Ganging up on workplace bullying

Imagine being bullied at work, not by one person but by numerous, and not occasionally but almost every day. Maybe you don’t need to imagine it that much if you’re either the victim of such behaviour or the perpetrator of it. It’s behaviour formally known as mobbing – and for good reason.

Because just like any typical mob of the mafia variety, it involves a group of people with collective superiority exercising it over those they perceive as inferior.

‘Mobbing’ at work can be relentless.

Take, as an example, this quote from what would have to be the greatest mob movie ever made – one based on a true story. The lead character, played by Ray Liotta, puts it like this:

“For us to live any other way was nuts. To us, those goody-good people who worked sh**ty jobs for bum paychecks and took the subway to work every day and worried about their bills were dead. I mean, they were suckers … If we wanted something, we just took it. If anyone complained twice, they got hit so bad, believe me, they never complained again.”

Mobbing’s a bit like that but without the physical violence (usually).

It takes many different forms. It can include the discrediting of a colleague’s reputation; the social exclusion of that colleague; direct attacks on their personality; manipulating them to do what they would otherwise never do; using sinister means to block them from receiving a promotion; defamation and rumour; the concealment of information; and intimidation and threats.

When the ringleader happens to be the manager, scholars conclude this results in 'much more severe consequences on the victims…'

When those aggressive acts are executed by just one person, you might at least have others you can turn to for help. But when those actions are inflicted by a group of people with whom you work closely, the ability to find someone who’d believe you over, say, a majority of your team, becomes difficult.

In a European study published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, more than 3000 workers in the healthcare sector were surveyed extensively. Approximately one in five disclosed they were victims of workplace mobbing, with most having suffered the abuse for longer than a year.

And when the ringleader happens to be the manager, as is often the case, the scholars conclude this results in “much more severe consequences on the victims than other types of harassment, causing a greater feeling of loneliness, isolation, and impotence in certain situations”.

I’ve never been the target of mobbing but recall being the witness to such an incident back when I worked in a call centre. My boss, who was viewed by everyone but his superiors as a sociopath, rounded up a group of us so we could play a joke on a colleague – the one person most passionately committed to customer service.



The joke was this. He would set up a fake email account and send himself a made-up complaint from a client. He would tell her it was about her and refuse to provide details. He would then leave her in distress as she called her family (in the UK) in the evening in tears, unable to sleep the entire night.

In the morning we would all convene at her desk – in front of her team – and let her know it was all a prank and we’d have a good laugh – ha ha!

I refused to participate. The script went ahead exactly as described. Except no one had a laugh. On hearing the punchline, my colleague instead exploded with sobs and ran out of the office, with me close behind providing consolation over something I should have warned her about 24 hours earlier.

A delayed reaction I still regret today.

Follow James Adonis on Twitter.

Follow MySmallBusiness on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Source: Read Full Article