Posts Tagged ‘bullied targets’


Oettingen: Positive thinking not always effective

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

I’ve always had a negative reaction to positive psychology despite a sometimes unjustifiable optimism. The contrarian in me seeks the alternative path when the mainstream suggests we all get in line like sheep, think alike and go down the same road. As a psychologist, I saw positivism as my field’s attempt to reinvent a history of its dark obsession with abnormality forged by European pioneers.

Related to my life immersed in bullying and injured bullied targets, I see newcomers and nitwits give targets bad advice. Some invoke positive thinking. Feel good affirmations cannot pierce the shroud under which bullied, anxious, and depressed targets find themselves. Can they? Of course, being told to “get real,” and “just grow a thicker skin” are equally inane and ineffective admonitions. Where’s the middle ground?

I found the realistic alternative to positivism in the work of German psychologist and researcher Gabriele Oettingen who teaches at New York University. Here are citations from an essay she recently wrote for the New York Times and the lengthier statements from her university webpage. Her approach seems best suited to targets seeking ways to overcome their adversity foisted upon them involuntarily.

Mental Contrasting

“Mental contrasting” has produced powerful results in laboratory experiments. When participants have performed mental contrasting with reasonable, potentially attainable wishes, they have come away more energized and achieved better results compared with participants who either positively fantasized or dwelt on the obstacles.

When participants have performed mental contrasting with wishes that are not reasonable or attainable, they have disengaged more from these wishes. Mental contrasting spurs us on when it makes sense to pursue a wish, and lets us abandon wishes more readily when it doesn’t, so that we can go after other, more reasonable ambitions.

WBI: This approach seems to give permission to the person to let go of unattainable goals — e.g., convincing your employer to fire the bully — freeing the person to pursue wholeheartedly realistic goals — e.g., finding the next job, taking time off from work to heal or spending time with family and loved ones to repair strained relationships that matter more than work.

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Posted in Bullying-Related Research, Social/Mgmt/Epid Sciences, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education | 2 Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



Workplace Bullying: Dare we call it terror?

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Posing this question on the internet is risky, certain to draw unsolicited government surveillance attention in paranoid America. You see, terror existed before America’s Sept. 11, 2001. Just ask Britain. We should be able to use the word when it applies to a variety of situations. But after 9-11, the semantic gods yielded control of the term to western governments.

Here is Merriam-Webster’s definition:


ter·ror
noun \ˈter-ər, ˈte-rər\

1:  a state of intense fear
2 a :  one that inspires fear :  scourge b :  a frightening aspect c :  a cause of anxiety :  worry d :  an appalling person or thing; especially :  brat
3:  reign of terror
4:  violent or destructive acts (as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands

Origin of TERROR
Middle English, from Anglo-French terrour, from Latin terror, from terrēre to frighten; akin to Greek trein to be afraid, flee, tremein to tremble First Known Use: 14th century

Thus, a practitioner of terror, the terrorist, is a person who deliberately instills fear and anxiety in others in an intimidating fashion. Isn’t that what a workplace bully does when she or he abuses others? From fear comes paralysis. Shocked and paralyzed targets and witnesses do not respond to aggression with aggression.

Look at the fourth term in the above definition. The goal of intimidation is have “a population or government,” proxies for organizations, grant the bully’s demands. Bullies get their way with their employers. Perpetrators are rarely punished. They abuse others with impunity, rarely facing consequences. American employers do next to nothing to stop bullies while innocent guileless targets lose their jobs, livelihoods and sanity at alarming rates.

Logically, workplace bullies are terrorists within organizations. They are organizational terrorists. Their actions fit the definition. We simply are applying a label appropriately.

Bullying is not simply eye rolling as bully apologists like to characterize it. It is workplace violence, albeit a non-physical form. It is a mistake to underestimate the effects verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, humiliation and domination have on human beings.

History is on our side. The founder of the international movement in Sweden, Heinz Leymann, titled one of his early English-language journal articles — “Mobbing and Psychological Terror at Workplaces.” Of course, he chose the term mobbing to connote the interpersonal destruction of workplace victims by multiple perpetrators. To assess the extent to which a target was harmed, he developed his own instrument, the LIPT, the Leymann Interpersonal Psychological Terrorization scale. Leymann minced no words. He died in 1999 before other nations followed America’s descent into paranoia about terrorism. I wonder how close he was to naming the phenomenon we know today as bullying, terrorization.

When Dr. Ruth and I made the commitment to begin the work which evolved into the Workplace Bullying Institute back in 1996-97, we had a choice of two reasonable terms. Mobbing was the Scandinavian and European term. Workplace Bullying was the British term. We deliberately chose to import “workplace bullying” for a variety of reasons. We originally did discuss “terrorization,” but felt it would be considered too radical to be accepted by American media. A short four years later, Sept 11 happened. The movement would have been stopped in its tracks for adopting anything related to “terror.”

Looking back after more than 17 years, in the spirit of realistically naming the destructive force that workplace bullying is, I now see “terrorization” as an entirely appropriate synonym to add to the list of acceptable terms. Invoking Leymann’s courage to call it what it is, bullying is terrorism.

Which employers will launch a “war” against it within their walls? Call us. We’ll help you do it right.

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Posted in Commentary by G. Namie, The New America, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education | 1 Archived Comment | Post A Comment () »



It takes all of us to stop workplace bullying. What you can do for Freedom Week.

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

Workplace bullying is a complex phenomenon because it is systemic with the majority of causes dwelling in the work environment, organizational culture. It is much more than personalities of targets and perpetrators. Thus, to stop it, we all need to pressure employers to stop running on autopilot and allowing bullying to happen as a normal routine way of doing business.

Here are WBI’s suggested actions for each of us in different roles and professions to pressure employers to reign in their out-of-control miscreants, to stop rewarding the misconduct, and to establish a positive workplace culture free of abusive conduct for the future.

Bullied Targets/Individuals
Family & Friends
Co-Workers and Witnesses
Unions
Medical Professionals
Employers/Executives
Mental Health Professionals
School Administrators
Community Leaders
State Legislators

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WBI Survey: Reversing Emotional Abuse

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

REVERSING EMOTIONAL ABUSE
WBI Research/Instant Poll: 2014 – D

WBI credits friend and researcher Loraleigh Keashly for coining the term Emotional Abuse at Work as synonym for workplace bullying. Her 1998 review of the then-current scientific literature was aptly titled. Bullying always impacts the targeted person’s emotional state. The effect is always negative, not positive. In most cases, individuals are either happy or emotionally neutral at work, content to do their jobs. Bullying comes unannounced and uninvited. It compels immediate attention. All of one’s cognitive resources are deployed to cope with the psychological assault.

In worst cases, there is trauma that must be dealt with. In all cases, the target is stigmatized and social relations with coworkers strained. At the very least, the onset of bullying is a sad event. The once neutral or happy person is forced into negativity. At the outset, attempts to think “happy, positive thoughts” are overwhelmed by the negative reality imposed by the abuser.

Bullying triggers distress, the human stress response in reaction to the bully’s tactics, the stressors. If left unabated, prolonged distress leads to stress-related diseases, all sorts of health complications.

The most effective stress mitigation factor is social support. Validating human support can reverse the deleterious effects of emotional abuse. Isolation exacerbates the distress. Sometimes learning about the first-time experience can alleviate distress. After all, bullying is rather ambiguous when first experienced.

WBI research (WBI IP 2013-H) found that for 33% of bullied targets, their bullying at work was the first abuse ever experienced in their lives. Those people will take the longest to recognize Only 19% were bullied in school; they may or may not recognize the bullying happening to them at work because they might have expected bullying to have ended with school ending. Sadly, 44% of targets have a prior history with abuse from family experiences. Prior history alone does not guarantee instant recognition and labeling of the emotional abuse happening to them, but their visceral reactions become cues to recognition. They have “been there before” with respect to the emotional negativity; they have known fear, apprehension and anxiety.

WBI Instant Polls are online single-question surveys that rely upon self-selected samples of individuals bullied at work (typically 98% of any sample). No demographic data are collected. Our non-scientific Instant Polls accurately depict the perceptions of workers targeted for bullying at work as contrasted with the views of all adult Americans in our scientific national surveys.

For this survey, we asked 820 respondents (bullied targets and witnesses) to describe sources of positivity for bullied targets shrouded in negative emotions.

Question: As a bullied target, who made you feel better, changed your negative emotions to positive or at least less negative?
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Posted in Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education, WBI Surveys & Studies | 1 Archived Comment | Post A Comment () »



Shop & support the Workplace Bullying Institute

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

People who benefit from the advice found at this WBI website or in our books or on the WBI YouTube channel, or from the WBI videos designed to help bullied individuals can now help WBI.

GR Northwest is our online shopping site. A small portion of the sales goes to WBI.

We start with seasonal offerings — Halloween and Christmas.

Tell us what you normally purchase online and we will attempt to make those items available so you can support WBI simply by making your routine online purchases.

Dash off an email to

ideas at grnorthwest.com so we can try to acquire those items for you.

Thank you for your continued support.

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Posted in Hear Ye! Hear Ye! 2 | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



WBI Survey: The Many Ways Workplace Bullying Offends Its Targets

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

THE MANY WAYS WORKPLACE BULLYING OFFENDS ITS TARGETS
WBI Research/Instant Poll: 2014 – C

At WBI we teach extensively about the health risks of bullying for its victims, the bullied targets. Health risks are documented in the extant research literature and in the collection of prior WBI studies. We have also explored perceived injustices associated with bullying.

Harassment is considered “offensive” mistreatment. Offensiveness is subjective. What offends one person might not adversely affect others. However, when people are hurt, upset or angry over the behaviors by another person specifically directed at them, they have the right to claim to be offended.

At the very least, bullying is offensive. It is also demeaning, ostracizing, disempowering, cruel, threatening, humiliating, untruthful, and unrelated to work itself.

WBI Instant Polls are online single-question surveys that rely upon self-selected samples of individuals bullied at work (typically 98% of any sample). No demographic data are collected. Our non-scientific Instant Polls accurately depict the perceptions of workers targeted for bullying at work as contrasted with the views of all adult Americans in our scientific national surveys.

For this survey, we asked 1,031 respondents (bullied targets and witnesses) to describe the five most offensive aspects of the bullying experience.

Question: As a bullied target, what aspect of the bullying offended you the most? Check the top 5.

There were a total of 4,588 choices made by the 1,031 respondents. The top 6 from the list of 17 choices appears in the graph. We plotted the actual number of respondents who chose each item. The proportions based on the 1,031 respondents are shown in parentheses. Though respondents were allowed up to five choices, numbers 5 and 6 were virtually tied in rank, so both are shown.

Being accused of incompetence when I possessed more technical skills than my accuser 580 (.568)
Being humiliated in front of coworkers 493 (.483)
Feeling ashamed though I did nothing wrong 432 (.423)
Management ignoring my complaint 426 (.417)
Having coworkers ostracize, exclude & reject me 370 (.362)
Retaliation that followed my complaint 368 (.360)

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Posted in Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education, WBI Surveys & Studies | 3 Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



Advice for bullied targets from a veteran of being bullied

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

I’ve endured a nasty work environment for a very long time. It’s been hard and opened my eyes to the reality that way too many people are walking around with sore egos underneath fake smiles. The self talk going on has got to be self-pitying to an extreme in order for these sick minds to rationalize away their behavior. Be sure there’s a lot of deeply angry insecure people wearing “look normal” masks out there. And when these miserable characters find each other, their conduct turns manic. Like a perfect storm of lunacy. They lose perspective even more, become further delusional, and wage career wars against do-gooder law-abiding ethical people. Nevermind that there are pedophiles, terrorists, and murderers walking the planet. Nope. Not important. Their priority is taking out those who probably deserve a thank you.

At the end of the day, if you’re going to make it through something like this with self-esteem intact (job or no job afterward), you HAVE TO remember the truths about yourself that the sore egos would like you and anyone else to forget. You have to remind yourself everyday who you in fact are and the principles that you stand for. Your self-talk needs to be more profound and more frequent than the magnitude of the vileness and obstacles they’ll keep trying to put in your way.

Resist the urge to concern yourself about what others will perceive regarding you or your reputation. You can’t control people. I have found that folks think what they want to think and I’m certain this goes beyond my experiences and is probably just a universal truth. If someone wants to think less of you because it makes them feel better, they will. And they are going to. ANY old excuse, true or false, will do. Proof is absolutely not required. And if someone is self-content, he or she is not going to waste time or thought to joining the smear campaign. Yes there can definitely be negative consequences that result from damage to your reputation, but at the end of the day, oddly, your reputation really has little to do with you and much much more to do with others’ subjective and often fallible interpretation.

There is no easy way through something like this. You already know how sympathetic employers aren’t to this and so you’ll likely be the only one in your corner AND be outnumbered. So remembering who you are in the midst of evil people, knowing what is right, and acknowledging what are truths are all the “support” you’re going to receive. And you’re going to need all you can get. And know through and through that you’re not the only person out there this is happening to. There are many people enduring this at the very same moment you are.

– Jen

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Posted in Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education | 4 Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



WBI Survey: Personal Attributes of Bullied Targets at Work

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES OF BULLIED TARGETS AT WORK
WBI Research/Instant Poll: 2014 – A

Since the start of WBI, we have been conversing with bullied targets who telephone us for advice. Over 10,000 targets have taught us their world from the inside. Previously WBI identified in an online study (WBI, 2003) a set of personal attributes that targets themselves said was the reason they were bullied. That list included being independent, possessing more technical skill than their bully, being liked by peers, an ethicality and honesty the bully did not have and being apolitical — not willing or able to play the game of organizational politics.

Some academic researchers, especially those in business schools who tend to adopt management as their referential lens through which they interpret bullying, investigate factors such as “victim precipitation” or the “provocative victim.” In other words, attributes of targets are seen as causal; it’s a way to blame targets for their fate. It implies that a rational person, when confronted with such provocateurs, would engage in anti-social actions against them because they somehow “deserved it.”

Clearly, no one deserves to be abused and suffer the type of health harm bullying generates. On this all good people should be able to agree.

WBI Instant Polls are online single-question surveys that rely upon self-selected samples of individuals bullied at work (typically 98% of any sample). No demographic data are collected. Our non-scientific Instant Polls accurately depict the perceptions of workers targeted for bullying at work as contrasted with the views of all adult Americans in our scientific national surveys.

(more…)

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Posted in Bullying-Related Research, Social/Mgmt/Epid Sciences, WBI Surveys & Studies | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



WBI Workplace Bullying education events in August

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Workplace Bullying University® For professionals — healthcare, HR, unions, legal, mental health, trainers & consultants, individuals making a career transition — the only comprehensive preparation in the nuanced workplace bullying phenomenon. Includes all education materials needed to launch an organization’s anti-bullying initiative, an extensive Research Library, and hours of supplementary resources. Faculty: Drs. Gary & Ruth Namie.

3 days: August 15-17 in Bellingham, WA
Tuition is $3,100
Special: mention “BLOG” for a $500 discount on/before July 25.
Call 360-656-6630

Said a veteran HR director, “Definitely the most value-added program to organizational development I have attended in my 30-plus years in the business.”


Workplace Bullying Retreat For bullied individuals and those who support them. A day of validation, learning and restoration. Bring along a loved one or coworker. Includes a copy of The Bully At Work. Facilitated by Drs. Gary & Ruth Namie.

1 day: Sat. August 23 in Bellingham, WA
Tuition: $250, $100 for second person.
Special: mention “BLOG” for $50 discount on/before Aug. 1
Call 360-656-6630

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Posted in Hear Ye! Hear Ye! 2, Products & Services, WBI Education, Workplace Bullying University | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



When your past bully is your job reference

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Bullied targets need to work to live after leaving the job where they were bullied. As if recovering is not a large or difficult enough task, getting the next job will require offering references attesting to your skills. No matter how well you pick references, the next employer will reflexively find the name of your last boss even if not on the list you provide.

It’s as if you cannot be believed, but because she or he was your boss, that person is credible to the next boss. Yikes. What if that boss was your bully? Best to find out what is being said about you. Too bad, we are not yet at the stage in the U.S. where everyone recognizes that being bullied had nothing to do with the person targeted.

So, find out what that idiot is saying about you. Use the reference checker we have recommended for years — Allison & Taylor of Rochester, NY. Here’s a short clip by the company rep explaining how willing bad bosses are to give negative, job-killing references.

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