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Workplace Mobbing and Bullying
What's the Difference Between Workplace
Mobbing and Bullying?
The word "bullying" is often used in the
context of children abusing other children in a manner
that often has a physical aspect. Due to laws, social
constraints and company policies, etc. adult bullies
in the workplace are forced to use more subtle tactics.
Mobbing usually does not involve actual physical
violence, although threats of violence are used to
intimidate and create mental distress in the target
and is usually more of a psychological or emotional
terrorization occurring in the workplace.
As such mobbing is also referred to as adult bullying,
workplace bullying, psychological harassment or status-blind
harassment. These various phrases allude to these
characteristics: usually mental rather than physical
abuse, the "bullying" is perpetrated by
an adult against another adult, that this occurs in
the workplace, and that there is group involvement.
The word "mobbing" says all of this concisely.
When someone is being harassed at work by a bully
they are indeed being bullied. If a bully harasses
you for the first, the second or the hundredth time
you are certainly being bullied, but you are not,
necessarily, the target of a mobbing.
Mobbing occurs in environments conducive to its development.
Like viruses they need the right conditions to thrive.
This usually involves workplaces with poor management
lacking in conflict resolution skills and lacking
in awareness about mobbing and its consequences. Worse
still are workplaces where management knowingly utilizes
mobbing tactics as a means to eliminate staff in spite
of the, sometimes fatal, devastation it causes.
The bullies will systematically discredit their target
to erode any support the target may seek out later.
Bullies slander their target's reputation to anyone
who will listen: co-workers, management, union representatives,
human resources, etc.
A mobbing is this larger involvement of the group
in the bullying. Management and unions withdraw support
and eventually participate in attacking the target
with as much enthusiasm as the (original) bully. Co-workers
are afraid for themselves and either look the other
way or actively participate. The group is set against
It is a dysfunctional group response to the abuse
of one of its members. Rather than address the abuse,
the group instead seeks to silence and destroy the
messenger. It is like a disease that causes the body's
immune system to destroy healthy parts of itself.
Responsible managers will want to protect their employees,
their company and their bottom line from the ravages
of bullies, but how can you tell if your workplace
has become infected with the mobbing virus?
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