Monday, January 1, 2018

Grounded in My Boundaries: Reporting Inappropriate Behavior

I finished IMPACT Core training just a couple weeks ago [fall 2017], and I've already had a chance to put my training into action.  No, I haven't had a physical altercation with a potential assailant.  My incident was much more commonplace, and was one of those situations we often refer to as a "gray area."

I've worked at the same company for 3 years.  My boss's boss, who joined the company 6 months ago, is a little too hands-on (literally) with myself, my teammates, and other young women in the office.  Hands on shoulders, arms, backs, and general invasion of personal space.  He also makes comments and uses language that he would not use with male employees.  It's not overtly predatory, but it's inappropriate, makes women uncomfortable, and is non-consensual.  

This has bothered me since he joined the company. Pre-IMPACT me might have reported it to HR eventually, but I would have really deliberated and stressed and worried that I was endangering my job or wrongly incriminating him.  Post-IMPACT me had a much easier time with it.  I reported it to HR today, and while I did have trouble sleeping last night as I was gearing up to make the report, I was pretty calm and felt completely justified.  I really think IMPACT's emphasis on respecting your own boundaries helped me stay calm through this.  The whole time, my motivation was "let's nip this in the bud, let's correct this behavior," rather than "this person is threatening, this person makes me feel icky and uncomfortable, but I'm afraid of what would happen if I reported it."  It's a subtle but profound shift.  
Before IMPACT, I would be much more likely to excuse this behavior, second guess myself, talk myself into accepting it, etc.  If I did report it, I would have had to talk with a lot of people to build my confidence or help me feel justified.  As women, we are so used to accepting this kind of thing--if we rocked the boat every time a man made us uncomfortable, we'd never get anything done.  But IMPACT has helped me feel grounded in my own boundaries in a way I have never intentionally practiced. Thanks to this, I did not waste time internalizing this behavior or making it my problem  ("Maybe *I'm* too uptight, *I* just don't understand his humor, *I'm*overreacting") .  Instead, I felt free to move swiftly and directly, taking the action I needed to take without having to discuss it with anyone but HR.
It's not a gray area if it makes you uncomfortable.  End of story.  I am, of course, concerned that this may be handled poorly by my company and negatively affect my job.  But the alternative (letting it continue) was unacceptable.  
IMPACT has a way of clearing the clutter, allowing you to recognize a threat for a threat, without being encumbered by self-doubt.  It clears the way for you to act swiftly and directly, with no wasted time or energy.  This is as true of my incident this week as it is with the physical fight scenarios in class.

I never would have expected a physical self-defense class would help me in a situation like this.  But I am just starting to realize how multifaceted the effects of IMPACT really are.
S.G., IMPACT Chicago 2017 Graduate

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