Interpersonal relationship aspects of the practicum
This discussion looks at issues arising from the interpersonal
relationship aspects of the practicum, specifically bullying, harassment and
sexual harassment, and strategies for handling these. Bullying and harassment
are dealt with together, while sexual harassment is dealt with separately.
While bullying and harassment are
similar behaviours, harassment is usually directed at an individual because
of race, gender or some other ‘difference’, and bullying tends
to be non-discriminatory – anyone will do. Information about how to deal
with isolation, or ‘feeling left out’ in the workplace is also
included. Deliberate isolation of an individual by other workers constitutes
Two basic strategies for dealing with bullying, harassment and sexual harassment in the practicum are:
How comfortable would you feel about taking direct action to overcome conflict in your work placement? Read the article ‘Conflict is the problem; confrontation is the cure’, fill in the survey at the end of it, then put your thoughts into your Portfolio.
Two basic strategies for dealing with isolation/feeling left out are:
Bullying is intended to intimidate or harass someone. Generally it involves persistent behaviour, although a single incident can be enough to destroy a person’s confidence, particularly in a new environment. Despite common perceptions, bullying is not just a ‘blue-collar’ phenomenon. It is also common in white-collar environments such as teaching, social work, health professions, public administration, banking and insurance.
Some workplace cultures may have ingrained bullying behaviours, and people who have worked in that environment for a long time may accept this as normal. Bullying may be overt, such as throwing objects, shouting abuse or threatening disciplinary measures, or covert, such as belittling someone behind their back, continually ignoring them or placing unreasonable demands on them. It may take the form of:
For a more in-depth description of bullying and sexual harassment,
look at Bullying At Work as well as the Australian Public Service Commission legislation
relating to maintaining
a harassment free workplace.
Sexual harassment is harassment of a sexual nature. It may
consist of a single incident and can be very distressing. It is distinguished
from consenting or welcome sexual relationships by coercion, threat, unwelcome
sexual advances, unwelcome requests for sexual favours, other unwelcome sexually
explicit or suggestive written, verbal, or visual material, or unwelcome physical
conduct of a sexual nature.
You can use the strategies for dealing with bullying to deal also with sexual harassment. See also Sexual Harassment. In severe cases (e.g. sexual assault), seek legal action by making a formal complaint to police. Revisit the legislative, University, professional association, union, Equal Opportunity and Employee Ombudsman web resources in the introduction for comprehensive information about sexual harassment and how you can deal with it.
If all strategies to deal with bullying, harassment and isolation in the workplace do not solve the problem, as a last resort you can ask the practicum coordinator to remove you from the workplace.