Career Defense Strategies to Help You Thrive

Smiling Business Woman at Computer

When we first experience something offensive that starts to interfere with our careers, it is often hard for us to even wrap our brains around what is happening. When Anna came to me to see if she had a legal claim, she was working on a high-level business deal with a much older man who started harassing her. He invited her to stay in his home while she was visiting for business, and he soon began touching and propositioning her. When she was writing a description of what happened to her, she repeated over and over, “I was stunned.” I asked her to be more specific about whether she was afraid or just surprised, and she kept saying, “I was just stunned! I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it was happening.”

I recognized in Anna what happens to almost all of the clients who come to me, as a trial lawyer and coach, with sexual harassment claims, and what happened to me early in my career. When we encounter harassment, our brains just do not compute what is happening. Is this really happening? Is this okay? Could this be legal? We are often so shocked that we can’t even respond in the moment. Sometimes, we don’t want to know the answer. We just want to ignore it until it goes away.

Unfortunately, ignoring and avoiding inappropriate, harassing behavior does not make it go away.

I have seen client after client try to ignore and avoid sexual