Posts Tagged ‘bullied targets’
Friday, December 6th, 2013
A Recovery Guide for
By Maureen Duffy & Len Sperry
A powerful, practical book that accurately reflects the entire bullying experience. These two clinicians, Duffy a clinical psychologist and Sperry a psychiatrist, demonstrate a deep understanding of bullied individuals and what it takes to heal them so life can be lived after bullying.The subtitle says it all — Recovery.
From the Foreword
Practical is the adjective to best describe this book. Though it is rich in citations and relies on science, applicability to real lives, real families and real organizations jumps off the pages. It tackles an admittedly complex subject with an accessible writing style that showcases illustrations and summary lists and tables. Points are driven home artfully with compassion for victims present throughout …
The blunt and truthful authors then describe how organizations create “shadow files” and do whatever it takes for administrators hide behind the myth that it is a “good and fair place to work.” Hypocritically, those employers discard good employees as though they are dispensable resources using the tactics of mobbing fueled by the hurtful power of social exclusion, ostracism …
The authors do not leave the reader submerged in the dark side of the world of work. Ultimately, the book is about hope and inspiration. So, the seventh chapter signals the shift toward a discussion of recovery from mobbing. The valuable advice flows steadily and includes gems such as “don’t make fighting the organization that mobbed you your next career.” Their wisdom extends to selecting psychotherapists who practice “trauma-informed mental health care” by taking into account the organizational, cultural and power dynamics factors that instigated the mobbing experience rather than a focus on the victim’s vulnerability …
The authors’ defiantly critique the “bad apple,” personality-dominated explanation for mobbing. They give the reader an introduction to work environments and their working parts. Personalities of perpetrators comprise only a small part …
Hooray for Duffy and Sperry’s clarity in pronouncing that banishing bullies does not end the systemic problem. As the authors write “it takes an organization” to create it, and that’s what it takes to stop it. ###
There is wisdom for organizational reps for those smart enough to apply the lessons contained inside. However, this book is primarily for bullied targets and the families who love them.
About the authors
Maureen Duffy, PhD, is a practicing family therapist and consultant specializing in workplace and school mobbing and bullying issues and an Affiliate with the Qualitative Research Graduate Program at Nova Southeastern University She provides trauma-informed psychotherapy to targets of mobbing and bullying and their families and consultation and training on workplace abuse to stakeholders including human resource managers and attorneys. She is the coauthor of Mobbing: Causes, Consequences, and Solutions.
Len Sperry, MD, PhD, is Professor of Mental Health Counseling at Florida Atlantic University and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Medical College of Wisconsin. He has provided psychotherapy to mobbing victims and consulted with corporations on mobbing and bullying. He is the coauthor of Mobbing: Causes, Consequences, and Solutions.
Tags: bullied targets, Len Sperry, Maureen Duffy, Mobbing, organizational factors, self help, strategies, therapy, trauma, workplace bullying
Posted in Books, Bullying-Related Research, Good News, Hear Ye! Hear Ye! 2, Media About Bullying, Social/Mgmt/Epid Sciences, Tutorials About Bullying | 1 Archived Comment | Post A Comment (
Thursday, December 5th, 2013
A Nasty Piece of Work:
Translating a Decade of Research
on Non-Sexual Harassment,
Psychological Terror, Mobbing,
and Emotional Abuse on the Job
By Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik, Ph.D.
North Dakota State University
Dr. Lutgen-Sandvik is arguably one of the most prolific American academic researchers on the topic of workplace bullying. She certainly is the best informed among academics, with few exceptions.
Pam is real. From her bio, prior to earning her doctorate in organizational communication at Arizona State she worked as a social service organization administrator, first in the field of women’s advocacy and then in outpatient substance abuse treatment. Advocacy in the human services field is a rare background for academics.
Pam’s practical, kick ‘em in the shins approach to the esoteric world of academic research is revealed in the titles of some of her works — “Nightmares, demons & slaves” (can you hear Cher?), “Take this job and shove …” “Burned by bullying in America.” And her style of collecting research data was to talk with bullied targets.
This book is a compilation of her work. It is not written by an egghead. The subtitle refers to her “translating” research into plainspeak. That’s what she is profoundly good at doing well. Thus, it is ultimately readable.
The information found between the covers is useful if you are fighting a grievance, filing a complaint, embroiled in a lawsuit, or facing blank stares from HR.
The book covers many aspects of the bullying phenomenon with chapters on each — the prevalence, the stages of bullying, explaining the pain, the trauma and stigma of being bullied, how organizations become toxic, why women bully women, behavior of witnesses, and reversing the effects of bullying in individuals’ lives.
Pam dedicates the book to all those bullied individuals who bravely participated in her research.
In 2013, she moved to North Dakota State (NDSU) in 2013 to join the Department of Communication in Fargo. She continues to research, publish, and teach in the area of organizational communication at NDSU and serves as the Director of the NDSU Communication Research & Training Center. Dr. Lutgen-Sandvik is married, has two children, and lives in Moorhead, MN.
Also, in 2013, Pam attended the WBI Workplace Bullying University® training for professionals in Bellingham, Washington to which she contributed mightily.
Pam declares that
All proceeds from book sales support scientific research that seeks to reduce workplace bullying, improve workplace communications and build more respectful workplace climates.
Where else can approx. $11 accomplish all that? Buy this book for yourself and as gifts for loved ones who have been bullied at work. While shopping, also buy Overcoming Mobbing by Duffy & Sperry new this holiday season 2013, and our book, The Bully At Work. They will be forever grateful.
With Pam, our admiration is personal. She came to Bellingham to meet us Namies in 2003 before her graduate studies were finished. She came to glean all she could from Dr. Ruth. So she is more than an intellectual colleague, she is a precious friend. We bought the book. You should, too.
Tags: bullied targets, emotional abuse, Len Sperry, Mobbing, non-sexual harassment, Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik, psychological terror, research, self help, workplace bullying, workplace bullying book
Posted in Books, Bullying-Related Research, Good News, Hear Ye! Hear Ye! 2, Media About Bullying, Social/Mgmt/Epid Sciences | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Friday, November 8th, 2013
Jonathan Martin, the bullied offensive lineman, speaking through his attorney said that he “looks forward to getting back to playing football.” This possibly may happen. We predict it will not be with the Miami Dolphins against whom he has registered the complaint that launched an NFL investigation.
As bullied targets know so well, once a complaint is filed, retaliation is the norm (in 99% of cases, in fact). Organizations cannot stand exposure as a place that fosters bullying even though it happens nearly everywhere. They tirelessly defend hurtful actions. They direct attention away from their management-approved actions by attacking the complainant. Pay no attention to what happened to Jonathan Martin — even though we now know coaches ordered the mistreatment and the general manager thought Martin weak for not punching Incognito — instead notice how “withdrawn and shy” Martin was. As if he “deserved” mistreatment.
Tags: abusive work environment, bullied targets, Gary Namie, Jonathan Martin, Miami Dolphins, safe workplace, workplace bullying
Posted in NFL: Jonathan Martin, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Tuesday, November 5th, 2013
The inaction of witnesses is an underreported aspect of the media saturation coverage of the Martin-Dolphins-Incognito bullying case.
As all bullied targets are aware, witnessing coworkers do little to help. In less than 2% of cases they spring to action to help bullied colleagues. [See the WBI 2008 Coworker Response survey] They are fearful — of being next, of betraying the bully and of getting harmed when intervening.
In the Dolphins locker room, there were many 300 pound witnesses to Richie Incognito’s mistreatment of Jonathan Martin. Why didn’t they simply stomp Incognito into the ground?
Here are some reasons.
(1) Incognito had “leader” status among the players. By some he was revered. Remember a coach called him a “model citizen.” He was the NFL personified.
(2) Incognito had a history of aggression with some. In the past he might have made them his targets. Burned once, former targets lay low.
(3) Cowardly witnesses — professional athletes and accountants alike — don’t want to get involved, reasoning it safest for them to stay out of others’ disputes. These are the do-nothing enablers. They are the “good Germans” Hitler depended on to tame the nation.
(4) Witnesses rationalize their failure to stand by colleagues hurt by relationships within the team by believing that the bullied target somehow deserved his fate. Martin must have angered Incognito for Incognito to have ridden him for a full season and one-half. This blame-the-victim tendency is not restricted to sports organizations or workplaces in general; it is societal. It is called the Fundamental Attribution Error.
(5) The target deserved his fate. Martin is not a full participant in the macho NFL culture as practiced in the Dolphins locker room.
We observers of bullying in our workplaces declare that we would intervene because it is the right thing to do. However, this optimism is balderdash. When circumstances call for intervention, we are all cowards.
To date, Martin is alone in walking out. He should not expect much public support, though friends will call confidentially. Incognito’s sycophants will Twitter his virtues for the world to read.
Follow the full story in the Category list in the sidebar: NFL: Jonathan Martin
Tags: bullied targets, bystanders, coworkers, Gary Namie, Joe Philbin, Jonathan Martin, Miami Dolphins, NFL, Richie Incognito, witnesses
Posted in NFL: Jonathan Martin, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Friday, October 25th, 2013
#5: Freedom from Fear
Fear is the dominant emotional identifier in workplaces where bullying has struck. Bullies engineered it that way. When the targeted person is paralyzed by fear, there can be no counter-aggression, no blinding retort that would neutralize the perpetrator. Similarly, fearful coworker-witnesses will not rise up to defend their bullied colleague.
Fear takes many forms:
- Fear to confront swiftly & immediately is mainly felt by witnesses. Of course, deciding to take no action is based on a skewed internal calculus. We irrationally imagine worst case scenarios, magnifying relatively small risks into large ones. Clinicians call it “catastrophizing.” The worry: “if I intervene, I will be slain, figuratively.” That’s an imagined risk and not likely to happen. In fact, everyone suffers more when the bully is allowed to pursue her or his aggression without being stopped by witnesses who have the numerical power to overcome a lone perpetrator. In other words, the failure to stop the bullying poses a real risk to the entire workplace worse than the imagined one. However, the self-generated rationale for coworker inaction is fear of being the next target, of being persecuted for defending the target, of being the only one of the entire team to act, of botching an intervention attempt, or of getting involved in what could be construed as a private battle between two workers.
• For targets, shock from being told they are incompetent overwhelms both coping and decision-making skills. Rational thought becomes almost impossible. The magnitude of the lie is so stunning and incredulous, personal shame and guilt are the most probable initial emotions. After the first assaults, targets fall into a pattern of anxious anticipation of each encounter.
• Long-term harm to witnesses includes clinical depression (yes, just from witnessing bullying) and guilt over not defending a friend.
• No one suffers as much as targets, the direct recipients of abuse. Long-term damage to targets is from anxiety that strengthens when employers block separation from bullies. Anxiety and fear activate the human stress response. Targets are trapped. As exposure to the stressor of workplace bullying extends weeks into months and months into years, health harm worsens. Our biological reaction to stressors is supposed to be brief to minimize harm. Stress-related diseases, from unremitting incidents, affect entire systems — cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, immunological, chronic kidney disease, rheumatological, cortical volume in memory & decision making brain areas, and disruption of DNA replication that accelerates aging. These diseases can kill.
• As bullying continues unabated by inept institutional representatives, targets’ emotional injuries grow more severe. 80% experience debilitating anxiety, 50% suffer panic attacks, 49% are diagnosed with clinical depression, 66% have trauma-like states of agitation and anger, and 83% experience acute apprehension of the next negative act. This is a compromised life, of always walking on eggshells in light of impending danger.
• Stressors responsible for all of the ill effects for those unfortunately targeted include: tactical threats to job security, sabotage of work, verbal threats to personal safety, attempts by perpetrators to redefine one’s self-definition and self-image, intimidating interpersonal behavior, humiliating actions designed to instill a sense of shame or worthlessness. Remarkably, ALL of these actions are preventable! None make a positive contribution to any workplace. Despite the claim that fear is a useful motivator, in the long-run it fosters disloyalty and resentment. Only unskilled managers routinely rely on fear.
In a sense, the desire to establish fear in the hearts of targeted workers underlies the robbery of the other principal workplace Freedoms — Social Affiliation, Dignity, Credibility, and Innocence.
Sadly, perpetrators of targets’ fear are perhaps very fearful themselves. They are mortified of revelations of their personal weaknesses. Some are technically incompetent. Some have only their record of butt-kissing to protect them from termination. Some are socially inept, lacking emotional intelligence. Some are so narcissistic or mean (antisocial), they know their glowing reputation is a farce if the truth ever be found. In some way, all bullies are imposters, with a fictitious public persona masking a darker abhorrent self hiding in the shadows.
It is important we make helping individuals exploited by the imposters our top priority. Let’s drive out fear within our organizations on behalf of the victimized.
To Affiliate with Friends | Dignity at Work | To be Believed | To be Innocent | From Fear
Thursday, October 24th, 2013
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
#3: Freedom to be Believed
Adults expect that when they speak, others will accept their version of reality as truth. This is especially true of guileless people who do not scam or scheme others. They speak about what they honestly see, felt or think.
Bullied targets are prone to wait a long time before confronting their bully (and thus being completely ineffective). Then, when the tale is finally told, it is spewed out like verbal salad — confusing, emotional, disjointed, out of sequence and very vivid. The form of the presentation makes it easy to dismiss. Raw hurt emotions scare listeners. They tune out. The facts about extreme incidents of abuse strain credulity.
Of course, unchecked bullying does escalate and becomes more dehumanizing. It is hard to believe that “Bob” is capable of abuse that the target reports. It all seems less credible when the incidents happened behind closed doors. Bob says he never did it (no duh).
The result — bullied targets are not believed. They are branded paranoid, conspiratorial, delusion or mentally ill. This further frustrates targets. They waited a long time to report their misery only to be discounted or laughed at. They thought the employer would be diligent and want to stop the abuse.
Behind the circling of the wagons around Bob is that Bob enjoys protection from his “executive sponsor.” The entire organization now turns against the reporting target. She or he is branded a troublemaker for daring to say negative things about someone or the way things are unfairly done. People who appear non-compliant with the dominant norm are branded “uncivil.” That ability of targets to speak truth to power is eventually worn down. Sadly, after weeks or months of exclusion from the workteam, targets become more compliant. They give in. Sadly, they accept the alienation, isolation and rejection characterizing their world of work.
Disbelief of targets also is fueled by the hierarchy in organizations. The majority (72%) of bullies are bosses. Over half of targets are non-supervisory workers. It’s simple (and incorrect) logic. Bosses are believed without question; workers are doubted. Thus, bullies’ version of reality are accepted as fact. Targets’ tales, which sound eccentric and emotional, are discounted. In other words, regardless of the people involved — a pathological liar bully and moral principled target — bosses are believed while complainants are not.
It doesn’t matter to targets that the process may be impersonal. Being called a liar when they know they are telling the truth is taken very personally. Why doesn’t HR and management believe them? Targets underestimate that the majority of workers stay in their role and follow orders, as a manager expected to support other managers, as a HR staffer expected to support management. It always seems to surprise targets how unsupportive their employers are.
The only hope to change this cycle of not believing people who complain about bullying is to stop relying on internal staff to handle complaint-investigation-correction processes. External professionals trained in the dynamics of workplace bullying need to get involved. The biases and allegiance to role preclude HR or managers from honest fact-finding. Internal groups are invested in the outcomes of an investigation.
To HR and managers, it seems natural that they would handle complaints. The well established record of failing to conduct fair investigations and the collateral damage to veteran workers’ careers caused by the complaining combine to suggest changes.
Principled moral people like bullied targets deserve to be believed when they are telling the truth.
Liars — bullies or targets — do not deserve protection from their organizations.
To Affiliate with Friends | Dignity at Work | To be Believed | To be Innocent | From Fear
Tags: believing targets, bullied targets, Freedom from workplace bullies week, Gary Namie, Workplace Bullying Institute
Posted in Freedom Week, WBI Education | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Thursday, September 19th, 2013
WBI review of an academic research study:
Diekmann, K.A., Walker, S.D.S., Galinsky, A.D., & Tenbrunsel, A.E. (2012) Double victimization in the workplace: Why observers condemn passive victims of sexual harassment. Organization Science, 2012, 1-15.
A well practiced tendency of observers of workplace harassment, coworkers of the targeted person, is to declare that they themselves would have taken more action to stop the harassment than the victim did.
The researchers in this study call this prediction “forecasting,” and people claim they would do more than they actually do. They have an optimism bias, especially with respect to moral or socially desirable conduct. No one wants to admit they would not do “the right thing” when opportunities present themselves. And there is an equal underestimation of how likely they would be to yield to social pressure and self-interest.
A common consequence of such observer hubris is the subsequent condemnation of victims for failing to have acted — to resist, to confront, to report, to reverse the harassment. Of course, as WBI research shows, confrontation fails to stop the negative conduct and leads to retaliation of the victim which exacerbates the suffering.
Staying passive is the preferred choice of both sexual harassment victims and bullied targets. From their perspective, it is safer than alternatives. However, observers may interpret passivity as weakness. Thus, harassment victims are harmed twice over.
Tags: A.D. Galinsky, A.E. Tenbrunsel, bullied targets, double victimization, fundamental attribution error, Gary Namie, K. A. Diekmann, S.D.S. Walker, sexual harassment, social forecasting, social science research, victim denigration, workplace bullying
Posted in Bullying-Related Research, Social/Mgmt/Epid Sciences, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013
“When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers … we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Workplace bullying is sustained through indifference, providing tacit support for bullies, or deliberate decisions that kill anti-bullying initiatives. Let’s start at the top of organizations and work our way down the levels exploring how bullies kill anti-bullying efforts.
At the top. When the perpetrator-bully is a privileged resident of the C-suite, as a Chief X Officer — e.g., where X is Executive, Information, Nursing or Financial, he or she can void any well-intentioned initiative devised at lower levels. And everyone is ranked beneath the C-suite dwellers.
CXO’s can overturn findings from complaint-driven investigations that pin responsibility on a bully manager. It does not matter how much the investigation cost. It matters even less that the perception of fairness is undermined by executive reversals. It is the way executives act — protecting their buddies and sycophants.
Typically, anti-bullying efforts begin at the HR level. HR is not recognized as a credible contributor to the C-suite, even if HR has a rep on the executive team. So, even if an enlightened HR devises a strategy to combat workplace bullying, the CXO can kill plans because it either threatens that CXO personally or exposes a sponsored protege of that CXO who is a bully. Principled HR executives are fired for daring to propose terminating costly high-ranked perpetrators.
CXO bullies prevent change efforts. No one who wants to keep working has the courage to confront the CXO about his or her personal conduct. Traditional, but not our, advice compels targets to confront their bullies. It’s hypocritical that this standard is not suggested when the CXO is the bully. It’s obvious to everyone that that confrontation will be unsuccessful. Research shows that confronting is ineffective at stopping the bullying at any level.
Tags: anti-bullying initiatives, bullied targets, Gary Namie, victims of bullying at work, workplace bullying, workplace bullying task force
Posted in Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education | 1 Archived Comment | Post A Comment (
Tuesday, August 13th, 2013
WBI colleague and Suffolk University Law Professor David Yamada reports in his blog that unemployment insurance is possible for workers who voluntarily quit because of workplace bullying. The examples are specific to New York state, but there is hope. He writes:
disrespectful and bullying-type behaviors that exceed the bounds of propriety (that appears to be the key phrase) may constitute good cause to voluntarily leave a job and thus not disqualify someone from receiving unemployment benefits.
Actual case file numbers are provided in his essay for use in other states. Thanks to David for adding another tool to the survival kit for bullied targets.