Workplace Harassment: Definition and Examples

Psychological bullying in the workplace, also known as workplace mobbing, is a common problem. Although the terminology to refer to this situation is new, the phenomenon has existed in different forms since the beginning of the world of work. The definition of workplace mobbing would be “harassing, systematic and persistent attacks that aim to intimidate, insult, overwhelm, exclude, ignore, lack of respect, etc.”. This means that the targeted victim is exposed to intentional and systematic bad behavior and bad language.

Currently, workplace mobbing is on the rise compared to other types of harassment, which generates a series of negative effects on the work performance of workers and therefore of the company. In this psychology article, we will talk about workplace bullying, its definition and some examples.

Definition of workplace harassment or mobbing

Mobbing includes a group of people whose size is limited by the social environment in which it is formed, such as the workplace. It may seem to the person who is mobbed that many people are involved, but in reality the group is usually small. Group members interact directly with the victim in an adversarial way that ends up significantly damaging or undermining the victim.

During mobbing, the target is tricked into fighting, blaming and trying to hold the minor aggressors in the mobbing group responsible rather than the main culprit. The main reason a psychopathic boss bully gets away with it repeatedly is that no one wants to believe that he / she could be the cause of what is happening. This is also the reason that many pedophiles and abusers avoid responsibility and punishment for years, often decades. They seem very charming and plausible to naive, ignorant and inexperienced people, usually to those who have not experienced bullying from you. Leaders are very prone to use people as resources and manage them as they please, and thus manipulate them to continue harassing, victimizing and pursuing the target.

Workplace harassment: legal definition

The word mobbing refers to those situations in which a person is selected and intimidated by a group of people rather than just one person, but in each group there is usually a leader. If the leader is an extrovert, it is clear that he is the one who is coercing the group members to do it, but if he is an introvert, he will manipulate the group members from behind to do whatever he wants. Introverted leaders are more dangerous than extroverts.

Workplace harassment: what to do

A rule of thumb when dealing with a mobbing situation is to identify and focus exclusively on the main bully and focus on holding him or her accountable. Alternatively, the best solution may be to make a positive decision to leave and refuse to allow these people to continue to ruin your career, health, and life. In the unlikely event that the leader is exposed and then leaves, the dysfunction, aggression, and negative feelings fostered by him or her are likely to linger for years.

Tips to deal with workplace mobbing

The best way to deal with workplace mobbing is to increase resilience, improve self-care and leave as soon as possible. Since on many occasions it is practically impossible to win the battle against organizations that have mobbing tactics. Some things you can do to recover from workplace mobbing are:

  • Write everything in detail : from the first signs that something is wrong, even to feelings or hunches, and record all incidents you suffer in a kind of diary. The more evidence you have the better it will be in case at any point you are forced to take legal action.
  • Give yourself time and space to figure things out. Find someone who has authority at work who you can talk to about it.
  • Form a support network to heal and end isolation. A good clinical psychologist can help you develop recovery strategies. It is essential to receive good advice and support from close people.
  • Make self - care a priority. Focus on what you really want. And try to follow a balanced diet, do physical exercise or any activity that makes you enjoy.
  • Start doing important activities in your life. Set new emotional goals . Focus on improving your self-esteem through the completion of new challenges.

Examples of workplace harassment

In a mobbing situation, the leader incites immature, inexperienced, or emotionally unstable people with low values ​​to engage in harassment against the selected target. The leader receives gratification from encouraging others to engage in this type of interaction with the victim. Once the mobbing begins , the main bully encourages the mobbing in mutually assured destruction, from which the main bully receives intense gratification (this is a characteristic of people with psychopathic personalities).

Below we will list the main examples of types of workplace harassment :

  • Vertical harassment or bossing: when the boss exercises some kind of violence towards his subordinates.
  • Ascending vertical harassment: in this case, the aggression comes from subordinates.
  • Horizontal workplace harassment: when mobbing occurs between colleagues of the same hierarchical level.

Consequences of workplace mobbing on the victim

Once we have talked about workplace harassment, its definition and examples. It is important to talk about the consequences that mobbing has on the people who suffer it.

The effects of workplace harassment don't end when your workday ends. Being a victim of workplace mobbing has a series of negative physical and psychological consequences :

  • Stress
  • Workplace bullying anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Sleep problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Ulcers

Effects of workplace mobbing on job performance

Those workers who suffer workplace mobbing tend to have a worse performance at work:

  • Decision making problems
  • Inability to work or concentrate
  • Loss of self esteem
  • Low productivity

Workers who have suffered mobbing not only lose motivation but also waste time because they are concerned about:

  • Try to defend yourself
  • Avoid mobbing
  • Your support network
  • Rumination about the situation
  • Plan how to deal with the situation

In addition, they have a feeling of isolation. In fact, the person who is mobbed may feel powerless, disoriented, confused, etc.

Consequences of labor mobbing in the company

Workplace mobbing not only has negative effects on the victim and their colleagues, but also on the company at a more macro level. In addition to altering the work environment and impacting worker morale, it can also:

  • Reduce productivity
  • Create a hostile work environment
  • Promote absenteeism
  • It can produce costs for legal issues

Other costly business effects of labor mobbing include:

  • Affecting the commitment and loyalty of the employee
  • Additional costs when searching and training new employees
  • Bad public image and negative publicity
  • Increased risk of any legal action