There are some sorts of workplace conflict that we need help to resolve even if we have really good communication skills.
There are different sorts of conflict that can happen in the workplace. Some clashes grow out of misunderstandings or people having different views. We can resolve most of these once we learn the right skills.
But there are other sorts of conflict which we are unlikely to be able to fix on our own. They involve things such as sexual harassment, violence and abuse, and bullying and intimidation.
These sorts of behaviour have several things in common. They involve someone trying to take power away from us, often in an attempt to get us to do something we don't want to. They also tend to happen in secret -- in a storeroom or maybe someone's office -- and somehow we feel it's our fault.
It's also common to feel that we can't tell anyone about it because it's too embarrassing. Or else we fear people will not believe us. The key thing to know is that if this sort of behaviour is not stopped it will continue. Here are some short descriptions of what these sorts of behaviour involve.
Sexual harassment is any kind of sexual approach, from a man or woman, that feels intrusive or uncomfortable. This can involve someone touching you, speaking to you in a way that feels sexually intrusive or disrespectful, or making comments about your sexuality that are diminishing or disrespectful. You are the judge of whether what has happened to you is sexual harassment.
Violence and abuse generally involve someone using fear tactics to get you to do something you don't want to. This can range from someone making snide or mean remarks, or calling you names, right through to physical abuse like pushing or punching.
Bullying and intimidation are a particular kind of abuse that involves stand-over tactics. They can happen between a boss and staff or between work mates. They involve people taking power over others by using fear, manipulation and threats.
If you are experiencing any of these sorts of behaviour it's important that you tell someone. Try and think of someone in your organisation whom you trust. Ideally it will be someone who has some power to help you stop what is happening. It might be your boss (if he or she is not involved), the human resources manager, a staff support person or a union rep.
Or find out whether your organisation has an employee assistance programme. This might give you access to an external counsellor from an agency like Relationships Aotearoa.
The important thing is that the abuse stops, the person or people involved take responsibility for their behaviour, and you are given support to deal with what has happened and its consequences.
If there are people within the organisation who can help you do this that's great. If not, you might want to seek help from someone outside. Relationships Aotearoa counsellors are skilled at working with people who have been abused in this way.