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MOBBING SURVIVAL

Am I being bullied/mobbed?
   See also: Checklist of Mobbing Indicators

If you are the target of mobbing...

Seek Out Information and Support

Should you consult mental health professionals?

If you have any suggestions or examples of mobbing survival that have worked for you please send us an email.
 

 
Photo - Ken Kiser

Am I being bullied/mobbed?

 
   

How does one know if they have become the target of a bully or even a full blown mobbing? Although it sounds like the answer to this question would be simple and obvious it is not always so. We all know about schoolyard bullies, but we thought we were rid of such childish shenanigans once we graduated.

Adult bullying in the workplace has flown under the radar as it has been, sometimes purposefully, confused with simple 'personality conflicts' or 'tough management' practices. Certainly there are valid instances where these situations arise, uncomfortable as they may be they do not necessarily constitute bullying or mobbing.

Most of us have had a personality conflict with someone during our lives. That person that just rubs us the wrong way. Disagrees with everything we say. Argues the most trivial points because they know everything about everything. You don't like them and they don't like you.

In the case of a personality conflict a working relationship can be found, even if it means avoiding each other as much as possible and simply not engaging in conversation outside of what is required to get the job done. Live and let live. This can even be of benefit as it provides a more diverse set of views and opinions from which to make decisions. Personality conflicts are part of the normal interactions we can expect when dealing with people whether it be at work, in our communities or social lives.

The same is true of tough management. The boss who demands a high standard of performance and is difficult to please. If it is truly a tough manager and not a bully, maintaining realistic standards in your work, the same standards demanded from everyone, will usually appease him or her. Meeting their expectations may even garner some praise as they will want your success to serve as an example for your coworkers. They are goal oriented and often are feeling pressure themselves from their superiors.

This, however, is not what we are dealing with when we are dealing with bullies. We may, of course, initially have a personality conflict with a bully. But it will not be resolved so easily. The bully has no interest in letting you get on with your life, they are interested in destroying it. They will do whatever it takes and say whatever it takes to make your life a living hell and to ruin your reputation and your career.

So too with the bully manager who comes off as 'just' a tough manager. Once having met the established standards the negative tone will not stop. They will never praise or reward you no matter how high an achiever you are. Worse, being a high achiever will serve only to antagonize them and they will step up the abuse and raise the standards arbitrarily and to a level that guarantees your failure. Your goals will become a moving target. They are not interested in your success or the success of the company. They are interested in feeling better about themselves, about looking good at your expense, about tearing you down to raise themselves up.

 
   

You may have been giving the bully the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they are having a bad day, or a bad year. They don't really mean to be so hurtful, they are just lacking in social skills. They can't realize what they are doing or surely they wouldn't do it. Things will get better soon and they will see that I am a good person and a good worker and they will leave me alone.

If you are being bullied things usually do not get better. They continue to get worse and worse. Once you have been targeted by a bully they will not stop until they have won, until they have bolstered their insecurities by asserting power over you. This they do by making you suffer and by deriving pleasure from watching you twist in the wind. They will attempt to tear you down piece by piece, day after day, until you either quit or are fired.

If you are being bullied you will begin to feel uneasy about your workplace. Even if you love what you do, you will begin to go to work with trepidation wondering what new mischief, what new insult, what belittling remarks you will face that day. You will become more confused about your role with the company as your job functions are shifted and as your hard work is demeaned. You will begin to worry about your job security. You will begin to question yourself wondering if maybe there is something wrong with you. You will begin to obsess about the situation and the bully.

The Passion of the Christ  
Photo - Kerim Ergaz  

The thought of going to work should NOT make you feel like this!

 
   

When you go home you won't be able to leave the day behind. You will begin to dread going to work. You will begin to seek consolation and advise from family and friends who will tell you it is just a 'personality conflict', just get over it. You will begin to lose interest in things that used to give you pleasure. You will begin to become depressed and unable to eat, or you may eat more than usual. You won't be able to get to sleep as thoughts of the bully intrude. You will get up in the morning feeling as tired as if you hadn't slept at all. You will feel sick to your stomach at the idea of going to work.

As this situation progresses you will begin to take time off from work taking sick leave. The depression and lack of sleep will take its toll. Your stress levels will rise. You will begin to seek medical or psychiatric attention. Your doctor will tell you its a 'personality conflict' or that you are being 'paranoid'. You will begin to doubt your sanity. You will become hypervigilante at work. Your coworkers will begin to notice that you are not well. They will begin to have concerns about you (not concern for you).

The bully will be in his glory for he can see, and delights in, the anguish he is causing you. He may now expand his efforts and bring on a mobbing. The bully will fan the flames of fear in your coworkers suggesting you are mentally ill. He will continue to antangonize you hoping that you will slip up in your diminished and now highly emotional state. Your complaints to management, or if the bully is a manager, your complaints to company executives or HR will fall on deaf ears. The bully has already poisoned their minds against you. You will be dismissed as a paranoid troublemaker, possibly mentally unbalanced and a threat to company morale and safety.

As you take more time off work to try to get a handle on the situation it will be used against you. It will, naturally, impact your productivity. You will be called into the office where you will be blamed for what is happening. Your boss will tell you that your productivity is slipping, you are missing work, coworkers have been complaining about your poor attitude. You will be told to shape up or ship out. You will be asked, "Why don't you just quit if you hate it here so much?" You will tell them you love your job, that the bullying which management is condoning is effecting your health and making it difficult for you to do your job. You will tell them they are responsible. You will be disciplined, you will be punished and then - you will be terminated.

Where you are on this continuum will best determine how or if you can overcome the situation. In the early stages of bullying it is possible to fight the bully by drawing attention to their inappropriate behavior, by being assertive in standing up to their assaults. Your success will depend in large part on your coworkers. If others are willing to back you up and corroborate your complaints a common front may convince management to confront the bully. However, be warned that this is rare. Most people, even those simpathetic to you, will run for the hills when its time to stand up to a bully. They will not want to be the bully's next target. They will not risk their job so you can hold onto yours. They've seen what the bully has done to you and your career, fear will keep them silent. >>> For more on fighting bullies - KickBully.com

The corporate culture will also play a role. Often bullies move up the ranks more quickly than decent and ethical people. It is part of the 'dog eat dog', profit motivated, win-at-all-cost, zero sum game of our capitalist society. 'It's just business' is the phrase that justifies all atrocities in the pursuit of 'shareholder value' in the minds of the corporate elite. Managers who are bullies may have superiors who are equally perverse if not more so, especially if your company is the stalking grounds of a 'corporate psychopath'. >>> More on 'corporate psychopaths: Is Your Boss a Psychopath?, Corporate Psychopaths (TV report/transcript),

If you find upper management is aware of the damage bullying causes and takes the matter seriously you may consider yourself very fortunate.

In many cases of bullying, especially where things have progressed past the initial stages to a full blown mobbing, the best advise is to find another job as soon as possible. As difficult a decision as this is, particularly if you love your job, it is the best course of action to salvage the balance of your health, sanity and reputation.

~ Anton Hout

See also: Checklist of Mobbing Indicators

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If you are the target of mobbing...

Congratulations, you are likely one of the best and brightest people where you work, or used to work as the case may be. Small consolation perhaps but it is important to recognize that you have become the target of mobbing not because you are deficient but because you are exceptional.

I have been a target for over 15 years and I feel lucky to still be alive. I did not know why I was being treated the way I was. I was told that there was something wrong with me, that I caused it, that I deserved it. It was only toward the end that I learned about mobbing - almost too late.

Knowing what is happening is the first step to coming to terms with what is being done to you. Knowing that you are not responsible, that your treatment is unwarranted, undeserved and unjustifed allows you to focus on the real problem. It won't make the problem go away, but it lets you put things in a new perspective. There is a great sense of relief in knowing we are not the only ones to endure this, that we are not insane and that there is hope.


Things are going to get a lot worse
before they get worse.

~ Lily Tomlin


If you are the target of mobbing your life is in danger, you are in quicksand - if you do not get out you will eventually go under. You will struggle, and fight, and scream for your life, but nothing will help. In fact it will only make things worse - much worse. You will sink lower and lower, more exhausted with each breath, with each passing minute. You will eventually slip under and you will die.

Some who have not experienced what it is like to be the target of mobbing may consider this to be an exaggeration or to be melodramatic. Unfortunately it actually does not go far enough to describe the peril that a mobbing target is in. We will not go into the litany of horrors that befall a target here, suffice it to say that mobbing ends tragically. It ends in shattered lives, it ends in suicide and it ends in homicide.

But it doesn't have to end that way. Just as there is a way out of quicksand there is a way out of mobbing.

Click Here - to learn more about "How Quicksand Works".

How your ordeal ends will depend in large part on you, on your particular situation, on your support network, on your own inner strength and determination. It will depend on how long you have been traumatized, how severely you have been injured, how easily you can find other employment and on your finances.

You will have to take stock of your situation, what are your strengths, what resources are available to you, can you afford to leave, can you afford to stay? Only you can decide the best way for you.


Long is the way
And hard, that out of hell leads up to light.

~ John Milton, Paradise Lost. Book ii. Line 432.


If you stay you will have a long, hard road ahead. I understand all too well why someone would choose to stay and fight, I did. But I caution you, it will cost you and it will be dear. You will have your honour, but you risk your health, your sanity, your family and even your life - weigh your decision carefully. I do not regret staying as long as I did, but I do regret not having left sooner.

As one coworker of mine would joke as we left at the end of the day, "Let us flee this evil place".

~ Anton Hout

More to come...


Photo - Emilia Stasiak

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Seek Out Information and Support

There are numerous websites which can provide you with a vast amount of information about mobbing. Foremost among them is Tim Field's site Bully OnLine. If you have not already visited Bully OnLine we highly recommend that you do.

You can find more links to excellent sites on our "LINKS" page, including OvercomeBullying.org.

For access to support and advise from people around the world who are going through the same experience we recommend joining a group such as the Bully OnLine or Nineveh support and discussion forums.

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Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil.

~ Elie Wiesel

 
 

The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essense of inhumanity.

~ George Bernard Shaw

 
 
Video Library
The Corporation
 
Interview with a Target of
Workplace Bullying

by John Peel
on Home Truths,
BBC Radio 4
(mp3)

Courtesy BullyEQ
 
 

WEBQuotes


Calgary Herald
"...grossly unacceptable employer behaviour."
> AFL
"There was a lot of bullying in the newsroom and it was a gift to be able to stand up and say we are prepared to do something about it."
> UNB

Canwest Global
"The CanWest corporation is showing the ugly and intolerant face of modern media," ... "While openly interfering in editorial content it cravenly punishes those journalists who have the courage to protest."
> IFJ
"Many journalists left CanWest, deciding to quit or take disability leave after the frigid mood of their newsrooms made them ill."
> Canwest Watch

Imperial Parking
"Timothy Lloyd decided he had had enough of "going in to war every day." ... I was very unhappy in my work -- burned out, stressed out ... There were constant threats of dismissal, constant invading of my personal space, and use of profanity that was personally directed at me."
> HealthSmith

Annuity Research & Marketing Service Ltd.
"Every employer, said Justice Dambrot, owes a contractual duty to its employees to “treat them fairly, with civility, decency, respect, and dignity.” By failing to protect Ms. Stamos from Mr. Hammami’s harassment, the court concluded that the employer had breached this contractual duty."
> Labor Relations Consultants


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