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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

10 easy methods preventing Reasonable Work-Requests being misconstrued as bullying: Safety@Work initiative

10 tactics preventing  Reasonable Work-Requests be misconstrued as bullying: Safety@Work initiative 

I’ve been presenting my research findings to various consultancy groups, L&D, workplace safety and HR groups to raise awareness of the synergies between negative workplace culture and disrespectful online (and offline) conduct. One of the most frequently asked questions I've fielded has been, “What is the difference between reasonable management action and (online or offline) bullying and harassment?”
Many supervisors and junior staff are worried that reasonable work requests could be misconstrued as bullying, or aren't sure how to refuse a reasonable work-request from a co-worker or staff. This type of issue often arises when functions (or organisations) merge, and roles or responsibilities overlap. Confusion can quickly lead to anxiety, frustration and manifest as disrespectful or aggressive organisational interactions. In these situations, reasonable management requests or conduct can be taken out of context, or raised incorrectly.

Takeaway #1: In times of extreme organisational change or staff churn, peoples’ anxiety and frustration levels may be higher than normal. Be crystal clear about what constitutes reasonable work behaviour or work requests, and what constitutes unreasonable (bullying) conduct.

It is extremely important to be aware, and to communicate, the differences between reasonable and unreasonable workplace behaviour during times of immense change and uncertainty. The greater the changes at work, the more likely people will become anxious about their jobs, and frightened that their responsibilities will either increase to the point of exhaustion, or reduced to the point that they lose their position. 

Takeaway #2: How to recognise and make reasonable workplace requests/ conduct?

  •  1. Link the conduct or request to a clear and justifiable work-related need. 
  • 2. Raise the work-request in a respectful and equitable manner. 
  • 3. Communicate how the work-request takes into consideration (unusual) workplace circumstances.
  •  4. Explain the outcome/effect of the request (on the work area, agency etc.).

Other factors to consider when raising reasonable work-related requests include :
  • ·        is justified by a reasonable work-related need or requirement;
  • ·        is conducted in a respectful and reasonable manner that is both fair and equitable, and links the request to the workplace and/or the individual’s roles and responsibilities;
  • ·        takes into consideration the circumstances in which the request was raised, such as an unusual work occurrence or incident;
  • ·        considers the effect of the request; and
  • ·        consider the abilities of the individual being requested.

Takeaway #3: Refusing reasonable workplace requests must be grounded in a clear work need or requirement.

Reasonable workplace grounds for refusing a request from an employee must be grounded in a work need or requirement, such as financial (cost), ongoing or existing operational requirements, capacity to reorganise work schedules, the practicality of the arrangement, or the impact or effect on a team’s efficiency, productivity, or a negative outcome on a customer service. 

Takeaway #4: Behaviour or requests that could be viewed as unreasonable.

According to SafeWork Australia, unreasonable behaviour and/or requests relates to conduct that would be viewed by a reasonable person as unreasonable.
What this means in layman’s terms is that an external and neutral person would view the work-related request or conduct as irrational, excessive, unnecessary that victimises, humiliates, intimidates or threatens the recipient. According to Gallagher-Watson, unreasonable work-related behaviors include:
  • ·        vexatious allegations, claims, accusations or assertions are made against an individual;
  • ·        Information about an individual is not based on fact, rather it conducted as slanderous gossip or unsubstantiated rumour that is spread to embarrass or defame an individual;
  • ·        an investigation that is unbiased, grossly unfair and undermines an individual’s right to natural justice (the right to a fair hearing);
  • ·        behaviour that is conducted in an arbitrary or rude manner that is either repetitive or persistent;
  • ·        a request that appears to have no logical linkage or relation to the workplace, and may be seen as either irrational and unwarranted; and
  • ·        a potential or real risk to people’s health and safety. 

Takeaway #5: Unreasonable work-related requests can result in disrespect and bullying. Without interruption, online and offline disrespectful conduct escalates up through occupational violence continuum into bullying and abuse.

Workplace bullying is defined as persistent or repeated interpersonal aggression and power imbalance between a bully(s) and their target(s) that creates a risk to health and safety@work.

One or two incidents of unreasonable behaviour does not constitute workplace bullying.
However, if the behaviours continue and are not interrupted, then the conduct may worsen and without interruption, escalate through the occupational violence continuum. Read my article on occupational violence continuum, and if you think you need effective tactics to empower  yourself during workplace confrontations, then read my article, 5 steps to regaining your control and personal power in workplace confrontations. 

Takeaway #6: Avoid accidentally asking an unreasonable work-related request by being clear about the workplace need or requirement.

Ask yourself, does this managerial request link directly with my existing or new roles and responsibilities? If you’re the manager, does the request aligns to the person’s position? If it doesn’t, this is a great opportunity to clarify any new roles and responsibilities and how these link to the organisation’s strategic goals and mission, and performance agreement. 

Takeaway #7: Be honest and communicate the circumstances underlying any unusual reasonable requests.

If the reasonable request unusual, be honest and respectfully explain the extenuating circumstances. Confirm that the person feels able (in terms of skills and experience) to progress the request. Try not to assume that silence is evidence of acceptance, and analyse why someone may refuse your reasonable request.
I once asked an EL1 in charge of an IT area to organise an out-of-hours call-out list over Christmas/New Year was stunned when he categorically refused and then walked out of my office. In hindsight, this behaviour probably simply reflected the EL1 had a skill and confidence deficit, or was mismatched with the job. 20/20 hindsight is a wonderful thing! Frankly, in these cases I believe it’s best to arrange a work-around than to direct someone who may not have the necessary skills or experience to progress a work-task.

Takeaway #8: Reasonable work-requests allows time for respectful debate to imbue people with a sense of clarity, certainty and confidence.

Irrespective of our roles, responsibilities and workplace rank, every person is entitled to be treated with respect. Everyone is entitled to have the opportunity to be able to politely raise their concerns or disagreements, and encourage a respectful debate that enhances mutual understanding. Civil debate ensures everyone is clear about the work-task at hand, and feel confident about implementing it. 

Takeaway #9: Create a culture of mutual respect.

Organisations can move from aggressive to respectful cultures (culture = values, attitudes, beliefs, behaviours, norms) by a simple technique I’ve created entitled the Respectful Cultures Index, and which is based on the Civility, Respect and Engagement in the Workplace initiative.
My Index empowers all organisational members to participate in creating a corporate social contract that is modelled by everyone, irrespective of rank or position. This type of cultural shift has been proven through other research (CREW).  

Takeaway #10: Awareness, education and training.

Wherever possible, attend or offer managerial, respect and/or OHS training or courses to raise awareness of what constitutes bullying and harassment, how to manage people respectfully, and methods of handling difficult conversations. Obviously, there are a lot of courses out there that are linked to “how to make reasonable work-related requests.”

Dr Flis has a BA SSc and a PhD in organisational social psychology and works with individuals and organisations as a consultant, speaker and trainer. She uses her social science expertise to enhance interactions between organisations and the people who lead and work in them by fostering new insights for diagnosing organisational problems, and build new capabilities and culture.

Contact Dr Flis at, LinkedIn  or follow Flis on her blog Twitter or Facebook.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

30 potent netiquette tips to boost personal brand & effective communication: Safety@Work

30 powerful netiquette tactics to build your personal brand & powerful communication: A Safety@Work initiative

Be yourself image courtesy of
An former work colleague, Ruth, rang me a couple of days ago and said, “Can you do me a favour and write a quick blog about work netiquette, pleeeeeease?”
I said, “Sure, what’s up?” Ruth manages a legal branch in a government agency.
“It’s all these “time poor” people who consistently respond to my legal emails with “yep,” “K,” or a smiley face,” she explained. “I just think people have forgotten, or don’t realise, ALL online communications at are official documents that support  things like Freedom of Information Act requests, staff investigations and what not.” Ruth was also concerned about a rise in email templates when dealing with external clients and said, “We’re starting to look and sound like a bunch of stuffed shirt, with no thought into how our online communications support the agency’s brand and reputation.”
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Use netiquette to create a personal brand

Let’s face it, one of the most powerful things you can do for your career or business is to create a personal brand that make you stand out from the crowd. If you are known to be highly professional, respectful, and consistently deliver great support, and are a pleasure to deal with, then you will simply attract more business and success.
So, here are 30 potent netiquette ploys listed under four key takeaways.

Key takeaway #1: Use design thinking in your communication to build rapport, credibility and interest with your clients
  1. Use design principles to create value by simplifying complex ideas into digestible parts, consistency, attracting attention through emotional response and creating opportunities.
  2. For email, design an email’s subject line to let the reader gain an understanding of the correspondence. Give a descriptive phrase in the subject line of the message header that tells the topic of the message such as “12 August  meeting | Agenda items.”
  3. People are more likely to read something that is personalised with their name, and this helps build rapport. However, you will quickly turn people off by misspelling their names, gender or honorifics. I know myself that receiving an email to Mrs Lawrence is a turn-off because I associate that with my mother. This can be key in mass reach-outs.
  4. Roblyer and Doering recommend clearly identifying yourself and your role or position in the introductory sentence (this can also be reflected in your  signature block). Begin messages with a salutation and end them with your name.
  5. Avoid using knick names.
  6. When first introducing yourself, use the stakeholder’s full name initially (such as Dr Smith, or Ms Harvey). Subsequent correspondence can employ first names IF the client’s email response uses their first name .
  7. Pawel Grabowski, recommends including a signature (a footer with your identifying information) at the end of a message that includes
    1. Include a link to your Linkedin profile. It will help a prospect validate that you’re a real person,
    2. Show any accreditations you may have.
    3. And link to your latest blog post to let them think about you as a knowledgeable resource.
8.     In the body of your email or message
    1. Avoid sarcasm. People who don't know you may misinterpret its meaning.
    2. Respect others' privacy. Do not quote or forward personal email without the original author's permission.
    3. Resist the temptation to embed data and tracking links to track clicks or inserting generic anchor text, such as “click here” to entice a response. This can make your polished copy look like spam, as people may become diverted away from your email or become worried about the information hidden under the link. Instead, provide the link’s full URL or be specific about link’s information, thereby satisfying potential privacy and security concerns while still preserving your call to action.
  1. Acknowledge and return messages promptly.
  2. Copy with caution. Don't copy everyone you know on each message.
  3. No spam (a.k.a. junk mail). Don't contribute to worthless information on the Internet by sending or responding to mass postings of chain letters, rumors, etc.
  4. Be concise. Keep messages concise—about one screen, as a rule of thumb.

Key Takeaway #2: Take time to build credibility, integrity and authenticity

  1. Use appropriate language in line with your client’s professional environment.
  2. Make use of the grammar and spelling software prompts.
  3. For new clients, stakeholders or co-workers, introduce yourself and build rapport in the first paragraph.  Maintain consistency and quality in ongoing communications.
  4. If relevant, existing current clients, particularly those viewed as highly reputable, and past achievements,
  5. List key sponsors, Board members or investors that are relevant to the issue at hand.
  6. Be clear about the issue you are writing about. Your topic should directly link to the subject line.   
  7. Keep your email short and attach any information, guidance, information that extends over two or three short paragraphs.
  8. And close off with a clear call to action.
  9. Be cautious about using emoticons (emotion icons) or common acronyms (e.g., LOL for "laugh out loud") in professional emails, and keep in mind the organisation culture the client is working in. Emoticons may be viewed as unprofessional and can undermine your credibility if you don’t know the person well.

Key Takeaway #3: Display respect, professionalism and trustworthiness

  1. Use appropriate intensifiers to help convey meaning and avoid coarse, rough, or rude language, even if you client does.
  2. Avoid typing words or sentences typed in all caps.
  3. Draft it. If you are angry or frustrated about something and need to vent, save the email as a draft and save it for later, When you’ve calmed down, read it and decide if it’s really necessary as once you send an angry work email it can’t be retrieved and it may later be used as proof of cyberbullying.
  4. Use asterisks surrounding words to indicate italics used for emphasis (*at last*).
  5. Use words in brackets, such as (grin), to show a state of mind.

Key Takeaway #4: Show that you’re different by personalising and customising corporate templates

  1. Template sections of your email enhances efficiency, outreach, and avoids grammatical errors and spelling mistakes that may otherwise creep in. Be careful here! Rmail templates are generic, formal, and impersonal, and are generally used when launching a particular product or offer.
  2. Pawel Grabowski suggests the language in your email naturally flow and be somewhat personalised to suit the receiver. This is important for existing clientele who use jargon or expressions specific to their milieu, such as the legal or medical professions. This personalisation elicits an emotional response from the reader.
  3. Retain elements of the template relating to the launch or product offer.
  4. For new or irregular clients, a templated email is more likely deleted as spam. We all receive too many of these emails in our inbox these days so you now need to catch a person’s eye by quickly providing you’ve researched their business “pain point(s).”
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"20 Killer Tactics to Staying Sane in Toxic Workplaces" ** Dr Flis has a BA SSc and a PhD in organisational social psychology and works with individuals and organisations as a consultant, speaker and trainer. She uses her social science expertise to enhance interactions between organisations and the people who lead and work in them by fostering new insights for diagnosing organisational problems, and build new capabilities and culture.

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Wednesday, 15 June 2016

6 tactics to stay sane despite working in a toxic workplace: Safety@Work

How to remain an ethical, high performer in toxic work environments - 6 tactics: Safety@Work

Talking to “Jim” today, an engineer now running his own business, I was interested to hear why he decided to leave the public service (I hadn't realised he'd been a public servant). Jim described being very happy in his initial roles as an engineer in a small agency that expanded rapidly as a consequence of an amazing CEO, and had decided to expand his career through a Masters in Marketing & Sales. 

He won a promotion in that field and relocated to the new agency.  Jim shook his head, looked at the ground and said, “In hindsight I realise accepting that promotion in sales was a dumb decision.”

Jim described marketing and sales as a different tribe to engineers, and quickly found he wasn't a good fit. He struggled to manage the complex people issues in his Branch, as his previous managerial roles had been as a specialist. “f really struggled with the communication,” Jim said, “if you’re managing people you have to be able to communicate across a number of levels, and be aware of the impact of what you say and do.”  He also described his surprise at the intense combativeness exhibited by his colleagues at the executive level, and said he found it was too toxic for him.

Image courtesy of

Staying sane despite working in a toxic environment.

So, let’s cut to the chase. We all accidentally fall into situations that looked pretty good at the time (a promotion, or a job that we thought would look great on our CV) that quickly became toxic. In these situations, it's hard not to feel stuck and a bit panicked. So, how do you remain professional, effective and maintain your personal brand of authenticity so you can leave and find a better job? 

1.     Consciously choose to accept this as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and how you handle difficult situations.  

Despite feeling stuck in this toxic workplace, you do have choices. You now have a choice about how you decide to deal with the toxic environment, and what you learn from the situation, and how you use these "learnings." In the short to medium-term, highly challenging or difficult situations are great opportunities to be more self-reflective and get to know ourselves better - what really makes you tick, and how do your personal values influence your attitudes. This additional clarity is invaluable when seeking your next job. If you take this as an opportunity to enhance your own self-awareness and self-reflection then you are more likely to analyse your colleagues’ behaviours and control your responses. This change in perception is empowering, especially once you realise your colleagues’ behaviours are not about you at all. Just be cautious about hanging around in the toxic environment too long as research has found that long-term negative work environments can erode your authenticity, well-being and work performance.

 2.   Remain true to your personal values in your service to others

While there’s no need to actively rub people’s noses in their childish workplace behaviours, you can choose to demonstrate your values by retaining your professionalism and treating others with respect (irrespective of their role or position), and in doing so, display your resilience and true grit. What I’m talking about is consciously and actively “stepping up” and deciding to be the best that you can be DESPITE the current situation. Research has found that people who consciously decide to retain their values in stressful situations increase their likelihood of retaining their personal power - this requires a high level of conscious mindfulness. This choice gives you a greater capacity to maintain your ability to deliver at work, and retain your professional reputation as an ethical high performer. This is important for future job prospects.

3.     It’s not about you, and it doesn’t have to make sense. 

Organisational social science researchers found that individuals who exceed accepted organisational performance norms are punished by their peers or colleagues, usually through “subtle or covert aggression, such as sabotage, ostracism, or “back-stabbing.” A recent Forbes article suggested that in these situations, you may unexpectedly find colleagues attempting to grab your high performing project or staff for themselves to piggy-back off your efforts or undermine your ability to deliver. You may also find yourself isolated as colleagues talk over you in meetings or mob you, stop sharing information unless they want something. You may discover your boss is blackballing you from important meetings. The Harvard Business Review recently reported threatened bosses are likely to bully you with “non-physical aggression, such as ridiculing [you], putting [you] down in front of others, accusing [you] of incompetence, blaming [you], lying to [you], or not giving [you] credit for [your] work.”  Research confirms these counter-productive behaviors erodes organisational  productivity and employee trust, and simply doesn’t make rational sense. However, it’s is not about you, and in a weird way, this unconscionable behaviour can be viewed as affirmation that you’re performing at a higher standard. After all, no-one bothers to try to knock down under-performers (why bother).

4.     Take time out to detox

Experiencing, and observing, toxic workplace behaviour takes an emotional and physical toll.  Be self-compassionate and take time to detox the build-up of negative emotions and feelings by walking or running in the park before work (or at lunch-time or after work). Take a long-weekend or take the family to the beach or head to the bush for a week. Go to the gym, read a favourite novel, watch a funny movie. Detox mentally and physically. Your body will quickly tell you that the stress levels are creeping up - you will struggle to sleep through the night without waking-up at 3am worrying, lose your appetite, feel nauseous on the way to work, suffer headaches, increased heart rate and/or blood pressure. Before the stress levels become severe, talk to someone who can help you organise regular physical and mental-health breaks, and definitely seek advice from a health professional such as your local GP. Recognise the stress, and detox.

5.     Team up with other ethical high performers and experts. 

I've always found ethical, high performers and experts are incredibly easy to spot. Go to a conference or workshop and they’re usually the relaxed person in the middle of a group of relentless net-workers. They may also be the quiet ones looking thoughtful, and listening to others and nodding their head. People generally gravitate to ethical high performers as their work ethos and reputation means they are actively sought after as a sounding board for advice or guidance. So, use your time to team up with other ethical, high performers and experts in your organisation, or in other organisations and develop a rich support base.

6.     Leave for a better job. 

Before the toxic workplace erodes your self-confidence, organise a better job and leave. You may want to stay and fix the organisation - try to avoid this altruistic impulse and look after yourself first.  Find a better job by listing your work values and ethics, and researching advertised positions that align to them.  Unadvertised positions can be found through your professional network. Talk to other ethical high performers and see if they know about temporary or full-time positions in their agencies. Without going into the details, flag your interest with your former boss(s), colleagues, clients, stakeholders, as these contacts may know of the perfect role for you. Even if this job might take a few weeks or months to manifest, you now know the current situation is temporary.
 Dr Flis has a BA SSc and a PhD in organisational social psychology and works with individuals and organisations as a consultant, speaker and trainer. She uses her social science expertise to enhance interactions between organisations and the people who lead and work in them by fostering new insights for diagnosing organisational problems, and build new capabilities and culture.

Contact Dr Flis at, LinkedIn  or follow Dr Flis on her blog, Twitter or Facebook

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

6 risk management strategies to interrupt negative workplace behaviours

While visiting family recently I was talking to two ladies, "Jed" and "Dani" about their work experiences in State education and human services. I was surprised when Dani, a lady in her 60s & a highly respected member of the family, related recently being relocated to a different team after ticking “yes” to the “Are you being bullied in your team?” question within her school's annual “health” survey. Dani said she hadn't previously reported the long-term bullying because she'd thought she was supposed to just “suck it up….isn’t that what everyone does?”

So, I'm now wondering… how many people feel "stuck" in disrespectful, bullying and harassing work environments and feel they have no other option but but to “suck it up.” Is this similar your experience, or someone you know? Email and let me know at


Why ignoring intimidating or bullying behaviour is bad for you, for your co-workers, concerned friends & family, and for workplace safety.

I know it can be very hard to assertively confront bad workplace behaviour, especially when you're in the middle of it and feeling hounded and cornered and perhaps worried about your job. However, if you ignore it the behaviours will only get worse and affect not just you, but your co-workers, and concerned family and friends. Indeed, research has consistently found that, without intervention, the continuum of occupational violence inevitably escalates from online or offline disrespect and intimidation into bullying, harassment and mobbing, to verbal and cyber assault and aggression. If you want to learn more about the occupational violence continuum, read this linked article.

Ignoring negative workplace behaviours is now viewed as an untenable risk to people’s well-being and organisational safety, and is seen as unproductive and uneconomical. Workplaces characterised by high levels of bullying, interpersonal abuse and aggressive organisational behaviours also report heightened employee stress and unscheduled absenteeism as people withdraw from the work environment, resulting in unproductivity. In Australia, nearly 2 million employees out of an 11.6 million strong workforce report face-to-face bullying. This behaviour alone costs the national economy between $6 – $36 billion dollars annually in employee absenteeism, recruitment and training, health and hidden expenses. Psychological injury claims are now so bloated the costs are significantly effecting organisations’ compensation premiums.

Additionally, over half the adult participants in a 2013 survey across 10 countries reported cyberbullying, cyber-harassment and cyber-stalking occurring over work-related sms, email, and social media technologies led to heated face-to-face interactions and eroded employee privacy. This behaviour is also seen as risk to workplace safety.

One way to mitigate this risk is to use some or all of the risk management strategies listed below, which are designed to allow you to take back control of the situation and help you realise that it's not about you. 

Six risk management strategies


 Risk management strategy #1: Identify and clarify the behaviour you are experiencing.

Takeaway: Classifying negative workplace behaviours helps you realise that this is not about you. It is the first step to regaining your power & control. This is empowering!

Do you find that the workplace confrontations or interpersonal aggression is eroding your ability to defend yourself, undermining your confidence and making you hate coming to work, and decreasing your productivity? Is the negative behaviour conducted face-to-face or across workplace communication technologies (e.g., email, social media, telephone), or a mixture of both? Do you feel defenceless to protect yourself due to a real or perceived power imbalance with the perpetrator?

 Do you feel threatened and unsafe at work? You need to know exactly what behaviour you’re dealing with and how it is affecting you - one way is to Google “workplace bullying” or “workplace discrimination” or “workplace harassment” so you are across the definitions and the detail. Identifying and clarifying the behaviour is the first step to empowering yourself and taking back control, particularly as you realise that this behaviour is more about the perpetrator, not you!

        Risk management strategy #2: Document the behaviour.

Takeaway: Journalling the negative workplace behaviour is cathartic - it helps purge you of the toxic emotions & clear your head. Journalling helps you realise that this is not about you and develops clear evidence that will protect you.

Even if you have absolutely no intention of reporting the behaviour to HR, your supervisor or your union, you may be called upon to provide evidence proving you are not bullying the bully. Why do I say this? Research has found bullies are often more conversant with organisational processes and will use these to protect themselves from being investigated particularly if they sense you may be lodging a complaint. Documenting the behaviour is part of your risk management strategy. Your documentation must include the dates and times of the events, who else was present, what was said, and the outcome. 

If you think a worksheet would help you document this behaviour, email me at and I’ll send you the one I've developed. If nothing else, the actual process of journalling and analysing the events will activate the rational side of your brain (humans tend to respond emotively to bullying and other aggressive behaviour, and it's incredibly hard to think through an issue if you're feeling scared or afraid - there's quite a bit of research about this side-effect). The very act of journalling the events can be cathartic as you increasingly realise the behaviour you're experiencing is unacceptable (e.g., ask yourself, "would I do this to someone?").

     Risk management strategy #3: Report the behaviour to your organisation’s HR or OHS representative.

Takeaway: Officially reporting your evidence regarding the negative workplace behaviour, and its effect on your sense of workplace safety, helps to regain your confidence and control of the situation.

Look, I know HR generally is often castigated about their response to employee bullying complaints (my six months in an HR area demonstrated that while most HR staff mean well,they are either over-worked, untrained, unsupported, or being bullied themselves - I didn't hang around long!). However, I still recommend you sit down and calmly and rationally (this is really important!) share a copy of your documented evidence with HR, and/or your supervisor (or their boss). 

Be crystal clear that the workplace behaviour is making you feel unsafe at work and eroding your productivity and well-being.This languages links to OHS and WHS laws. The matter should then be officially filed and hopefully investigated by an external agency. Be careful of offers of mediation. While mediation is useful in dispute resolution between peers, it is ineffective where one of the individuals involved feels powerless to defend themselves.

Remember, this is also about risk management in case the bully reports on you first (as I've said above, research has found that this can happen). I also recommend asking a neutral “party” to accompany you to this and any future meetings, such as a friend, mentor, work coach, family doctor, legal or union representative.

     Risk management strategy #4: Seek advice, guidance and/or counsel from neutral, external sources.

Takeaway: You are entitled to seek external advice or counsel, especially if you think the negative workplace behaviours are defaming your professional reputation, or you doubt the organisation's ability to protect you.

Let’s say you've now reported the matter to HR and they advise that they will now investigate it, and to not talk to anyone about your complaint.  Or your organisation doesn't have an HR area. In such cases, you can seek advice, guidance and counsel from a number of external authorities. These include:
  • 4(a) The Work Safety agency in your State or Territory (see list below) can provide advice about your workplace rights under relevant Australian OHS and/or Work Health Safety laws.
o   WA 1300 655266
o   NT 1800 019 115
o   QLD 1300 362 128
o   NSW 13 10 50
o   ACT (02) 6207 3000
o   VIC 1800 136 089
o   TAS 1300 366 322
o   SA 1300 365 255
  • 4(c) The Commonwealth Fair Work Commission (1300 799 675) may be able to raise a stop workplace bullying notice under the Fair Work Act.
  • 4(d) The Fair Work Ombudsman (13 13 94) can advise on your workplace rights and rules, and the protection you have against harassment and discrimination.
  • 4(d) You can also make an appointment with your doctor and ask to be referred to a psychologist for personal support.

    Risk management strategy #5: Seek legal advice about your rights and responsibilities and those of your employer.

Takeaway: Cases of professional defamation are on the rise due to online/offline bullying & harassment. Protect your reputation, career & financial security by seeking legal advise.

This step can be important if you are facing workplace defamation and are concerned about damage to your professional reputation and/or career, the impact of the defamation on your future job prospects, and the effect on your family’s financial safety. This issue is becoming prevalent for cyberbullying cases, but as research consistently demonstrates, human communications are messy, so one case is likely to include elements of both negative online and offline behaviours.  In addition to the links provided at, try Google-ing for workplace or employment legal advisers in your State or Territory.
   Risk management strategy #6: Report to your local police

Takeaway: Remember, your local police can help you if you feel threatened at work by abusive online or offline workplace behaviours.

If you feel threatened by abusive, bullying and aggressive online or offline workplace behaviours or communications, then report the matter to your local police, who can investigate under the Criminal Code Act. For non-urgent matters ring 131 444, except for Victoria where you will need to visit your local police station.

Dr Flis has a BA SSc and a PhD in organisational social psychology and works with individuals and organisations as a consultant, speaker and trainer. She uses her social science expertise to enhance interactions between organisations and the people who lead and work in them by fostering new insights for diagnosing organisational problems, and build new capabilities and culture.

Contact Dr Flis at, LinkedIn  or follow & "like"Dr Flis on Twitter or Facebook.