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‘Dressed down’ in front of co-workers

Published:Sunday | June 14, 2015 | 12:00 AM

QUESTION: Thank you for your very helpful advice to readers, which I'm now seeking. My problem is that when my manager goes about reprimanding me, he always has to have an audience. Consequently, I am always being 'dressed down' before my co-workers, canteen staff - anywhere there is a gathering. If I complain, I'm told that if I'm unhappy or uncomfortable, I could leave, as nobody is holding me at the company. What do you advise?

- Wanda

CAREERS: I'm pleased you've found the column helpful. Many readers of The Gleaner Careers section have shared complaints, similar to yours, about how they've been treated by managers. I believe such treatment is unfortunate.

Your concern seems to be not that you're being reprimanded, but that it is being done publicly. That's important to note for the reason that even if you have done something to justify being scolded, you shouldn't be subjected to public humiliation.

Before focusing on the practical solutions to pursue, keep this fact in mind: you don't have ultimate control over what your manager does, but it is completely up to you how you choose to respond. The key mindset to adopt in this situation, however, is one of intelligent self-assertion.

Self-assertion doesn't mean you become belligerent and tell your manager a piece of your mind, or trade public insults before co-workers and canteen staff. It means a refusal to feel helpless, intimidated and fearful. It means making the decision to assert your right to be treated fairly and with respect at work.

To begin, assert your right to ignore his intended humiliation. Oftentimes, when we feel insulted and disrespected by others, we forget that we can choose to ignore the insult or intended disrespect. Sure, your manager can reprimand you in public, but why take it personal or be offended? As former American First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your permission."

Let's say he does the canteen reprimand. You can calmly say to him, 'Okay, Mr Manager, thanks for bringing that up, and can we talk about this after lunch when it's more convenient?' You can then slowly walk on, or converse with another co-worker. If that seems impractical to you, as it does for most people, you may take the following approach, however.

respectful, yet firm

You should speak with the offending manager to express your irritation at his public rebuke. Be respectful, yet firm. If he changes, then okay.

However, if he insists on continuing in this manner, take up the matter with his superiors.

In many of the cases readers write to me about, they've found it futile to appeal either to human resources or upper management, for one reason or another. However, don't neglect to do this.

At each stage, you should document the discussions and agreements arrived at. In case you're fired or otherwise dismissed without just cause and due process, this record will prove invaluable.

Finally, you should accept the truth that, yes, you can seek another job. You might be scared at losing this job, but it's quite possible a better one is out there waiting for you.

n Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of 'From Problems to Power' and co-author of 'Profile of Excellence'.