Insults from colleagues: What can I do?

Mr President, I'm sorry, you are an asshole. - Insults of this kind are obviously also heard in the Bundestag, as the example of Joschka Fischer shows. And in the workplace they are no longer a rarity - much to the chagrin of their colleagues and occasionally even superiors. What employees can do about colleagues who throw insults and when to speak of an insult to the legal sense, you can find out here ...

Insults: What is meant by this?
Insults: What is meant by this?Not every outrageous remark must be an insult against which workers can defend themselves before a court . If employees who feel offended should consider going to court, the most accurate definition of an insult is helpful.

As an insult, the courts regularly hear a statement or behavior that can attack or violate the other employee's honor. Important in this context is objectivity . An uninvolved listener or spectator should rate the behavior or the comment as a defamation. A purely subjective feeling of the offended colleague, however, is not enough.

In addition, other points play a role in the evaluation of the offense:

How is one generally dealt with in the respective industry? On the building certainly other customs prevail than in a bank. What counts here as rough handling tone , on a construction site is perhaps a normal conversation.

Have the employees involved occasionally friction or provoked a colleague before the other the insult was pronounced?

Is there evidence for the insult? Was it written down as an email, sms or any other way or did the offenses in the job occur orally ?

Are there any people who can testify to the insult or did they meet in a 4-eye conversation ?

Was the insult the first incident of this kind or did the two employees have problems with each other on a regular basis?

level of education
Also the school education of the employee who pronounced the insults plays a role. Employees with a high level of education are more likely to verbally restrain themselves.

So we see that there is no universal definition of the insult, since the exact circumstances of the case must be considered. Some insults such as asshole justify in the opinion of courts (Landesarbeitsgericht Schleswig -Holstein, AZ 4 Sa 474/09 and State Labor Court Rhineland-Palatinate, AZ 2 Sa 232/11) still no notice, while the combination of verbal insult and the showing of the middle finger can justify a termination.

Verbal abuse in the workplace: What are the consequences?
If a colleague insulted the other in the workplace, which may the peace operation significantly interfere. Supervisors are therefore urged to act against such behavior of individual employees as soon as they hear it - and for several reasons.

If the employee can continue to insult his colleagues undisturbed, he could feel confirmed in his behavior and only make it more colorful. In addition, the employer has his employee but also a duty of care and must therefore endeavor to ensure that the insults are terminated immediately in the workplace.

If the employer does nothing or not enough against it, this entitles the employee, who is exposed to the insults, to terminate the contract without notice. If the employee wants to defend himself even further against the insults, he also has good cards: If the employer allows the abuse, the employee is entitled to compensation . However, enforcing this claim in court can be difficult in individual cases.

However, if the employer is against the behavior of his employee, he also has several options . Insults against colleagues or even superiors need to be tolerated in any case and are at least one reason for a warning .

Since insults always involve breaches of the obligations arising from the employment contract, in serious cases it also justifies the termination of the employment contract - in exceptional cases, even without notice.

Massive insults can result in termination without notice
Massive insults can result in terminationThe State Labor Court of Rhineland-Palatinate in a ruling No. 4 Sa 350/15 ruled that massive insults of an employee can even justify a dismissal without notice to a colleague .

In the above case involved a nurse who one evening after closing time a colleague a text message with considerable insults sent. After the salutation with hello, asshole the woman was further offended and insulted. The insulted colleague showed the message to her employer, whereupon the sender of the SMS terminated without notice.

The woman sued against the dismissal in the state labor court, but had no success. Even the salutation of the colleague is a gross honor defamation there and must therefore not be tolerated by the employer. Such behavior is to a considerable extent contrary to the obligations of the employee resulting from the employment contract. Such a massive infringement justifies a termination without notice - the grounds of the Labor Court.

Insults from colleagues: What should I do?
If there is a colleague in your company who keeps insulting you and / or other employees, you should fight against it . The one who pronounces the insults must realize that he can not easily continue like this.

Do a book
Make a note as precisely as possible of when and with which words the colleague has offended you. If witnesses were there, be sure to list them. With a well-managed documentation , you have good arguments to complain to your supervisor about the behavior of the employee. And if it comes to a trial, the diary is also useful.

Give contraindications
Of course, the situation in the workplace should not degenerate so that you and her colleague throw each other insults to the head. Sometimes, abuses are also more subtle, and then it pays off to respond as passively-aggressively , so that your counterpart notices that he can not afford everything. If your colleague, for example, thinks that, in his opinion, the way the project works can not be successful, then kindly point out to him that he should reconsider his opinion.

Mirror the colleague
Under certain circumstances, the colleague is not aware of what he triggers with his subliminal insults at you. A simple trick to show him his behavior is just the same. In other words, like you, I love you! If your colleague regularly attacks you aggressively, do it a few times. With luck, your colleague will be thinking about his patterns of behavior .

Go away
All efforts on your part bring nothing? Then you should avoid the colleague as much as possible. Open arguments in the workplace and team conflicts are rarely promising. Presumably you will not be able to avoid working with a colleague from time to time. But also in the project group there are ways to escape the offending colleague . Choose a different team or choose a task that is not directly related to it. At least you do not have to work hand in hand.

Contact your supervisor
Whatever you do, the insults from the colleague will not be less. Then there is only one way out: you have to contact your supervisor. But do not go into this conversation unprepared . Gather evidence (your records from above) and, if possible, witnesses or other stakeholders who can confirm the insults.

If there is a works council in your company , you can also inform them about the employee's behavior. Under certain circumstances, the works council can mediate before there is another conflict escalation.

Resolve conflicts with colleagues

Wherever work is done, there is a dispute . Whether as a discussion or as pressure equalization - it only becomes dangerous when your own dissatisfaction boils up to anger and a factual solution can no longer be found. Not infrequently there are then serious derailments that permanently damage the personal image and further cooperation. Silence, swallowing and repression are just as wrong as smoldering conflicts, as is the lack of self-control . First the good news: Everybody can argue. Now the bad: Few can do it right. For a culture of debate must first be learned. How to resolve conflicts with colleagues ...

Conflicts: A definition and different types
Definition conflictsBy definition, a conflict is one tension in which two or more interdependent parties vigorously seek to realize seemingly or actually incompatible action plans while being aware of their opposition.

The symptoms of conflict can be manifold. Once we experience hostility and aggressiveness manifesting in verbal attacks or evil looks. Then there are colleagues who simply switch off and only push service to rule - annoying, if you just need someone to help them.

relationship conflicts
Everyone knows that. Where we meet other people, antipathies can arise, which complicate all being together, although often no rational reason can be recognized. It usually begins quite subliminally, subtle attacks are started and shot down like little arrows. What was initially a purely factual difference is now personified and escalated over time.

communication conflicts
We can not not communicate. Even the ignorance remains a reaction to the request of the counterpart. Another complicating factor is that we communicate on different levels (facial expressions, gestures). Misunderstandings quickly mutate into communication conflicts if they are not corrected directly. At the organizational level, communication conflicts can develop when, for example, an employee signals resistance because his group did not involve him in the decision-making process and he was unable to shape the decision.

role conflicts
Most people take on different roles in a group. Expectations are expressed and unspoken put to the individual. But that does not necessarily have to be those drawers in which one likes to see oneself. Accordingly, the different roles may prevent individuals from pursuing their personal goals .

property disputes
Here, opposing opinions and disagreements prevail over one thing. There are different ideas about which goal should be achieved or there are different solutions in the room, but they can not be combined. At least not at first sight.

conflicts of values
These occur, for example, in different ways of working. One prefers clearly regulated processes, the other prefers spontaneous; the one categorically excludes unfair methods, for the other they are only means to an end.

power struggles
Two departments are to be merged for cost reasons. Both former department heads do not want to lose influence. Zack - already the power conflict is programmed.

distributional conflicts
Here, different views on how the available resources should be distributed dominate. Who gets the company car? Who the corner office? Who the new assistants?

11 safe ways to argue with colleagues
Despite teambulding, team events and team spirit conflicts can not be prevented. An ill-considered remark, a bad day and the argument is programmed. That's why it helps to be aware of what behaviors you are conjuring up conflicts.

One of the safest ways to make your colleagues go white: Get involved in every conversation and every project. Irrespective of the topic, you should always have good advice, a tip or the better specialist knowledge available - and give it to the unsolicited. Nerves guaranteed.

No, you should not lie to your teammates, it's enough if you omit some of the truth. For example, just tell colleague A that colleague B has criticized his project in some respects. That he has also found words of praise, however, let go - and look relaxed, what happens.

Good teams usually make many decisions together. This is your chance to stir up trouble. Just introduce new directions and rules without even discussing them. The effect is likely to be amazing.

It's even easier: take the concerns of your colleagues seriously and agree with them. If you always do that and agree with each other's opinion - even contradictory ones - it will quickly lead to confusion and conflicts in the team. When it comes to pronunciation, you should rather be sick.

Speaking of illness: If you want to annoy the atmosphere in the team sustainable, just sign up sick in a hot project phase just before an important deadline . Ideally, you then ensure that your tasks are poorly documented and that you are not available. Lousy mood guaranteed.

You want to push colleagues to the brink of desperation? Then you promise to do important tasks - and do nothing. When the deadline approaches and the colleague relies on your results, the fun starts for everyone involved.

Also, by actively collecting feedback, you can permanently frustrate your colleagues. Gather the feedback , pretend to be serious - and ignore all ideas. It will not be long before frustration grows.

Vacation planning can be a controversial topic even in well-functioning teams. You can optimally use these sore points by simply entering your holiday in front of everyone else or, even better, treating the holiday wishes of individual colleagues without any reason and explanation.

Bonus systems can work wonders for employee motivation. However, if you manage to earn Team Rewards only for individual team members, you have found a perfect way to sustainably damage your team spirit.

The same applies to the recognition of services or suggestions for improvement. Here focus on individual employees - although the performance was provided by the team - conflicts are programmed.

An optimal way to pit even well-rehearsed teams into trouble: announce that all team members are judged and compared individually. Depend on this assessment then still premiums or allowances, the atmosphere in the team should poison quickly.

Three tips for better quarreling
Three tips for better quarrelingAsk! Many conflicts escalate because the dispute bombards themselves first with allegations: "You telephone much too loud!" It is better to ask questions: "Have you noticed that you speak very loudly when making a call?" Who asks correctly directs the conversation while avoiding provocations. Conversely, respond to such blame never offended, but also with questions: "What do you mean by that?"
Choice of words! In fact, men argue differently than women. As he juxtaposes facts in his sentences, she tries to create harmony with her words. If the man does not respond, she feels rejected and the dispute escalates. The same applies to generalizations à la "This is total idiocy!" Such formulations are cowardly attacks that only stoke the dispute. Rather, formulate specifically and as an I-message: "In this situation, I felt that way ..."
About hearing! Of course, you should listen closely to your counterpart to signal that you are taking the other person seriously. The pro himself is accused of allegations or insinuations, even if they are unjustified, but ignores pure taunts, so keeps the reins in hand and proves greatness. The reverse is true: Disrespect disqualifies any discussant. And irony or sarcasm always have a destructive effect on the atmosphere of conversation.

The conflict discussion as a solution
Conflict Management Conflict Phases Dialog Dispute Resolution Methods Exercises
Once it comes to a fight, you are inevitably faced with the challenges of finding a way to get along again. Because in the job you can usually not or only difficult to avoid. At some point you are forced to work together again. Only the clarifying conversation helps . What you should keep in mind so that a pronunciation is possible:

If it comes to pronunciation, the atmosphere comes first. Strive always and always for objectivity. Never start with anger in the stomach . A time interval to the shutter often helps, but the conversation should not be delayed too long. In technical jargon, this first approximation is the contact phase .
It is followed by the attention phase : If a good atmosphere is found, you should clarify together how you imagine the conversation. All participants should agree that they want to work together to find a solution. If one does not want to, you can save yourself the whole action.
If all agree, you should tell each other in turn their interpretation of the conflict: how did this happen? What made the thing escalate? Incidentally, charming is in this case to start yourself, then the version of the other is last in the room, which gives him a better feeling. By the way, there should not be any discussion about the points of view at this point, because that only leads to a quarrel! Rather, the commonalities of the positions and the differences should be worked out. The disagreements are processed in the next step in sequence.
Namely now, in the interview phase : Now solutions are sought for each disputed issue. These proposals are then assessed on the basis of whether they are feasible and acceptable to all parties. The interlocutors agree on precisely these solutions and agree on when success or failure of implementation should be discussed again.
At the end of the conversation, all solutions are repeated and their acceptance is checked and approved by both parties ( decision phase ).
Colleagues of horror
Something is never good enough, they always find fault. Because they have to endure so many terrible things, their suffering in the imperfection of the world screams to heaven. Occasionally, they harshly communicate their suffering and incomprehension to the environment. Mostly, they are just grumbling to themselves. But even when they are silent, their grief of suffering speaks volumes: Look, everyone, I do not have it easy!

smart aleck
No matter what you say, the know-it-all interrupts them and corrects them. If you show him a faulty job, he will gladly take the opportunity to patronize how to do it the next time. After all, he has eaten wisdom with spoons - and never misses an opportunity to show it and thus to demonstrate his superiority. But that's just the basic form: The perfect bourgeois is angry with the stupidity of the world.

As soon as the colleague is out the door, the intriguer starts: "Do you know what has recently shot him for a goat?" Afterwards he does not leave a good hair on his colleague. He in turn remains unaware. For as soon as he comes in the door, the smirk goes on in the schemer's face: "Well, how are you? Nice that you're here! It's always a pleasure to work with you! "

His head is constantly crimson, he is under power and seems to be bubbling. As soon as something does not suit him (and that happens constantly), he roars and beats. His tantrums are feared because he values ​​mice and keyboards as projectiles. Grace the one who dares to provoke his anger or just get in the way of him: he punishes who he punishes thoroughly - and makes sure that everyone knows it. After all, he has to make an example.

The whole world revolves around him: If he wants to talk on the phone, nobody should rattle on the keyboard. If he has to work in peace, the others have to leave the room. But he does not do this out of domination or wickedness, but out of absolute self-centeredness: only when everything is as he imagines he can fulfill his duties. And finally, you have to take that into consideration.

Expert advice: tips for the most common office conflicts
office conflictsLet's say it the way it is: nothing can spoil your enjoyment of work any more than other people. Today, we are working ever longer, more global, more connected - and that fuels countless conflicts . Most office workers spend more time talking more with their colleagues than with their families, know the workforce better than their neighbors, and yet are more vulnerable to the whims and quirks of their colleagues, their grudges and intrigues . Three common conflicts and tips on how to handle them:

The problem
My office colleague is a real creep: loud, arrogant, advice-resistant. How do I get along with someone like that?

The expert advice
Margit Schönberger , author of several books on living together in the office ("Who has no need for enemies colleagues"):

There will be situations in which the detractor is more responsive to criticism, for example, after a successful phone call. This is the moment for an open conversation about the problems that his nature causes you. However, your sentences should not start with "You have ..., you do ..., you annoy ..."! During the conversation you should stay friendly and your opposite esteem tosignal - even if you have to act! Only if that does not work, you can fight with harder bandages: for example, by holding up the mirror and also louder during one of his too loud phone calls. But be aware that this will initially escalate the situation. Such games cost nerves. Often, however, such characters can only be accommodated by completely disconcerting them and confronting them directly. Or for gentler minds: Present a small gift to the creep in the morning with the words: "Gifts should promote friendship. Maybe today we have a combat-free zone! "Or no gift:" Do not be surprised: Today I have my arrogant day, best you get out of my way. "Importantly, that you solve the problem yourself in the end and do not run upwards. Because that makes you look helpless and does not qualify you for higher tasks.

The problem
A colleague apparently wants my job - how do I deal with it?

The expert advice
Martin Wehrle , salary coach and author ("The enemy in my office"):

The fact that several people seek the same position is a natural process - for example, when two group leaders compete for the vacant position of the head of department. In your case, the situation is different: it's not about a free chair, it's about your own. Your colleague wants to displace you. The key question is: how does he do this? Does he intervene in your area of ​​expertise? Does he talk about you at meetings? Or does he make you and your work bad with the colleagues and the boss? The best way to defend against covert attacks is to talk. Ask him for a private interview. Talk to what you have observed. Include how you interpret your observation and what consequences it has (that you do not like it!). Only the courage to this conversation will prove you as defensive. It is quite possible that you will put off your competitors. If he attacks you openly, such as at meetings, you should pursue a triple strategy. First, do your job as well as possible and talk about your performance. If you shine with your work, how could it be possible to oust you? Second, counterattack attacks with harsh arguments by throwing your expertise into the balance. Thirdly, put a limit on the competitor in open attacks, with a pinch of humor. If all else fails, look for a conflict conversation in the presence of the supervisor. It can not be in his interest to fight for a vacant position - as long as you do your job well.

The problem
I'm afraid I'm Chefs darling lately . The many praise and the great orders are good on the one hand. But colleagues are increasingly retreating ...

The expert advice
Tiemo Kracht , Managing Director of Personnel Consulting Kienbaum Executive Consultants:

In such a case, you should always exercise transparency and avoid creating projection screens into which colleagues can put something. If possible, the commissioned work and the cooperation with the boss should be recognizable and comprehensible. Second: Strive for Teamwork! Involve colleagues in the projects at the right place and make this teamwork or group success transparent to the boss. Especially in the case of a public praise from the boss, you should name all those involved in this assignment or project and express specific thanks. Thirdly, should your boss give you orders during a group meeting that, from your point of view, can be dealt with better and more quickly by colleagues with appropriate skills and experience, Make a concrete suggestion and delegate it cleverly. In this way, you constructively absorb the sensibilities in the circle of colleagues and gain respect and recognition. Fourthly: If you want to approach the boss with project proposals, you will first prepare these advances in the team and introduce yourself as a group - this will not create a slime trail for you. The prerequisite for not losing integration in the circle of colleagues is communication. Stay in dialogue and do not let it subside in the context of a more intensive direct cooperation with the boss. Always remember: bosses change more often than employees. If the boss is gone, you are otherwise isolated at lightning speed. In this way, you constructively absorb the sensibilities in the circle of colleagues and gain respect and recognition. Fourthly: If you want to approach the boss with project proposals, you will first prepare these advances in the team and introduce yourself as a group - this will not create a slime trail for you. The prerequisite for not losing integration in the circle of colleagues is communication. Stay in dialogue and do not let it subside in the context of a more intensive direct cooperation with the boss. Always remember: bosses change more often than employees. If the boss is gone, you are otherwise isolated at lightning speed. In this way, you constructively absorb the sensibilities in the circle of colleagues and gain respect and recognition. Fourthly: If you want to approach the boss with project proposals, you will first prepare these advances in the team and introduce yourself as a group - this will not create a slime trail for you. The prerequisite for not losing integration in the circle of colleagues is communication. Stay in dialogue and do not let it subside in the context of a more intensive direct cooperation with the boss. Always remember: bosses change more often than employees. If the boss is gone, you are otherwise isolated at lightning speed. The prerequisite for not losing integration in the circle of colleagues is communication. Stay in dialogue and do not let it subside in the context of a more intensive direct cooperation with the boss. Always remember: bosses change more often than employees. If the boss is gone, you are otherwise isolated at lightning speed. The prerequisite for not losing integration in the circle of colleagues is communication. Stay in dialogue and do not let it subside in the context of a more intensive direct cooperation with the boss. Always remember: bosses change more often than employees. If the boss is gone, you are otherwise isolated at lightning speed.

Strife shortens life
Strife shortens lifeQuarrel is unhealthy. It causes stress , raises blood pressure and sometimes makes stomach ulcers. How dramatically frequent discussion but actually works, now shows a Danish study to Rikke Lund from the University of Copenhagen.

In various studies of 9875 men and women between the ages of 32 and 52 years, the researchers found that the mortality risk increases by two to three times in frequent quarrels. The health values ​​of the subjects worsened by the increased stress (and the release of various hormones), the increased blood pressure such that, for example, the probability of cardiovascular disease by 50 to 100 percent of those affected increased.

However, the researchers concede that this is not automatic. The skilled person would also speak of a striking correlation and not causality. That means the probability of dying earlier increases. Whether it actually happens depends not least on your physical condition, your individual nerves and the regular balance (for example through sports and healthy nutrition).

How to save a broken working relationship
As in private life, there are people in the job with whom one immediately understands one another. You laugh about the same things and have similar interests. But then there are those contemporaries who simply drive you crazy with their style.

A colleague who is unfriendly to you is more likely to succumb to malice. But whoever behaves this way turns a subordination into a self-fulfilling prophecy . Since you assume that the colleague will try to choke you in every imaginable situation, he will do the same. This can be done out of frustration, out of spite, and for a variety of other reasons. But it causes your working relationship to be destroyed by mistrust and displeasure.

Collaboration is then no longer possible. But there are ways you can fix this broken working relationship:

Reconsider your behavior and attitude. To make an improvement possible, you must give your colleague a chance. This is only possible if you change your attitude and your behavior towards him. Do not focus on what annoys you. Try to look sympathetically at your colleague, just as you do with your favorite colleagues.
Do not bang on being right. Did you hear about the dispute about adjusting the backrest of two aircraft passengers from the USA? On the flight from Newark to Denver, a woman wanted to lean back, but the passenger behind her wanted to work and fixed the seat with a special device. The dispute escalated and the plane had to make a stopover. If two parties insist on your right, the fronts harden. One has to give in to defuse the situation. Of course this is difficult, but then you put a good cooperation in the focus.
Get involved with the other's point of view. Conflicts often arise in that no consideration is given to the opinion and feelings of another person. This is where open communication helps. Tell yourself what bothers you, but also give your counterpart the chance to do so. Who manages to put oneself in the position of the other, has more understanding.
Start over. The working relationship with the colleague you are arguing with will not improve if you are vindictive. Unearthing every vicious commentary and every trick is usually not going anywhere. On the contrary: it causes the colleague to feel that he has to defend himself. Leave the disputes of the past behind. From now on only the current behavior counts.
Involve other people. Get support from colleagues you have a good relationship with. These can help you to stick to the good intentions. For example, they may remind you that you wanted to be more benevolent and not subject the other to malicious intent.
Build mutual trust. In a broken working relationship mistrust has crept in. This is to get out of the way. Show the other that you can rely on them and that you are trustworthy. For example, offer your support. If your partner sees that you keep your word, the trust gradually grows .

Conflicts strengthen the team
If conflicts in the team succeed on a factual level, not only will the results be better, but the team spirit will also grow noticeably. In conflicts, colleagues often get to know each other much better than is possible in their daily work.

Do not get me wrong, of course you should not intentionally provoke conflicts, but an open approach to different points of view and a moderated discussion are absolutely useful. The entire team - and thus also the company - can benefit from this. As an employee, you can do a lot to help deal with conflict:

Address discrepancies promptly and seek clarification.
Encourage colleagues to be open about conflict as well.
Stay objective with your reasoning and never change to the personal level.
Encourage the team to work together to develop rules for factual discussions.
If the discussions are stuck, get a trusted colleague or your team leader as moderator.
Remember, especially in heated discussions, what it is all about and that it is not a personal matter.
Be aware of the good results after a discussion. Look forward to the successful teamwork together with your colleagues.
Arguing makes you more creative
Arguing makes you more creativeThe psychologist Carsten De Dreu from the University of Amsterdam showed in his research that anyone who discusses (often argues), is constantly challenged cognitively, has to adapt his thoughts, tactics and arguments - usually under the pressure of a quick exchange. In other words: who argues is highly creative and at the same time trains these abilities. Assuming, however, that one does not just argue like a stubborn lawyer, but actually tries to respond to the arguments of the other, weighs them, takes on assumptions in order to simultaneously re-question them. Then occasional quarreling can actually make you more creative.


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