Am I being bullied/mobbed?
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.
of going to work should NOT make you feel like
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
you are the target of mobbing...
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
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
are going to get a lot worse
before they get worse.
~ Lily Tomlin
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
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.
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
is the way
And hard, that out of hell leads up to light.
~ John Milton,
Paradise Lost. Book ii. Line 432.
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