An Expert’s Top 3 Tips For Dealing With Workplace Sexual Harassment

The past few months have been big for change. Companies have been called out for systemic racism. The Supreme Court gave LGBTQ workers federal civil rights. Sexual predators are having a renewed #MeToo moment. Powers-that-be are being held to account. That’s phenomenal for social progress. It’s also horrible for workplace sexual harassment.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news (amidst an already heinous 2020), but you’ll want to beware of increased sexual harassment when you’re on the job, as harassholes hate this new world.

Here’s the skinny: Workplace sexual harassment is a power play. Basically, harassers are insecure people who want to make you feel small because they find you threatening and/or seek a power boost.

Don’t get it twisted, though: Sexual harassment doesn’t have to be sexual. What matters is that you’re being targeted because of your gender or sexual identity.

Harassholes may try to “put you in your place” by using typical sexualized come-ons, like ogling your goodies in the office, jumping in your DMs to ask you out for the umpteenth time, or promising you a promotion in exchange for a Netflix and chill. Or, harassholes may leverage hostile put-downs that humiliate you, like calling you crude names on conference calls, cutting you out of morning meetings, berating you for not dressing the way a woman “should” dress. The displays of disrespect are limitless.

Now that our new world is pushing for greater respect for marginalized persons, women included, harassholes see our world as a less hospitable place for their antics. They’re frustrated about not being able to mistreat you and others with impunity, and they’ll try to reclaim their sense of power by stepping up their harassment game. Protect your purse and your mental health by being prepared.

Here are three quick tips to help you beat workplace sexual harassment:

Identify The Harassholes

You may be a butterfly, but harassholes aren’t very unique. They tend to have shared traits, among them being gender. Men make up some 90% of harassholes. In addition to that, they’re more likely to embrace these characteristics:

⭐︎ Support traditional gender roles

⭐︎ Maintain a strong male identity

⭐︎ Think men are superior to women

⭐︎ Believe men and women should be segregated

⭐︎ Sexualize women, girls, and LGBTQ people

⭐︎ Trivialize victimization or engage in victim-blaming

⭐︎ Lack egalitarian attitudes toward gender and/or race

You can spot these traits by listening to what a harasshole says about gender and sexual identity. For instance, harassholes often think men are better suited for traditionally male jobs and leadership positions whereas women should be in “pink careers,” stay-at-home moms, or in supporting roles. Harassholes use activities and terms typically associated with women to demean other men, such as calling a man a “pussy” or promising to wear a dress in public as part of a bet. These are the dudes who use stereotypes about women as punch lines. 

The thing is, there’s nothing funny about harassholes. Keep an eye out for them and remember—just because someone isn’t a harasshole to you, doesn’t mean they’re not harassing another colleague. Harassholes are shady shapeshifters.

Document, Document, Document

Your records of what happened are essential to beating workplace sexual harassment. Why? Memories fade. Plus, there’s a 99% chance that the harasshole (and your employer) will lie. Avoid the he said, she said situation by documenting what went down. On your personal computer or encrypted email, maintain a log of the who, what, when, where, and how of the experience like you’re writing a bland yet detailed screenplay. Also, attach supporting documents such as text messages, emails, DMs, and notes. 

You’ll want to have it all, especially if you ever need to speak out or if you suffer retaliation. Documentation can make the difference between getting the heave-ho with nothing and getting out of a company on your own terms with solid references and a strong severance.

Always Trust Your Instincts

Pay attention to that still small voice that echoes within when you’re uncomfortable. Never try to override your instincts with rationalization. You know what you’re sensing, what you experienced, and what you need not tolerate. Don’t ignore it.

Do ignore gaslighting and shade-throwing coworkers. As much as I hate to say it, research shows that some coworkers will try to discourage you from speaking out about sexual harassment and many will distance themselves from you for fear of being mistreated by your employer too. That’s a bummer. But it doesn’t mean you should “take one for the team” by keeping quiet. Real friends won’t insist you be disrespected and won’t try to deny your reality.

Stick close to your instincts, demand to be treated with respect, and do you. You may not be The Boss, but you are a boss and you deserve to work in a harassment-free workplace.

Adrienne Lawrence is an on-air legal analyst and the author of Staying in the Game: The Playbook for Beating Workplace Sexual Harassment (TarcherPerigee, 2020). Lawrence has contributed her insight on workplace sexual harassment for outlets such as the Harvard Business Review and NPR. Follow her on Twitter @AdrienneLaw and IG @AdrienneLawrence

Images: Song_about_summer/ Shutterstock.com

5 Things You Should Never Put In A Professional Email

Writing emails at work is probably one of those things you do every day without even thinking about it. Yet, if you’ve ever had a coworker say something embarrassing on an accidental “reply all”, you can quickly be reminded that the everyday act of emailing can quickly end your career.

Professional emails can be serious business. As much as you might want to fill your email with gifs, memes, and anything that reminds your office that yes, you are a millennial, having a job also means to need to show some sort of resemblance of professionalism. (If only your coworkers saw what you are planning on wearing to Coachella.)

Now, all office cultures are certainly different. I still believe that as a whole, if us boss betches want to be taken seriously (which we do, and we should be), we NEED to stay professional at work. I’m not saying don’t get a little loosey-goosey at your company’s holiday party. Go to town. Do some karaoke with your CEO at a happy hour. I support you.

But all in all, we should follow some basic rules to work emails. Here are five things you should never put in a professional email.

1. Abbrevs

I have a problem where I abbreviate literally everything in my life. Just ask my boyfriend. He can hardly understand what I’m saying.

 

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tag ur bff

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At work, limit those amazing abbreviations that keep your hands from getting carpal tunnel to a minimum. Your boss probably isn’t writing you notes that say, “SOS, TBH I need HH”, so you shouldn’t either. Write for the job you want, not the job you have, amiright!?

2. Sh*t Tons of Exclamation Points

I’ll be totally honest, my text messages to my friends look like I am yelling at all times. I use more exclamation points and emojis than I can count. What can I say, I am an excitable person.

But at work, keep your exclamations to a minimum. It comes off junior and unprofessional. It may seem totally foreign to literally put a period at the end of a sentence (because if we texted, “Okay.” everyone would think we were pissed), but it’s the reality. If you do want to put an exclamation point in an email, because it’s something REALLY exciting, put one. Just one.

3. Long-Winded Explanations

I heard the best piece of advice: pretend every email you write is being read on a phone. So fit your content into what someone could read in the screen of their phone.

If you have a lot to say, try holding a meeting. I know the idea of face-to-face communication is probably a horrifying suggestion at this point in our tech-savvy world, but do it. It’ll make a huge difference. You’ll lose any opportunity for miscommunication and probably get more done.

4. Gossip

Look, I love a little office gossip as much as the next person, but if you are going to talk sh*t at work…KEEP IT OUT OF WRITING. Even a ping.

I’m going to tell you a little secret. Most companies (not all, but a lot) will track your keystrokes. If you are using a work computer, they probably know all of the crap you are saying. So if you are complaining, writing an email (even to a friend) with something you wouldn’t want your boss to read—don’t do it. Go get a drink and tell your friends all your juicy news then.

 

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There’s also the reply-all issue. Have you ever gotten an email about you, to you? I have. It f*cking sucks. But it’s also unprofessional AF. Make your life easier and keep the gossip out of anything that can be read later on. You’ll thank me later.

5. Negativity

Similar to gossip, your work email is not the place to complain to your boss, bitch about your job to your friend, or talk about how overworked you are. Remember that whole reply-all thing? Or the little keystroke monitoring? If you are in a company email, the company PROBABLY has access to your email. Don’t put yourself at risk just because you are dying to complain.

 

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Although emails are something we are probably doing day in and day out, take these tips into consideration next time you are emailing at work. And if you don’t believe me, just look at how your boss emails. Or your CEO. I want you all to be in their position one day, so stay profesh in emails, K?!

7 Phrases To Professionally Throw Shade That You Need To Know

I know I say this all of the time, but being an adult sucks. Like, it really fucking blows. Temper tantrums are frowned upon, and naps are few and far between. Perhaps the worst part is that you have to cordially interact with other people who also would rather be napping or crying for at least 40 hours every week. Here are a few shady phrases you can drop into your professional emails to passive-aggressively let people know you are here to fuck shit up.

1. “Please Advise”

If you’ve never tacked “please advise” to the end of an email when you’re basically the humanization of that meme where the dog is sitting in a kitchen that’s on fire, then you probably vaguely have your shit together. Congratulations. For the rest of us, “please advise” is like, the closest thing we have to just straight-up calling our moms. It’s a cry for help. It can also be used as some serious shade directed at one of your colleagues who just botched something important, as in, “please advise how you could have fucked this up so badly, and please advise how you are going to fix it right tf now.”

2. “I Just Wanted To Follow Up On This”

Personally, every time I follow up on an email, I’m just using all of my willpower to not type “ARE YOU STILL TEXTIN’ BITCHES? YES OR NO?” Following up on emails is the real world equivalent of triple texting that guy you’re “talking to.”

3. “Moving Forward”

If you ever get the chance to write “moving forward” in an email, you’ve pretty much made it. “Moving forward” is code for “maybe try not to be such a fuckup next time.” At this point in your professional career, you’re probably receiving that more than you’re sending it, so def jump on it if you ever get the chance.

4. “Per My Last Email”

This is the polite version of asking someone if they can even fucking read. While this is definitely one of the shadiest email phrases to keep in your back pocket, use it sparingly. People really tend to misuse the words “as per” and sprinkle them throughout emails when angry, but realistically, it’ll backfire and make you look like the idiot.

 

5. “I Hope This Email Finds You Well”

This roughly translates to “I don’t give a shit about your personal life, Jared, but I have to pretend that I do for the sake of this email.” If you start an email off with “I hope this email finds you well,” you are most definitely about to ask for something. In my opinion, we should get rid of this one altogether and just start every email off by banging out our requests in all caps.

6. “Let’s Circle Back On This”

Read: Dwight, you ignorant slut. This phrase comes in clutch when you need to passive-aggressively tell someone to STFU and never bother you with their peasant shit ever again. It’s basically the clearest way to say “I hate your idea.”

7. “Feel Free To Ping Me”

Use this when you’re working from home as a signal to your coworkers that you are hungover as shit and need not be bothered. Feel free to swap the word “ping” out for something less obnoxious.

Images: Shutterstock; Giphy (3)

5 Ways To Wear A Crop Top To Work Without Offending HR

As a secret hoe (I’m not that secret about it) I’m constantly pushing the limits of my employer’s sanity by seeing how much I can get away with in terms of the office dress code. Tbh they never should have called it business casual in the first place. Once you throw the word “casual” around that’s just asking me not to take it seriously. Like when a fuckboy tries to tell me he’s only into “casual dating” or when my mother tries to talk to me about my “casual drinking problem.” Please. And because my look is incredibly fashion forward a mix between lazy and slutty, I’m always trying to circumvent the dress code. For example, in the winter that includes me trying to get away with literally not wearing pants. I’ll show up to the office in leggings and an over-sized sweater/shirt/$5 Forever21 T-shirt that I’m trying to pass off as Yeezy and booties and just dare anyone to say shit about my outfit. And by dare I mean hide in my office and hope the girl I pissed off by eating her yogurt the other day doesn’t write a passive-aggressive email to HR. IT WAS ONE TIME, SUSAN.

But in the summer I sure as hell will be toeing that line between business and casual in a cute af crop top. Crop tops have been around for a while now and apparently the trend is sticking. Blessings. But unlike in college where you could literally wear a bra to the bar and call it couture—just me?—now, crop tops have become more chic and fashion forward. To which I would just like to say, are you listening to this, mother?? And because I support v important causes like making hoe fashion (thank you, Tyra), here are 5 crop tops for every office style that you should buy ASAP because you can absolutely probably get away with wearing this shit to your 9am department meeting.

Office Professional

You have, like, a normal 9-5 job that definitely enforces the “business casual” dress code no matter how many times you tell HR that you’re feeling personally victimized by this. In order to carry on with your hoe ways, you’ll def want to stick to a looser silhouette. Think longer, loose pants with a flowy, boxy top. The pants will elongate your legs while the crop top will keep you from looking like a bag lady an Olsen Twin. The key here is to make sure that your shirt is long enough so that nosey bitch Susan won’t report you for “inappropriate behavior.”

Boho Casual

You’re the type of person who doesn’t call wearing a crop top to work “pushing the boundaries,” but rather, “expressing yourself.” Odds are you work in advertising or some other creative field that encourages you to dress however the fuck you want. You get a bit more leeway than the rest of us, so go for a matching shirt/skirt combo in a funky print. It’s kind of like a trap a fashion optical illusion because while it kind of looks like you’re wearing a crop top it also kind of looks like you could just be wearing a dress.

Preppy & Girly

If this is your look then I’m assuming you do, in fact, work in a professional office setting but also you want to look cute. So I’m guessing your style icon is probs more Audrey Hepburn at a premiere than Bella Thorne getting felt up by Scott Disick on a yacht in Cannes. Just a guess. I suggest, pairing an over-sized skirt with a boxy, crop top for a chic yet office appropriate look. If you want to pretend like you have a personality mix it up a bit, try a bold color or print for the skirt.

Sporty Chic

I’m not going to make any sort of assumptions about what your job title is (shocking, I know). You could work at a gym or have some sort of fitness Instagram account or you could just be me work in a normal office setting where you show up looking like you don’t give a fuck. Either way, your secret weapon is going to be an over-sized bomber or jean jacket. If you’re trying to keep with your normal lazy af aesthetic, then throw one of those jackets over a black jean/crop top combo. It’s a classic, easy, and only slightly slutty look—three words I also def use to describe myself in my Bumble bio. If you’re trying to class it up because the new hire has a man-bun and you’re feeling like for once Mercury is not in retrograde and actively fucking with your dating life, then consider pairing the jacket over a knit crop top and matching pencil skirt. You’ll still look v edgy but also like you didn’t just find your outfit at the bottom of your laundry pile.

Wannabe Instagram Influencer

You’re def an assistant to an Anna Wintour wannabe who probs throws shoe samples at you when you forget to order her lunch with dressing on the side. Think Nina Garcia two seconds before she emotionally obliterates an amateur designer for not “editing” enough. The rules of business appropriate work attire do not apply to you because if you showed up in a basic blouse and a pencil skirt your boss would take one look at you and say this:

Do not be the Anne Hathaway of this scenario. DO NOT. You work in fashion (I assume) so take some chances for god’s sake (assuming your boss is cool with that. I realize I’m assuming a lot this article). That being said, don’t be afraid to try out a tighter, shorter crop top as long as you pair it with something high-waisted.

Read: How To Take Your Makeup From Office Professional To Happy Hour Hoe
How To Send A Decently Professional Work Email

Sending emails is the most awkward way of communicating. You’re literally writing a letter to someone, which requires an intro, a body, and a signature. Alas, it is a way of life now, so you best know how to write one. Here’s how you should be starting and ending your emails.

Regarding formalities

You could go back and forth with someone all day, starting email after email with, “Hi Marshall” and signing each with, “Regards.” You don’t need that kind of uppity corporate nonsense in your life. If you work with the person, they don’t need (or deserve) an introduction email after email. Similarly, if you’re emailing a client, respectfully start the initial email with an intro, but cut it off after that. If it’s a new day and you’re sending a follow-up, it’s probably a good idea to greet them again.

If you’ve been away for a while and come back with a million and one questions for someone, give that email an opener, such as:

“Glad to be back—a few things I wanted to discuss.”

Same goes for if someone you work with went away.

“Hope you had a great time in Vegas and didn’t get any VD!”

Except not the VD part. That was a test.

When it comes to your point

Get to it—quickly. Aside from like, newspapers, I can’t think of a more boring thing to read than emails. So please, get creative. There’s nothing worse then recycling the same generic email jargon. “Hope you’re doing well.” “Attached, you’ll find…”

Cut the crap. I can’t tell you how many people will appreciate it.

When it comes to actually sending

Timing is important. Avoid sending emails at, say, the end of the day (particularly if you know when your coworkers/boss leave). They’ve rounded their day up and thrown in the towel until tomorrow. Don’t fuck with their groove by sending them a hefty email.

Remember: You’re in control of your emails. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through, within reason. Now get out there and send a professional and semi-exciting (but not too exciting) email.

Images: Giphy; Shutterstock.com