Do You Want to Go to Lunch?

It seems simple enough. You ask a colleague if he wants to go to lunch. He says “yes” and then invites a few more people. You also tell a few others to meet in the lobby. Next thing you know, a group is going to lunch.

Innocent enough, right? And when you are with this group, it’s fun. There’s a lot of laughter. While you are out, you decide there’s a new bar that you might all like and someone in the group starts organizing. And that’s why you like work so much. You are with your friends.

The question is, who are you leaving behind?

Exclusion in workplace is real. It can be a form of bullying, and there’s no doubt that it creates divisions. When I talk to upset employees, I hear the sadness in their voices. I see the melancholy in their faces. The victims tell me that colleagues chide them about their food choices, about their body type, or about their clothing. If you are thinking this behavior stopped in middle school, you are wrong. It’s unfortunately alive and well in our workplaces.

When I talk to the employees who are treating colleagues unkindly, there’s denial. “Oh, we didn’t mean it that way.” “Oh, she’s so sensitive.” “Oh, he said he doesn’t play golf, so we didn’t invite him.” Not only is the affected employee hurt and upset, they are also not very productive.

When I talk to senior executives about bullying, I hear, “It might happen at the lower levels, but not amongst the senior staff.” “Well, you can’t expect everyone to get along.” But bullying is expensive and there is usually some form of underlying harassment involved. For a detailed list of how much bullying costs, go here:

Workplace Costs

It is true that you don’t “have” to invite everyone, every time, but ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I talking disrespectfully about a person?
  2. If my behavior was recorded on video, would I be proud of my actions?
  3. Do I socialize with people who are different from me? People who are different ages or religions, people who have different gender preferences or different beliefs?
  4. How tolerant am I?

And if you are the target of workplace bullying, do the following:

  1. Tell your HR department.
  2. Request training for the entire organization.
  3. Request a corporate coach.
  4. Take care of yourself.
  5. Ask yourself, “Has this occurred in other places where I have worked or gone to school?” If this happens to you often, ask “What am I doing to contribute?”
  6. If the harassment feels threatening or violent, file a formal report and leave the company.

The best organizations cannot prevent bullying, but when bullying occurs, they take immediate action. They provide training and support. The best workplaces counsel the harassers and they aren’t afraid to terminate. They take workplace bullying seriously.

How inclusive is your workplace?

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