Why workplace mobbing is more common than workplace bullying

It’s no surprise that bosses are more likely to bully at work than coworkers or subordinates. But what may be surprising is that bosses alone aren’t most likely to abuse. It's a phenomenon we call mobbing, an abuse tactic involving a lone abuser enlisting others' help.

Others comply for a few possible reasons:

  • The abuser told them the target is a problem — and they believed it.
  • They feel pressured to go along to get along, fearing they'll become the next target if they speak up.
  • They understand the social game of the workplace and that upward mobility depends on their support of the boss, who's often the abuser.

It’s abuse of power that leads targets to isolation, and fear prevents the reverse from happening. Though collective action is one of the most effective ways to combat abuse at work, subordinates rarely join together to go against a boss out of fear of losing their jobs or becoming targets themselves.

 

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Now healing, a telecom worker describes getting bullied on the job

I work for a large telecommunications company. In 2013, offshoring hit my office hard, and I jumped ship, leaving my office job to go to a field position. Because of the contract under which I work, with no experience under my belt, I was able to skip to the highest level of field tech, which generated hard feelings amongst techs who had been in the field longer than myself who were trying to attain the level at which I was automatically placed.

Little did I know what drama this was to incur.

I am also female in my senior years. I was first put under the best supervisor in the field, which gave me a false sense of security because he shielded me from the situation I had unknowingly placed myself. He moved on, and I had another great supervisor who moved on as well.

Then I was placed under a rookie supervisor who 1) did everything his boss told him to do — including bullying me — and 2) did not know how to train a new person so resorted to bullying techniques to protect...

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How one advocate was fired for not taking part in the new manager's clique

I'm a 54-year old psychiatric RN day charge nurse who worked for the same employer for over 23 years. I had a perfect record on all my evaluations up until about two years ago, when my supervisor of many years resigned after management asked her to do unethical things.

The new young male supervisor sided with bullies and believed whatever they said. The bullies hated me because I would not be a part of their unscrupulous tactics. The new supervisor loved one of the young, pretty nurses. After she would leave his office, he would dance around me singing "out with the old and in with the new!" This nurse, the secretary, and another nurse would constantly ask me "what would you do if you lost your job?" and "don't you want to stay home with your new grandson?"

The harassment, ostracizing, and mind games came about swiftly. My schedule was changed from dayshift to 12-hour shifts. One of the main male bullies was moved to the dayshift. I was outnumbered by all the bullies at that...

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