Dignity in the Workplace: Don’t Tear Down Your Coworkers

I once worked for a woman that I often referred to, with both anger and arch humor, as “The Dragon Lady.” With a regal haughtiness, she casually gave out withering assessments on my clothing, job aptitude and general workplace demeanor whether we were in private or not. Frustrated and hurt, I came up with the aforementioned nickname and would enthusiastically rhapsodize about her awfulness not only with my friends, but to my business colleagues, many of whom knew and interacted with her. For many years, I thought we were very, very different. She was mean and hurtful and I was the damaged party. Upon reflection, though, I discovered that we were very much alike. I should have never talked to people who dealt with her on a professional level behind her back. Therefore, neither of us were practicing dignity in the workplace.

Jack Welch on “Dignity”

The memories of those years came flooding back to me after viewing an interview clip that has been trending since the death of esteemed American businessman Jack Welch this past Sunday. In the video, the former chairman and CEO of General Electric talks about the best way to address employees that may have momentarily lost your approval or that youʼve disagreed with from time to time.

As a primer, in her paper titled “Workplace Dignity,” author Kristen Lucas defines the concept of workplace dignity as, “a personal sense of worth, value, respect or esteem that is derived from oneʼs humanity and individual social position; as well as being treated respectfully by others.” These attributes seem incredibly important when confronted with the fact that most of us spend a great many of our waking hours at our jobs.

HRM, the news site of the Australian HR Institute, continues that detail by listing that factors such as overwork, abuse of power and micromanagement of employees can lead to a lack of workforce dignity. Unsurprisingly, maintaining said dignity depends on keen communication skills. Rude and disrespectful relations between the employer and employee serve to break down nobility and self-worth. While this seems to frequently be due to the attitude of the person in power, I also now believe there must be more positive ways to deal with the situation than catty backstabbing. Believe me, mountain size portions of gothic gossip did not halt the acidic progress of my personal Dragon Lady one single bit!

There is no Dignity With Water Cooler Gossip

Therefore, a look at popular workplace website The Muse reveals a number of solutions for employees dealing with caustic bosses. Firstly, they recommend determining whether you really are dealing with bad leadership or if there is a legitimate point to the attitudes being expressed toward you. Follow-up steps include recognizing the offenderʼs motivation and not allowing it to affect your work. Staying one step ahead – IE anticipating your bossʼs reactions – and calmly setting boundaries with them are also mentioned as effective methods to dealing with the situation. Upon examination, all of these definitely feel like more constructive ways of approaching this problem than spreading unkind rumors that could ultimately backfire in your face. I should know.

Of course, if your boss is truly a nightmare, it might be time to look into a career change.

Need help crafting your resume for your next job?

If you’re currently looking for a job, it is in your best interest to make sure that your resume stands out above the others. Employers look through hundreds of resumes, so you want to make sure yours has the “wow” factor. Learn about our job search and professional resume writing services by emailing your resume to resumes@razoredgeresumes.com or give us a call at 1-800-730-3244.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.