Guest post by Joseph Grenny, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High.
Joseph Grenny tells Portfolio.com that the best way to stop inappropriate behavior is to confront it “at its first showing.”
According to Grenny, “the problem with harassment is not only that it happens, its that most people who experience it say nothing about it to the offending party until its far too late. By that time, the behavior is often so egregious that it merits an enormous settlement or a lawsuit. But equally costly is the enormous loss of productivity and engagement from those involved. Employees can reverse the commonly held belief that the only way to deal with harassment is to take it, settle or quit.”
Grenny offers three strategies from Crucial Conversations to effectively halt harassment in the workplace:
Adopt a “three strikes and you’re out” approach. On the first offense, speak up immediately and ask for the other person’s commitment to stop. Don’t be subtle – be direct. Make it private and make it polite. That’s strike one.
Don’t confront the same problem twice. The first time you confront it, you’re asking for a commitment to stop. If after making the commitment, the person continues with the harassment, you now have to confront the new problem – the person’s failure to keep the commitment. This is a bigger problem than the repeated behavior. Privately, politely, and immediately point out the failure. Ask why it happened and attempt to get a commitment to change. Let the person know that if they break this commitment you will lose confidence that talking with them is sufficient. Tell the person that you plan to explore other options for correcting this situation. This is strike two.
Know your options. If the bad behavior happens again, it’s time to escalate. You’ve tried to talk things out without success. Report the behavior to HR or use other channels to prosecute your rights. Be clear on HR, legal, and other policies you have working in your favor in case the behavior happens again. Strike three.
Joseph Grenny is a New York Times bestselling author, acclaimed keynote speaker, and leading social scientist for business performance. For thirty years, Joseph has delivered engaging keynotes at major conferences including the HSM World Business Forum at Radio City Music Hall. Joseph’s work has been translated into 28 languages, is available in 36 countries, and has generated results for 300 of the Fortune 500.