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I am having difficulty with my boss at work. He routinely makes fun of my vegan beliefs and values in front of my peers. This almost always takes place when we are at a restaurant. I eventually become defensive and very angry with him. Is there anything I can say to him to make him stop? I am considering not going out to lunch with him and my coworkers anymore. The solitude and peace that I have when I eat my vegan lunch alone at the park is much more satisfying and serene. Any advice would be very appreciated!
Office environments typically are comprised of people with assorted backgrounds, including spiritual beliefs, political perspectives, age, marital status, sexual orientation, ethnicity, hobbies, health, abilities, education, and interests. Because of this diversity, we have antidiscrimination laws in place, so employers cannot hire, promote, demote, or fire people based on personal prejudices or assumptions. Turning the workplace into a hostile environment for an employee is unethical, and it might also be illegal.
Supervisors want their personnel to be successful. A happy, cohesive workforce tends to be a productive workforce, which not only enhances the company’s bottom line, it makes the boss look good, too. There is no reward in having miserable employees, except for those few sadists who get pleasure simply by watching someone squirm.
If your boss is embarrassing and demeaning you in front of your peers, he needs to be made aware of this. Some people are so thick-headed that they are unable to discern the subtle cues of discomfort. While you may think you are responding defensively or angrily, he may be misperceiving your reactions. He might think you enjoy his verbal sparring, or he might believe you take pleasure in being the center of his attention. Perhaps it is his feeble attempt at humor or a way for him to feel more comfortable around you by breaking down barriers. Just as he may be misinterpreting your responses, you might be misreading his cues, too.
There is no point in second guessing his behavior, and it is fruitless for you to continue to join your coworkers on outings if you feeling singled out and picked on by your boss. The only solution is to discuss your concerns in private and let your boss know just how distasteful and off-putting his comments have been. When confronted with honesty and openness, and the realization that misunderstandings are rarely caused by one side alone, most supervisors are willing to concede and accommodate an employee’s requests.
Supervisors have every incentive to respect their staff, and employees have every right to insist on that respect. When discussed in an atmosphere of concern and sincerity, such conversations often lead to improved working relationships and greater admiration all around.
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