Ask Amy: Silence verbal abuse

Ask Amy: Silence verbal abuse

Stop hurtful and embarrassing comments.
Mar 01, 2009
By staff

I'm a technician. One of the doctors at the practice says things that hurt and embarrass me. I told the office manager, but she says I'm being oversensitive. Now I'm afraid to say anything. Any suggestions? —TOO TOUCHY


Though hard to believe, some people don't know when they're being cruel. If you haven't already told the doctor that his comments upset you, you need to. No matter who makes the offense—a client, a co-worker, your boss—it's always acceptable to calmly and professionally say, "That remark was inappropriate and hurtful. Please don't talk to me that way again." Whether you're thin-skinned doesn't matter. The guilty party is now on notice of what's offensive.

If the comments don't stop after you've talked to the doctor, go back to the office manager. Tell her the doctor is continuing to make remarks, and insist she take action. If she still doesn't do anything, you can try approaching the doctor again. In a composed manner, assert your right to be treated decently. If you get no response, it's time to go to the owner.

If the comments fall under the category of sexual harassment, don't hesitate to get the owner involved after the first failed talk with the doctor and office manager. You don't have to stand for sexual harassment. And, yes, practice owners want to hear about sexual harassment. They can face severe legal consequences if they don't keep their workplace free of this kind of behavior. —AMY