What stops abuse at work

Uncategorized May 29, 2020

Even in toxic workplaces, senior managers' goal is to function as a unit — even if it's a horribly dysfunctional or even corrupt unit. Functioning as a unit requires support of the top, even if support doesn't come from the top, in a system with a drastic asymmetry of power. 

So once targets speak up, no matter how justified they are in their claims, they put bullseyes on their backs.

Extremely infrequently, filing a lawsuit or complaint with an outside agency, union, or HR, direct confrontation of an abuser, and intervention from the abuser's boss help targets stop the abuse — making all of these strategies nearly equally effective as doing absolutely nothing.

In fact, doing absolutely nothing can at least prevent the abuse from escalating and preserve a target's reputation in the industry.

But the most effective way to stop the abuse is for targets to remove themselves from the rigged game. We're talking quitting (standing more in one's power than waiting to be...

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The most offensive aspects of abuse at work

Uncategorized May 28, 2020

Abuse is so demeaning, disempowering, and humiliating. Here are some ways the abuse cuts deep, in order of how they often occur:

  1. Painting competence as incompetence. Going after a target's technical skill — usually stronger than the abuser's — is a common tactic for abusers, whose goal is to re-define the image of the target and position the target in a negative light. It's an abuse of power that often takes the form of a negative performance review — a bold lie.
  2. Public humiliation. Abusers add insult to injury when they take their re-defining public. Not only do abusers control the target's image through public humiliation, but they also pile on shame and social isolation, positioning the target as someone not to associate with to avoid the same fate.
  3. Ignoring. Ignoring of complaints often invalidates them in the eyes of targets. It's a form of gaslighting that makes targets question their own sanity and perceptions of feeling wronged or that there's a...
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Do workplace abusers intend to inflict pain?

Uncategorized May 28, 2020

Some might argue that abusive behavior reveals malicious intent. Others say we can't possibly know abusers' intent and that some don't intend to inflict pain, but there should be accountability.

Regardless, many targets — who've all been on the receiving end of abusive behavior and understand nuances of it better than most — believe that abusers at work fully try to inflict pain and that abuse requires deliberate action intended to create or reinforce a hierarchy of power and control.

In fact, while some abusers may just not know better, many use abuse as a tactic to disguise incompetence and deflect it onto those whose competence poses a threat.

 

Take Your Dignity Back
If you feel like you’re stuck in a big rut that’s destroying your life, learn how to reverse the damage. 

Right now, you wish you could just tell your bully at work to knock it off, report the problem to management, and show the bully how childish he or she’s...

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How targets of workplace abuse offset the pain

Uncategorized May 26, 2020

Abuse causes pain, and targets look to both positive and negative vices to offset it:

Negative vices

  • Social isolation. Along with job control, social support is crucial for a healthy work environment. While mobbing creates social isolation, and abuse creates shame and depression that lead to isolation, human connection and validation can help targets of workplace abuse realize they aren't alone and they aren't the problem.
  • Self-destruction. Drinking, overeating, and undereating are all destructive coping mechanisms for abuse.
  • Abuse. Some targets use abuse to cope with abuse, taking their pain out on family and friends.

Positive vices
Human connection, exercise in moderation, spirituality, and focusing on activities that bring us joy and take us out of laser-focusing on the abuse can all help offset the pain and lead to recovery. Once the initial shock and stress wear off, targets tend to look more to positive vices to aid in healing.

 

Take Your Dignity Back
If you feel...

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How targets of workplace abuse find justice without a law

Uncategorized May 26, 2020

When a competent target poses a threat to a deeply insecure aggressor, the target generally feels unfairness and injustice. But how do targets attempt to find justice without a law or without using the legal system, full of asymmetry of power and discrimination, if they have evidence of discrimination?

The sad truth is that most targets of workplace abuse don't find justice. Many simply view justice as consequences (aka job loss) for the abuser and restoring their own employment if they left or were terminated.

But targets can find some justice through:

  • Exposing the abuse — either to senior management or the media. In other words, feeling heard in a situation where they feel invisible and as though their feelings are irrelevant.
  • Advocating for legislation to end workplace abuse, also taking back power by feeling seen and heard.
  • Putting themselves first, often by leaving the job and making their health and career a priority over the toxic workplace.

Hiring an attorney and...

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Do unions help targets of workplace abuse?

Uncategorized May 22, 2020

 

Unions can play a significant role in advocating for workers through collective bargaining agreements.

Yet with a focus on collective action rather than individual action and potentially fragile relationships with employers based on years of negotiating, targets can't always look to their unions for support. What's more: abusers may also be members of the same union, and there are varying degrees of effectiveness across unions — factors that often leave targets with as much faith in their unions as HR.

Ultimately, employers can move their businesses outside the U.S., leaving unions with less leverage than targets hope for. 

 

Take Your Dignity Back
If you feel like you’re stuck in a big rut that’s destroying your life, learn how to reverse the damage. 

Right now, you wish you could just tell your bully at work to knock it off, report the problem to management, and show the bully how childish he or she’s behaving. At...

Continue Reading...

How targets of workplace abuse have to pay for treatment they didn’t deserve

Uncategorized May 22, 2020

Bullying leads to stress, and stress leads to health problems. Health problems can then eventually lead to poor work performance. At that point, targets can either:

  • Take paid sick leave, which lets employees recover from the health problems
  • File for workers compensation
  • Take family medical leave
  • Seek disability insurance

Types of sick leave targets chose
Targets often choose between the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), disability, and workers compensation (WC).

  • FMLA. FMLA is available to employees whose companies have 50+ employees and can be voluntary or forced, paid or unpaid.
  • Disability insurance. Targets can also take short-term or long-term disability. Early retirement may also be an option. 
  • WC. Employees can sometimes claim psychological stress as a work injury (though some states do not allow it). WC claims may interfere with a target's ability to file a lawsuit.

With currently less than one-fifth of all U.S. states have paid FMLA or paid sick leave,...

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Fun ways to generate income when you’re between jobs

Uncategorized May 21, 2020

By Craig Brown

Being between jobs is a tough situation, especially if you're having trouble making ends meet. However, there are lots of ways to cover that employment gap that involve having fun and preparing you for the next step in your career. Here are a few ideas that can help you do that very thing. 

 

First Things First

Before you start tossing around applications, do a little soul searching. Think about why you’re in the situation you’re in. Is your career path stunted or a bad fit? Did you leave a rough situation, such as a toxic atmosphere? Or have you just not found out yet what you really want to do? 

Take some time to sort things out. You might need to talk with a career counselor, invest in your education, or take steps to heal before you’re ready to give your all to a new role. In that case, it’s especially important to choose something that not only keeps bread on the table, but also allows you to gather the tools you need for...

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Mediation and arbitration: more tactics employers use to protect abusers

Uncategorized May 20, 2020

Mediation and other forms of conflict resolution require symmetry of power in which empathy and rational discussion take place.

With abuse, however, there's generally a drastic asymmetry of power, with manipulation and lack of empathy at the core of the desire for power and control.

Mediation doesn't work with abuse at work, just like it doesn't work with domestic abuse. Arbitration is even worse, a common requirement in employment contracts that rids you of your ability to sue no matter what happens at work. 

Targets generally report no positive outcomes with mediation. Rarely are there consequences for abusers. In fact, employers give consequences to targets instead, perceiving them as not inline with company goals and team-focused. 

In most cases, company power is stacked against targets who speak up.

 

Take Your Dignity Back
If you feel like you’re stuck in a big rut that’s destroying your life, learn how to reverse the damage. 

Right...

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Targets vs. business leaders: a major gap in perceptions of workplace abuse as a serious problem

Uncategorized May 19, 2020

When HR departments give training on core values or discrimination, a logical response from employees is to believe their employers care about their well-being.

But not so fast.

When employees take complaints to HR departments, employers often individualize the problem to avoid liability, touting beliefs in employee well-being but take opposite action.

Let's take this disconnect one step further. Author Andrew Faas interviewed 138 leaders about bullying and found that most leaders are unaware of what workplace bullying even is. For those who are aware, most don’t view it as violence or a business risk (even though most said they’d been targets after seeing a definition of it).

Sadly, these findings mean that most cultures are toxic. Faas found that:

  • The majority of leaders said they used bullying to get things done, using fear as a motivator because targets have performance or attitude issues.
  • Most leaders didn’t see the connection between bullying and...
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