Mobbing: what is it and how to deal with it?
Mobbing is one of the frequent causes of employees leaving the company. The term was officially recognized by the Swedish scientist Heinz Leimann. In the late 80s of the last century, he made bullying at work a special kind of bullying that needs special attention. He conducted numerous studies and described 45 possible scenarios of harassment of employees.
Mobbing: what is it?
Mobbing is psychological terror in the workplace, arising from colleagues or management. Even his favorite professional activity he is able to turn into a terrible dream. In simple words, “bullying” is a form of harassment. Therefore, it is incorrect to distinguish between bullying and mobbing. The second is a subspecies of the first. Terror manifests itself in many guises. It can be gossip and ridicule, disinformation, slander, picking on, intimidation and ignoring. Particularly common is mobbying and bullying in the educational environment. All kinds of bullying can be conventionally divided into two types in conflictology:
- Latent. Any hidden methods of harassment of a member of the team, when outwardly it is difficult to determine the presence of pressure. A striking example is the silent ignoring of one of the employees by most of the team.
- Open. This is any manifestation visible to the naked eye. For example, attacks and insults, ridicule.
What is the purpose of bullying at work? To find out, let’s turn to the definition of bullying in psychology, given in a popular publication “Territory of Science”: “Bullying is understood as group terror, harassment of an employee by his colleagues, subordinates or superiors, carried out in order to make him leave his workplace or to reduce the degree of his social (professional) influence. For example, a common today’s situation of mobbing at school with respect to a teacher who does not want to give a grade “for a favor”.
The 5 most common types of behavior
|Isolation||Ignoring, discussing and insulting the victim in his presence.|
|Injury to health||Coercion to work under conditions that are physically or mentally threatening.|
|Unwarranted criticism of work||Harassing without reason and assigning tasks not corresponding to qualification (in order to demonstrate inadequacy).|
|Assaults on social status||Spreading rumors and slander about one’s appearance or intellectual capacity.|
|Limiting the opportunity to express an opinion||Any statements are immediately interrupted or ridiculed.|
Key stages in the development of terror
When studying mobbing at work and ways to combat it, it is important to consider the key stages of its development. This will help in time to identify manifestations of persecution and begin to combat them. Why? To prevent the deterioration of the victim and the aggressors to achieve their goal – dismissal. There are five stages in the development of terror:
- Formation of prerequisites. There is a reason for the beginning of the pressure. As such may serve any conflicts and contradictions, as well as a difficult emotional situation in the team. The causes and consequences of mobbing in the organizational environment will be discussed in more detail below.
- Initial stage. The collective unites, discussing the object of persecution. Some (not yet coordinated) actions against him show up. He himself experiences his first emotional breakdowns.
- Active attacks. These are manifested in concerted acts of bullying. These can be collective disinformation, taunts and caustic barbs, dissemination of slander. Any actions and even the presence of a “scapegoat” are perceived with displeasure.
- Ignoring. Bullying enters a new stage – general isolation of a victim from a collective. They deliberately stop noticing her and exclude her from company life outside the work zone. So they deliberately forget to call her to holidays and any events.
- Loss of a place of work. Not understanding how to fight mobbing at work, a person prefers to leave it. If he does not do it on his own, he is forced in an open form or specially problematized his professional activity.
What are the types of mobbing?
Speaking of what is mobbing at work, it is impossible not to mention its varieties. As in any other case of violence, there are several parties – the aggressor, the witnesses and the victim. Depending on which of the team members takes a particular role, workplace mobbing comes in two main types:
- Horizontal. All participants in what is happening are on an equal footing in terms of authority and positions held.
- Vertical. The persecution is initiated by a person in a leading position. Therefore, this type is also called bossing.
Key reasons for mobbing
To understand how to cope with mobbing at work, it is necessary to find its cause. Often its direct discussion with the initiator will disarm the latter and come to a peaceful agreement with him. For example, such a solution is quite feasible when the reason is:
- aggression towards the newcomers;
- fear of competition;
- long-standing grievances and disagreements;
- a desire to reduce the activity of the person’s work so that the others can also perform tasks more slowly.
But there are situations in which even direct talk will do nothing. The reasons for their development lie in the personality itself. In this case, the character traits become the “fuel” for persecution, to go against which makes no sense. Such situations include:
- complexes and the desire to assert themselves at the expense of others;
- Thirst to show power and punish.
What are the consequences of bullying at work?
Professor Davenport, a conflict resolution expert, succinctly described the power of it: “Although bullying and bossing may seem harmless in comparison to rape or other physical violence, the effect it has on the victim, especially if it lasts long enough, is so devastating that some people consider committing suicide.
For the victim
The following changes occur to her (often in the same chronology)
- Feelings of anxiety, fear, or guilt increase;
- Doubts about her professional qualifications and problems with her self-esteem arise;
- serious psycho-emotional problems develop (up to and including depression and suicidal ideation);
- Loss of a job;
- problems with communication.
For the aggressor and accomplices
The desire to hound someone is an unhealthy phenomenon for the psyche, which will inevitably lead to a host of problems:
- loss of authority and trust;
- the formation of inadequate self-esteem;
- serious psychological deformation of the personality.
Mobbing – what is it about the future of the company? Undoubtedly, serious problems in the development and receipt of income. Ignoring it by managers will inevitably lead to an irreparable deterioration of the psychological climate in the team. More and more often there will be quarrels and conflicts that interfere with the coordinated work that can ensure the success of the company.
It is important to understand that in such a situation it is unlikely that any of the employees will be able to keep a neutral position and continue to devote all their energy to the work. After all, in such a case he is most likely to become the next victim of the aggressors. It is therefore worthwhile for all managers to understand the dangers of mobbing at work, as well as to learn ways to deal with it.
How to resist bullying?
What are the ways to deal with bullying at work? How not to miss the beginning of it? Is it worth trying to overcome the negative attitudes against you or should you quit right away? Mobbing and bullying – the essence and ways to confront it?
- Maintain the ability to soberly assess the situation. Otherwise, the first attempts at pressure can be mistaken for a bad joke or just a bad period. Any repeated negative actions are a terror that cannot be ignored!
- Don’t go with your emotions when you are attacked. Your screams and tears are very much expected by the initiators. They will direct them in a profitable direction – to put the person in a disadvantageous light. Use them as a reason to question the competence of the victim. But this does not mean that it is necessary to suppress emotions. Give them an outlet in a circle with your loved ones or a psychologist, work through and let go.
- Use humor. The ability to translate what’s happening into a joke is a powerful weapon in the fight against personal boundary violations. Observing the unwavering optimism, often the initiators of persecution give up in the second stage of mobbing in the team. They are not interested in wasting energy on someone who does not give in to the provocation. Such a confrontation tool is effective at the initial stages. If the attacks continue and intensify, however, it is no time to make a joke of it.
- Leave the collective. In the case of persistent continuation of the mobbing after it has failed to get you off, quit. Asking the management for help with an open form of pressure is hardly worthwhile. If they wanted to help you, they would have done so already. It is likely that the director does not care or is at one with everyone else, and therefore is taking part in staff mobbing himself.
In many European countries, financial and administrative penalties have been introduced in search of a solution to counteract mobbing. The organization’s charter and the employment contract of each employee spell out in detail the responsibility for participating in bullying. Unfortunately, we still do not have such a practice, because many people do not take the phenomenon of bullying seriously in an organization.
The awareness of the possibility of punishment for such actions comes only in the case of proven suicide. This is an extreme scenario that is important to avoid! Therefore, it is better to leave an unkind team led by an indifferent or similar leader. This is a difficult, but unfortunately, often the only sure way to preserve your own well-being.
Effective prevention of bullying
There are three factors, attention to which will serve as the best prevention of bullying in the team:
- Corporate Culture. It is important to hold regular team-building events. These include trips, trainings, holidays in honor of important dates in the company’s work or significant achievements. Humorous competitions also work well, allowing the employees to release emotional stress.
- Psychological climate. If it is not possible to hire a specialist on the staff, it is worth bringing him in to monitor the situation periodically. Especially during moments of new employees.
- Strict suppression of gossip and intrigue. It is difficult not to notice their appearance. They immediately affect the productivity of employees. It is important at the appearance of the first signs to conduct explanatory conversations in private with the participants in the conflict. Here it is also desirable to involve an experienced psychologist or at least a specialist in human resource management. The details of the proceedings should not be taken out of the office.
The personality and actions of the manager are crucial in the prevention of mobbing. Taking care of these points in the company activities, he will not have to break his head over the question of how to counteract mobbing at work.
Mobbing is a real threat to the well-being of employees and a serious obstacle to the development of the company. Therefore, it should not be ignored by either managers or rank-and-file employees. Using the knowledge and tips from this article, you can and should resist it!
Work and communication: ways to protect yourself from mobbing
If an innocent communication at work turns into a mobbying, then your favorite business turns into a living hell. How to avoid it? Mobbing is a form of psychological pressure on a team member by the boss or other employees; sometimes it even turns into physical violence. In any case, the victim of this kind of aggression feels the strongest psychological discomfort. The topic is, unfortunately, very relevant. According to anonymous surveys, in Europe the percentage of victims of mobbing reaches 20%. In Russia, this issue has not been actively discussed, but this does not mean that office bullying does not strike many ordinary employees every working day.
Not peer-to-peer communication: types of mobbing
There are several types of mobbing:
- The so-called “horizontal” involves pressure from the workforce, employees.
- “Vertical” mobbing – the boss exerts psychological pressure on a certain employee or, conversely, the collective does not accept the new boss.
- The third type, “sandwich mobbing”, is the most unpleasant. It is defined by psychological or physical aggression from both the boss and the rest of the team (and they do not seem to notice the mutual negative attitude to the victim of mobbing, as if they are expressing personal animosity).
It is important to distinguish between situational conflicts and real bullying. People can argue to achieve their goals and disagree, but this does not yet indicate serious harassment. Mobbing is prolonged psychological violence that humiliates the personality of a particular person; it is a time-longed intimidation and humiliation.
Personality and mobbing: the causes of bullying in the team
Quite often innocent communication at work spills over into mobbing. The reasons for this can be very different. Some of the most common ones include:
People can be jealous of beauty, professional success, youth, experience in solving certain issues, and marital status. Especially often burning envy arises where there is a new young professional who starts boasting about his advantages (good looks, a happy family, trips abroad, etc.) from the very doorstep.
There is a type of person who thinks that at work you can and should relax, gossip. It is such persons who engage in mobbying out of boredom, bullying the less aggressive, timid members of the team.
- Striving to assert personal status in the collective
Tyrants thus expand their personal space, the level of influence on subordinates and colleagues.
- Tendency to sadism
Many aggressive mobbers from the very process of bullying get genuine pleasure.
- Fierce competition in the workplace
In this case, the victim of violence becomes a person who is a successful employee, who has a good salary and enjoys the well-deserved respect of his superiors.
Sometimes bullying is a product of a prevailing unhealthy atmosphere in a company (for example, when communication in the team is based on “backstage games” and gossip, and the administration does not intervene in such behavior). In some cases, this kind of tyranny is associated with the rejection by certain members of the team of outsiders (nationality, place of residence), dissenters, sullen individualists. A major workplace conflict can also serve as an occasion to harass one or more members of the work community.
An invasion of personal space: the tools of mobbing
The victim of mobbing is usually stopped communicating with, greeted, and boycotted. The unfortunate person suffers from ridicule, open aggression, threats of physical violence, and sometimes fists are used. Vertical” and “sandwich mobbing” are characterized by unreasonable picking on the part of superiors and constant pressure. Intrigues are woven in the company, the person is ridiculed to his/her face and “behind his/her eyes”; misinformation, deception, denunciation is used. In general, members of the team do everything to make the particular person feel vulnerable and eventually quit.
Ways of protection against psychological violence
Mobbing is a destructive phenomenon for the individual, limiting his personal space, undermining his spirit and self-confidence. There are several proven techniques, the use of which will help provide protection against this kind of aggression. The general pattern of behavior can be divided into the following components:
For example, if you are not new to the team, but you have not been lucky enough to become a victim of mobbing, it will be quite easy for you to identify the leading cause of bullying. You may have been praised by your boss, you may have broken the unwritten rules of the work community, you may have bragged about a great vacation, or you may have crossed someone’s path. Analyze your behavior and correct what’s possible. Even wearing an overly flamboyant, revealing outfit can cause harassment from others.
- Getting away from opposing yourself to the collective
Protecting their personal space, many people decide to use the principle of “an eye for an eye. This is not the wisest decision in the circumstances in question. It is better to make communication markedly friendly and directed to all team members (even to those who carry out the bullying). With this approach, any aggressor will be confused and his pressure will be reduced or eliminated.
- Ignoring the psychological terror
When communicating with mobbers (aggressive personalities) it is desirable for the victim of attacks to remain calm as much as possible. It is strong emotions, fear, expectation of a new moral blow that feed the negative situation, giving pleasure to the aggressors. It is important to learn to abstract away from the oppressive situation, correctly setting priorities for oneself: work is for earning money and career growth; there is no need to love everyone and be on friendly terms with everyone. Work relationships and personal life are two different things.
- Keeping personal information a secret
You don’t need to talk in detail at work about your life, successes, victories, and purchases. You don’t want to “tease the dragon”! Often the victims of mobbing do not even realize that they are simply jealous of their colleagues.
- Identification of the leader among the mobbers
It makes sense for the victim of attacks to carefully analyze the composition of the team and try to identify the most active aggressor. After that you can talk openly with the “leader of the gang” and find out directly what the problem is. Next you need to act on the basis of the information obtained.
- Preparedness for self-defense
The person who has become the object of harassment, it is important and necessary to learn to defend his position, to defend himself if necessary, but at the same time not to go into a direct attack.
- Emphasis on faithful performance of work duties
The victim of collective pressure must continue to work well, no matter what happens, analyzing their own behavior and removing shortcomings as necessary. It is important to show your superiors your successes, to write down on the paper all the details of the progress of any projects, not to forget to specify the responsible persons so that in case of failure you would be able to defend your positions.
- Caution in communication
Do not ignore the unwritten rules of the team. For example, if you just started in the position, you need to look around. Do not rush in search of friends among the new colleagues or frank with the first encounter. Be sure to understand how the employees live and breathe, what they disapprove of, what initiatives they support.
Man, who became the object of harassment in the workplace, can feel a powerful discomfort of communicating with colleagues and fall into real despair. If you find yourself in such a difficult position and can not pick the right tactic of behavior, it makes sense to contact an experienced psychologist. Often it is the outside view is able to put everything in its place and open the easiest way to solve the problem.