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8.4 How do I speak to a person who I feel has behaved poorly towards me?

It can be extremely challenging to address negative behaviours when you have been on the receiving end.

It can be hard to separate the emotion which is entangled in the event and to remain objective. There may be a disparity in seniority. It is also hard to show compassion to the person you feel has hurt you, whether it was intentional or not.

However, the purpose of such conversations should still be to bring about an understanding and a change behaviour, not to blame and punish as outlined in Question 1 and demonstrated in Question 2 and Question 3.

It can be a productive step to speak up after such an event but you should not feel you have to do this alone.  You can raise your concern through another support pathway and ask for a conversation to be had on your behalf or with the support of a colleague if you prefer. They key thing is that you raise the concern in some way so it can be addressed.


If you wish to hold a conversation with the individual involved, here are some tips


There are some (not many) situations in which the poor workplace behaviour is compromising safety in the moment, and in those situations, it is paramount to ‘call it out’ immediately. But often, this is not the case. This allows time for the situation to have been diffused before the difficult conversation takes place. Consider a time after the event but close enough that both parties can remember it.  Whenever possible chose a time where you are in a positive mindset to hold the conversation e.g. not at the end of a shift, when you are fed and watered, when the other individual is in a receptive mindset.  This can be a challenge and is not always possible.


These conversations require a bit of thought and planning if they are to have the desired effect which is to make sure the apparent perpetrator is ok, and get them to realise the impact of their behaviour. Hopefully this will result in them modifying their behaviour so that negative behavioural patterns do not become a norm. It may be helpful to document your reflection (link doc on difficult communication episode) on the situation- see reflection on difficult interaction paperwork- to inform the discussion and the elements you wish to communicate.

  • remain calm and factual
  • make every attempt to keep accusation and judgement out of it
  • describe how you felt or perceived the event rather than what the other person ‘did’

Here a video with practice vignettes that you may find useful which comes from the PACERS civility Toolkit.  It is an American resource that is available freely online and contains an example of how the conversation could be conducted by the person who felt they were exposed to negative behaviours.


This can be a really challenging thing to do.  Get support and look after your wellbeing.  You may find our Module 1 "I feel that I have been bullied or undermined" helpful.