mental harassment / Mental Health

Mental Harassment & The Office: How To Deal With Difficult Expectations

. 4 min read . Written by Ishita Nigam
Mental Harassment & The Office: How To Deal With Difficult Expectations

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Scenario 1 

Reporting Manager: Hey! I heard you have finalized the date for your wife’s C-Sec?

Employee: Yes sir. It is next week. 


Reporting Manager: Yeah, about that. Can you postpone the delivery date to the week after? It is clashing with our planning.

Most of us are no strangers to mental harassment at work. However, we do not talk about it enough, especially in ways that call attention to it outside of our close circles! Organizations usually have policies in place to make their culture more inclusive and flexible. However, the execution of those policies is often challenging and limited.

Want to know more about your mental health rights at work in India? Read here.

Mental Harassment is a very subjective topic.

What might be harassment to someone, could be pushing the limits at a time of need to someone else. If an employee isn’t competent enough, getting pushed to perform might feel like mental harassment.

The company is not at fault if the employee is unable to do the job they were hired for. Sadly, there are times when well-performing employees feel mental discomfort due to a stressful environment too. 

Meeting Up With Too Many Expectations

A mismatch when it comes to expectations is very subjective. You can offset expectations from both sides–the employer and the employee. If the employee puts up unreasonable demands, the organization deals with them accordingly. If employers ask for work that wasn’t specified at the time of hiring, the employee will quit or relocate

You can learn about how to create a healthy workplace. Read here.

At times of need, the organizations might expect the employees to step out of their profiles and get work done. Problems arise when that happens on a regular basis without any acknowledgment of the employee’s efforts. 

Many organizations in western economies call working post office hours overtime, we call it hard work. 

If you are wondering what mental harassment might look like on a daily basis, here is another relatable example :

Scenario 2 

You are a teacher/professor who has been taking online classes for 6 months now. There has been an increasing number of COVID-19 positive cases.  Unfortunately, your residential area has been declared a containment zone now.

After Unlock 3.0, the management is forcing you to report to the institute physically to take online classes. You are also facing pay cuts despite students paying full fees to the institute. 

(Continue reading below.)

Dealing With Unreasonable Demands 

Having dealt with unreasonable expectations myself, I can say there are measures to tackle this, one problem at a time. 

Know your limits

You need to know yourself and devise a set of limits when it comes to your profession. Irrespective of the hierarchy, knowing your own breaking point will tell you what you can and cannot do for a company. It helps inculcate a healthy relationship between the employer and the employee. Expectations can be set on day one. 

Learn how to say ‘NO’ at work. Read here.

Be Honest

You need to be open and honest when dealing with both yourself and the company. However, your work should also speak for itself. This will help you earn some well-deserved time off. moreover, the discussion has a better chance of going in your favor in this case.

Have Reasonable Expectations

The situation of unreasonable demands arises when both the employer and the employee have contrasting expectations. Most of us have faced a situation where every other report is needed “RIGHT NOW!” However, prioritizing and negotiating can make the situation more manageable. It is essential that you find a middle ground where you can both flourish! Do not underestimate the power of a good conversation and an honest dialogue!

Be Vocal at the Right Time

It is time to be vocal when you feel subdued. Be firm in taking a stand and cite the what, why, and how of your emotions. What do you think of the expectation, why does it bother you, and how do you think it can be resolved? It might not always seem doable for various reasons, but not doing anything does not make your life better either! Take that first step into making your work life better. 

You can now check whether you’re in a positive workplace (and in good company). Read here.

Every employer was once an employee. The struggles are universal and you can ease them with a hearty conversation. Whether or not these problems are openly communicated is a critical factor in whether they will be solved or not! Expectations have the power to make or break any situation, based on the communication that flows, or the absence of it. 

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