what to do when you feel disrespected at work

Do you know what to do when you feel disrespected at work? Some people love causing trouble, especially at work.

Some want to make you look bad while others just enjoy affecting others in a negative way.

Disrespectful behavior in the workplace can take many forms.

Be it physical encounters, name-calling, devious comments, or shouting, disrespect at work can result in stress and have a toll on your productivity.

If you ever find yourself in awkward moments where your contribution to your work team results in insensitive comments or sarcasm, there are several mature ways to handle it without putting your job in jeopardy.

feeling disrespected

In this article, we will discuss what to do when you feel disrespected at work including an exit plan when the seat gets too hot. Let’s get started.

Nip It in the Bud

Be assertive and direct. Instead of accumulating a long list of grudges to present to the HR manager at the end of the week, deal with the situation there and then, in a respectful manner.

For example, if your suggestions are kept aside in a meeting, bring it to the attention of the facilitator. Politely request to know why your ideas are not part of the final draft.

By pointing out the disrespectful action and bringing it to the attention of your fellow workmates as it happens, you can quickly put a stop to such behavior.

Use this approach when someone makes an offensive joke towards your work or personality, yells at you, threatens you verbally, or makes rude gestures at you.

Keep your Focus on the Goal

It could be an angry customer or a rude colleague. Sliding down to their level and contributing to the problem won’t help the situation. Keep an eye on the goal.

what to do when feeling disrespected at work

Yes, it’s difficult to ignore, especially when you don’t know what to do when you feel disrespected at work. But in the end, it will be worth the effort.

Always remember that the only thing you can control is yourself and not the other person’s behavior.

Serve as an example for what is right. You don’t want to take part in a shouting contest. Even if you win, you will still feel guilty. 

Seek a Common Ground

A difference in opinion may sound disrespectful, especially between workmates from different cultural backgrounds.

However, you can identify the things that are acceptable to both of you. Some employees, for example, like expressing their ideas using excessive hand gesturing.

In some cultures, gesturing at a person as you talk is seen as belittling the person.

What to Do When You Feel Disrespected at Work

If you find some of the gestures made at you to be disrespectful, politely tell your colleagues something like “In our culture….”

Then you can explain to the person why you find his or her actions disrespectful.

Be Professional 

Whereas low-key office politics may be permissible, some workmates intentionally spread false rumors about others.

If such conduct remains unchecked, it could easily damage the reputation of the individual or the company as a whole.

In extreme circumstances, this may result in strikes or unrest in the organization.

If this happens to you, first, refer back to the company policy and see whether the organization tolerates such conduct.

What to Do When You Feel Disrespected at Work

Next, follow the cues of other long-serving employees. Chances are they too have experienced the same. It’s important to seek their opinion on the matter.

Finally, let the relevant superiors know before they hear it through the rumor mills.

Most superiors appreciate such a step and will use the opportunity to design workshops/events that foster a healthy working environment.

Counter Disrespect with Respect

Ever heard of the old adage “reciprocate bad with the good”? Be a role model for the kind of behavior you would like to see emulated in your workplace.

Maintain a positive attitude towards such toxic conduct.

Be objective in handling criticism, sarcasm, and any belittling comments made towards you. Make these incidences a learning opportunity for how you can treat your colleagues better in the workplace.

Make a Formal Complaint to the HR

Some situations are beyond fixing on a personal level.

disrespected at work

For example, if your male colleagues are bullying you or making unwanted physical contact in the office based on your gender, then it’s time to take more drastic steps.

Instead of worrying about what to do when you feel disrespected at work, take up such issues with the human resources department.

However, you need to have proof to substantiate your claims. Share the abusive email you received from your boss as proof of his or her unprofessional conduct.

Ask your close friends to act as witnesses for the sexual harassment incident that you are reporting.

Most employers have laid down procedures for dealing with disrespectful behavior.

A policy on handling employee insubordination, for example, will clearly outline punitive action or possible termination for any employees found to have committed discriminatory conduct, abusive language, or intentional disregard for a superior’s instructions.

Press Charges

What to Do When You Feel Disrespected at Work

In addition to taking up the issue internally, if a serious crime has been committed, you need to report it to the relevant authorities.

Harassment in the workplace based on sex, race, religion, or disability is punishable under civil rights acts in many countries.

When you press charges against a coworker, ensure you have fully complied with the company’s established complaint process.

It is easier to win a case against a disrespectful colleague when the organization is supporting you.

Lawsuits can be time-consuming and financially challenging. Make sure to prepare adequately for them.

Start Looking For an Alternative Job

Working at an office where you are not respected can result in low productivity, increased stress levels, and ultimately manifest as medical conditions like depression.

Some employers try to avoid the negative image that legal complaints can have on their company by sweeping the issues you raise with them under the rug.

What to Do When You Feel Disrespected at Work

If no action is taken by your superiors, even after making a formal complaint, it is advisable that you start scouting for a new job opportunity.

Engage a career coach to fine-tune your resume and interview skills. Try as much as possible to keep calm until you find another job opening.


The heads of departments must form policies that promote a culture of respect in the workplace. 

Similarly, every employee must create a conducive work environment for their colleagues by observing good work ethics. You now know what to do when you feel disrespected at work.

Also, if you know outright there is disrespectful behavior going on yet no one is taking action, don’t let group mentality overwhelm you.

Instead, stick to being busy with your assigned tasks. Associate yourself with other employees that make a conscious choice to do the right thing.

At times like this, you need to prioritize yourself – especially your mental health.

Surround yourself with people who want to see you grow and evolve. Likewise, find people at work who always see things positively and avoid gossip.

Having negativity will only poison and stunt your growth. You will also most likely find issues with the people you work with.

While you are enjoying your job, your workmates might make it difficult for you to continue doing what you’re passionate about. You deserve to shine in a good working environment.

Thus, do not hesitate to leave in case things get too bad for you as we can only do and tolerate so much as humans.

Finally, maintain an excellent work-life balance by keeping your private affairs private.