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Let's say one employee was publicly harassing another employee. In theory, a manager would talk to each of them and get to the bottom of the issue. It's hard to imagine a scenario where an employee doing this public harassment ought to still be kept employed but that's neither here nor there.

So let's say after the manager talked to both of them, both parties were satisfied with the outcome. Divulging the details of the discussion could be an invasion of privacy but, on the flip side, since this harassment was done in public, the people who witnessed the harassment might, themselves, need some reassurances that all was well, as well.

My question is... how do you reassure witnesses to something like this without violating the privacy of the people most directly involved?

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how do you reassure witnesses to something like this without violating the privacy of the people most directly involved?

Gather all of the witnesses and speak to them privately. Explain that what they witnessed was not a professional behavior and that you have personally spoken to the original party and that the incident has been resolved. No details need to be given.

On the flip side, make sure that all is actually well before you attempt to reassure others that this is the case. Not doing so will likely result in a backlash if the original incident is repeated.

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"The matter has been dealt with to the satisfaction of all concerned, further discussion of the matter is discouraged as it will be unproductive and cause difficulties"

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    If you're taking this approach, consider whether it's necessary to clarify/reinforce the workplace rules. If the resolution was "Bob apologised for swearing at Pat and Pat has accepted the apology, so no action will be taken" you don't want employees misinterpreting the as "Bob swore at Pat and no action was taken, so apparently it's okay to swear at co-workers". – Geoffrey Brent Jan 13 at 0:15
  • @GeoffreyBrent sure, you could interpret it that way, if you would think that Pat is so weak a person as to find it acceptable to be sworn at, but it would be rather telling about your character – Old_Lamplighter Jan 13 at 13:49
  • The risk is not that people might think Pat found the swearing acceptable, but that they might think management decided it was acceptable. (And there are many reasons people put up with verbal abuse that have nothing to do with "weakness".) – Geoffrey Brent Jan 13 at 20:37

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