I was slapped in the face by my boss. I'm male. She's female. My Excel file had an error in the calculation. Ok, so I messed up. But to be slapped? I fixed it and saved it out to the network. If I complain I guess I will just get fired. But I don't want to work for someone like this. How should I talk to her about it?
Its a horrible position you find yourself in, and I'm afraid it might be a tough few days or even weeks while you work through it.
As with the other "slap" related question on here, I'd suggest the best thing to do always is to take immediate action at the time.
In this case, I would calmly but firmly tell them that I wasn't tollerating that kind of action, logged off my computer, packed up my things and walked to either her immediate supervisor or the HR department to explain why I could no longer work with the individual concerned.
After the fact, it is always more difficult to resolve.
The most important thing to figure out is what you want to happen; this will be the first question any HR person or senior manager worth their salt will ask. Some ideas might be:
If you can manage to confront the individual in a calm way and simply state that their actions are unprofessonal and unacceptable, then you need to do this as soon as you can. I would avoid getting into any discussion - just meet with them one-on-one, say your piece, and leave.
If you don't want to meet with them, then go straight someone you trust and respect in senior management, on a parallel mangement tier or in HR, and explain what has happened. If there was a witness who you trust and respect, you might want to take them along as a support person.
It is unlikely that you are the first person to experience this kind of thing from the boss - if the feedback you get from the person you approach is unsupportive, then I'd suggest you are better off out of that organisation.
Remember, if you don't take any action to modify bad behaviour, then you are effectively condoning it.
Physical violence between fellow employees in the workplace is NOT OK. Particularly not with office work, as working with an Excel file would suggest. Perhaps if you are doing a physical sort of job (law enforcement?) or being engaged as a performing artist or pro wrestler - but these are cases that are usually exceptions under the law as consensual violent contact.
It doesn't matter if you are male and the offender is female, although I'll admit that the difference in gender causes a social perception difference. I can see a man getting more teasing about being slapped, while a woman would receive a lot of moral support. And my recollection of research is that men tend to underreport being the recipients of violence because of that stigma, and my not-stastically-representative personal experience has born that out. Men will take a lot more abuse from women because they are "just" women.
Speaking as a woman, I find that horrible. I don't care what your gender is, it's never OK to resort to violence, even if you think you are just joking around.
In any workplace issue where you are not OK with the behavior that another member of the work place has exhibited, you usually have several options that escalate the consequences for all involved:
In many countries and/or companies, a complaintant in a harassment case (and slapping can be seen as harassment) is supposed to be free of retribution, regardless of the outcome of the case. It isn't a 100% guarantee - it's important to know both your company's policy and the laws in your place of work.
I agree with @GuyM that immediately raising the issue is the best policy. It makes the occurence very clear to the attacker what the case in point must be, it makes it far easier to point out to just about anyone, and everyone's recollections will be clearer. Waiting tends to de-escalate an issue. I also agree with @GuyM that you have the right to demand not to work with the individual, but you may expect some degree of arbitration, as not every company will directly fire the violent manager. I'd recommend a less radical approach than ceasing all work until the problem is resolved, simply because failure to do assigned work could reflect poorly on you, and that's never really a good thing.
If it happens again, I would be very, very clear right away that the slap was not OK. Obviously if things have turned violent, you have the right to block the punch, but I'd advise against hitting back. If possible, use words and point out clearly, with no humor at all that this was unacceptable behavior. "You hit me and that was uncalled for. Never do that." is a fine response. The important part is to be very, very clear that this ISN'T funny. I've seen a lot of guys try to laugh it off when a woman does something physical that the guy didn't appreciate, and this is misleading for the woman, who may think that the laughter meant it was OK, when it was really nervous laughter and discomfort.
If it's a case of after the fact, I'd be tempted to look for an out of band channel that will give you an assurance of privacy. In a perfect world, you should be able to take it to your boss's boss and have her fired immediately (as I would suspect a woman could do in most offices in the US), but because of the stigma of being slapped by a woman, you may find it preferable to to go HR or a complaint phone line where your privacy can be somewhat protected.
I'm going to keep this simple. Report it to HR. This is harassment borderline physical abuse.
If you get fired over reporting this you would have a potential lawsuit any good lawyer would take up if you are telling the truth.
If HR responds correctly you probably will be getting either a written apology, a verbal one, or she just may get sacked for a zero tolerance clause in the hiring documentation.
Good luck either way, keep us informed on how this turns out.
That's she who behaves rude. You, on the other hand, should keep things professional and resolve conflict without losing your dignity.
You should talk to her (but do it correctly). The aim of this conversation is to figure out if:
I suggest the following:
I'd suggest to lead a normal conversation. Just ask her a few simple questions about what she thinks about the situation in non-emotional way:
Don't argue, don't be nervous, you just need to receive the answers - positive or negative. Clearly state that you are serious about the situation and that it's unacceptable so you won't leave it as is. Remember to keep things professional.
I think, there are a few most probable outcomes:
Did she slap you in the face or below the neck?
If it was in the face, you should report it to HR.
If it was below the neck, then you should use your discretion. How hard was the slap, etc.?
Obviously the sex of the actors matters
The force of the slap matters too. A hard slap might not cause any physical damage, but it certainly dampens the mood of a workplace. Others will immediately consider, "What if I screw up? Will he/she slap me in front of others? How would I react? How should I react?"
Even if you supplied extra details about the context of this incident, our responses would be inherently subjective. You'll ultimately have to consider "the facts of the case" and decide how you will respond.
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