Career Woman

You’ve got this: How to deal with a lack of respect

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Dr Froswa’ Booker-Drew answers your questions, putting her years of experience and practice into the goal of solving those knotty problems that beset us, and assuring us: ‘you’ve got this’. If you’d like Froswa’ to look at your particular problem, email it to [email protected].

Question: One of my coworkers speaks to me with a total lack of respect. He’s not abusive as such, but the tone and language are as if he considers me to be stupid. I’m not. But how can I address this without making it seem like I’m neurotic?

In my days as a college student…let’s just say some years ago, I attended a Prince concert.  I was there with my best friend, Chris, and I continued to inform her that Prince was staring at me.  Although we were sooooo many rows from the stage, I was convinced he was looking at me and I needed to get to him.  How could he see all of the other women or anyone else for that matter when I knew his eyes were glued to me the entire concert.  Some may believe it was delusional.  Chris might tell you that I was dealing with a form of neurosis. I disagree with those assessments of the reality of that night in the early 90s.   It wasn’t neurosis, trust me…You, my dear, should not worry about the perception of being neurotic to your co-worker who obviously has a lack of professionalism. You are dealing with someone that seems to have a superiority complex or the inability to see how their actions impact others.  Whatever is the root cause of their behavior, you don’t deserve to be treated that way.  Although I am not there to hear the way you are addressed, it appears to be a form of bullying.  I am a firm believer that disrespect should not be tolerated.  In my opinion, I think you should have a conversation with your co-worker NOT about how you feel but your expectations for a productive working relationship.  Whenever you are addressing an issue with someone, do not use “You” statements.  First of all, it gives your power away.  Use “I” statements and let them know what is acceptable and unacceptable to ensure a positive, productive and peaceful working relationship.  Define your boundaries as well.  I’ve learned that sometimes people behave the way they do because there has been some boundary confusion.  Make sure that when you establish those boundaries that you are consistent with your co-worker.  Otherwise, sending mixed messages (I.e. laughing off a comment that was meant to be demeaning to you) after you’ve had the conversation can create a lot of confusion and for someone with those issues.  They will see it as an opportunity to run over you and any other boundaries you’ve created. Make sure that after the conversation, there is a recap sent in email to review the discussion.  This should be a two-way conversation and include what the co-worker needs for a productive relationship as well.  If the conversation lands on deaf ears, bring in someone on the job that can serve as a mediator to work through the situation with you like a well-respected, trusted colleague and if that doesn’t work, you should escalate the situation by speaking with a supervisor or documenting with HR.  Working in an environment that is belittling is not in your best interest and doesn’t serve you well.  Start the conversation–on your terms –in a safe place (define this as well—What do you need mentally, physically, etc. for it to work for you?).  You. Got. This.

About Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew

Dr. Froswa' Booker-Drew is a Partnership Broker. Relational Leadership Junkie. Connector. Author/Speaker/Trainer. Co-Founder, HERitage Giving Circle. She been quoted and profiled in Forbes, Ozy, Bustle, Huffington Post and other media outlets around the world. In addition, she has been asked to speak on a variety of topics such as social capital and networking, leadership, diversity, and community development to national and international audiences. This included serving as a workshop presenter at the United Nations in 2013 on the Access to Power. One of the most impactful life events for her was being a part of the documentary, Friendly Captivity, a film that followed a cast of 7 women from Dallas to India. Honors for her work include: Semi-finalist for the SMU TEDx in 2012, 2012 Outstanding African American Alumni Award from the University of Texas at Arlington, 2009 Woman of the Year Award by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and Diversity Ambassador for the American Red Cross. Graduating with a PhD from Antioch University in Leadership and Change, she also attended the Jean Baker Miller Institute at Wellesley for training in Relational Cultural Theory and completed facilitator training on Immunity to Change. She has also completed training through UNICEF on Equity Based Evaluations, and is the author of 2 workbooks for women, Ready for a Revolution: 30 Days to Jolt Your Life and Rules of Engagement: Making Connections Last as well as a writer for several publications around the globe.

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