – some of it is tongue in cheek, but it’s apparent that the message was ‘heard’ by everyone.

Basics of mutual respect right? Sometimes we just need a gentle reminder.

Get in touch if you would like to know more – I’m always up for collecting more ‘statements’ to incorporate into my training so if you have come across any please do drop me an email.

Please email me if you would like further information or to discuss your requirements   rachel@sunstonehr.co.uk 

I’m a HR Consultant providing outsourced solutions to the SME market on a retained, project or ad hoc basis across the UK