With family vacation weeks winding down here in the ski country of the Northeast, I now have the time to post some more thoughts on workplace bullying and mobbing. I hope to include some more humorous anecdotes in the near future...
One of the most insidious side-effects of being mobbed or bullied at work is sympathetic burnout. Quite simply, the need to relate to others the details of the abuse become so prevalent and repetitive that even close friends and relatives don't want to hear about it anymore.
It's entirely understandable. I had a brother-in-law who still bitched on a daily basis about his ex, even though they had parted 18 years earlier. After patiently listening to these complaints nearly every time I saw him, I finally asked bluntly if he was still in love with her since he talked about her more than his current spouse. It may have given him pause for thought since his negative comments declined after that. Also, his daughter from that marriage had turned 18, and had let both parents know that she would have nothing to do with them if the bickering continued.
Unfortunately, the targets of workplace abuse may not have the option to immediately leave, due to personal, professional, or financial obligations. Studies have shown that workers vulnerable in these areas are often the most likely to be targeted.
After a long day or week of having almost unbelievable stunts pulled on you, it's hard not to try to reach out and tell someone who cares about it. However, they feel helpless to do much more than offer platitudes like "just stand up to them" or "laugh in their face" or "go to HR". These courses of action almost always lead to instant and sometimes final retaliation by the mob or bully.
I've sometimes wondered if my own experiences lead to burnout, especially in two of my relationships and even to the readers of my posts.
I do think it's important to somehow relate these feelings to experiences others have had, not only to show them they're not alone, but also to make sense of what happened to me.
This was the impetus of the work the late Tim Field and others have made in the field of combating bullying and mobbing in the workplace.
I'm proud to part of Jobschmob.com and their coherent efforts to make these and other types of workplace abuse known!
Then we need a how-to manual of instructions on how to be bully proof in the first place since protection does not work.
BonusOnus (03/08/2008) Just make sure that the person you confide in about your workplace bullying and other BS is not a coworker.
the confessor (03/09/2008) Not only do you have to be careful in what you confide to co-workers, but also to people you might think are on the sidelines but are not.
I repeatedly complained about the Radio Station from Hell to the manager of the building, who I later found out had a secret desire to run the radio station since he had once worked in advertisng sales. I learned that he resented my presence at the station, believing if I left or got fired that he would be able to take over, including the attentions of the Sleazy Secretary. I confronted him years later and said I'd rather be a has-been than a never-was!!
Robi9n (03/10/2008) You can never trust a coworker. It took me a long time to learn that lesson. I am kind and pleasant to my coworkers but I do not socialize with them after work or at lunch, they are not my friends. It really pisses a few people off that I do not care about their little clique or care what they think about me. I am paid to do a job and I do it with the best of my ability. End of story, I do not come to work to socialize anymore.