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Are you familiar with the term mobbing in the workplace?

Have you been the target of or witnessed bullying at work?

I served as a mentor for middle and high school students. When asked what some of the top issues they faced were, many listed bullying. I knew that bullying was happening when I was in school but didn’t think much about it. I was a student-athlete, so I was never the target of bullies. However, I didn’t allow them to bully others in my presence. I didn’t observe bullying after high school. I assumed people grew out of it. I was wrong.

One of my podcast guests described her experience in a large bureaucratic organization. It appeared that her supervisor and peers wanted someone else to have the position my guest was promoted to. She did everything correctly and was compliant with the instructions her boss provided. Unfortunately, the harder she tried to fit in the more difficult the supervisor and colleagues made it for her. It got so bad, she quit and was so distraught that she didn’t work for a year.

What she experienced was beyond bullying. In my opinion, bullying is one or two people targeting a person. When a whole department targets one person, that’s called mobbing. I didn’t have a name for this behavior until I ran across Julieta’s “Mobbing: 8 Ways to Identify Psychological Harassment at Work & Strategies to Help” article while researching workplace trends. 

As a Life Coach, I work with leaders and employees who want to improve the work environment. They subscribe to the maxim, if we know better, we’ll do better. Those engaging in “mobbing” are doing it with malicious intent. They know better but choose to do otherwise.

There are things you can do to protect yourself. First, continue to do the work to the best of your ability. Second, be magnanimous. Treat them the way you want to be treated even if they don’t reciprocate. Third, always document. Write and/or record inappropriate behavior. Fourth, ask for written performance feedback with constructive suggestions. Fifth, create alliances with those outside the department. Sixth, seek support from Human Resources. Seventh, practice self-care. Finally, seek legal action if necessary. If staying in a toxic work situation is untenable, make sure to get a recommendation that reflects an accurate description of your behavior and work performance. That may be as good as it gets. In other words, leave your self-esteem intact.

What is the most challenging situation you have faced in the workplace?