Verbal harassment in the workplace refers to any form of verbal behaviour that is intended to harm an employee’s psychological well-being. This can include name-calling, insulting language, threats, and other forms of verbal abuse. It’s important to be aware of the signs of verbal harassment to take steps to prevent it and respond effectively if it does occur.

Identifying Verbal Harassment

It’s important to be able to identify verbal harassment and take steps to address it. Some common signs of verbal harassment include:

  • Name-calling or derogatory language
  • Insults or put-downs
  • Threats or intimidation
  • Bullying or aggressive behaviour
  • Discriminatory or biased language

It’s important to note that verbal harassment is not the same as a single isolated incident of rudeness or disagreement. Instead, it’s a pattern of behaviour that is intended to degrade, humiliate, or undermine the victim.

Preventing Verbal Harassment

Preventing verbal harassment in the workplace is the responsibility of both employers and employees. Employers should have clear policies in place that define what constitutes verbal harassment and provide a mechanism for reporting and addressing it. They should also conduct regular training for employees to raise awareness about the issue and provide guidance on how to prevent it.

Employees can also play a role in preventing verbal harassment. They can:

  • Speak up when they witness behaviour that constitutes verbal harassment
  • Communicate their boundaries assertively and professionally
  • Refuse to participate in or tolerate behaviour that is harassing
  • Seek support if they are experiencing verbal harassment

Responding to Verbal Harassment

If verbal harassment does occur, it’s important to take steps to address it as soon as possible. The first step is to report the behaviour to the appropriate person or department, such as a supervisor, HR representative, or manager.

Victims of verbal harassment should also be provided with support, including counselling and other forms of assistance to help them cope with the impact of the harassment.

Employers should take all reports of verbal harassment seriously and take prompt action to investigate the situation and take appropriate measures to address it. The harasser should be held accountable for their behaviour. This can include disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.


Verbal harassment in the workplace can have serious consequences for both the victim and the organisation. It’s important to be aware of the signs of verbal harassment, to take steps to prevent it and to respond effectively if it does occur. Employers and employees both have a role to play in creating a safe and healthy work environment free from verbal harassment. By identifying, preventing, and responding to verbal harassment, we can create a more positive and productive workplace for all.

If you are looking for a way to educate your workforce and make your workplace a safer place, contact Sentrient for a free demo today.