Posts Tagged ‘Mobbing’

Let’s Talk with Kalola: Attorney Bullies

Friday, November 27th, 2015

Seek advice for your dilemma. Write to Kalola.

Dear Kalola:

I was a legal assistant with a well-respected legal organization for a little over four years. The bullying occurred primarily in the last three years and very intensively in the lastnine months. I was let go during the summer.

I was treated by the lead attorney and staff attorneys as if I was inferior. Although everyone in that office made mistakes, mine were the only mistakes that were brought to light. Each small mistake was blown into a huge mistake and was used to threaten my job. Sometimes I found out I wasn’t even the one who made the mistake.

My co-workerswere very clique-ish and juvenile. There were many whispered conversations behind closed doors. I was definitely not included in that clique and was isolated psychologically and physically. I was told not to talk about my family, while everyone else in the office was free to talk at length about theirs.

I was treated rudely by the supervisor and all my co-workers (five total). They told me I asked too many questions. I have worked in the legal field for over 18 years and have never worked with any attorneys who did not want to communicate with their support staff. Also, I was asking questions because the tasks were often poorly written, hard to understand, and incomplete. They refused to look at my Outlook tasks to see how my workload was before they assigned a large task claiming that they were too busy.

In the end, I believe that two of the attorneys were trying to get me to lose my temper and/or quit my job. One would assign me tasks, complete them herself, and then “forget” to tell me, wasting a lot of my time while I was already under pressure. Another would show up in my office several times a day and chastise me for some small error (that I may or may not have made) or yell at me for some small problem and then turn on her heel and leave my office before I could respond. I was treated differently in that it was a huge deal if I used any vacation or sick leave, while everyone else in the office called in sick leave weekly for any little ailment and were often paid for hours they were not actually working. I think this was behind the bullying. I got the feeling they thought I was going to expose them, which I had not planned to do.

I tried to talk about the problems I was having with the supervisor, but eventually stopped when the conclusion to each conversation was everything ended up as my fault. I was thinking about going to the HR department when I was terminated. I was also starting to think about looking for another job. The official reason was that I “made too many mistakes”. When I asked what those mistakes were, I was told “I don’t want to argue with you.”

The termination was very cold and impersonal. A few days later I received a termination letter (with typos) that still did not tell me what these mistakes were. To this day I do not know what these mistakes were, how they effected the office or client, or even find out if I did make the mistake.

My termination came as a huge shock to me. Although I was unhappy, I thought if I just did my best they couldn’t get rid of me. And I needed the income. The first few weeks after being terminated were really rough mentally and physically. I isolated myself in self-doubt and depression. In the first few days I called the crisis line but there was only so much they could do. I was smoking way too much and having trouble eating. I’ve lost about 15 pounds. My stress level made it hard to sleep and I’ve increased my over the counter sleep aid. I was terrified at first to interview because of my damaged self-confidence and trying to figure out how to tactfully tell potential employers “why” I lost my last job. I’ve used the resources at Worksource to get some questions answered and help brush up on my job search skills.

I see now that I was much more stressed and angry in my last job than I thought. I’m nicer now to family, friends, and strangers hat I know I am not bullied anymore. I spent the last three years being short-tempered after a long day of being treated rudely and walking on egg shells. I know my family and friends can see a difference in me now that I’m getting back on my feet.

I believe I lost my job due to office bullying. I never believed in the term before, but I now know how real and damaging it is. If I would have done anything different, it would to realize that office bullying does exist and acted differently (document abuse situations, look for a new job). Thanks to the support of family and friends, I’m doing better. Instead of waking up each morning in terror of “what am I going to do?” I wake up grateful that I’m not a target anymore. I haven’t landed on a new job yet, but I have lots of good experience, a lot of job applications out there, apply for everything I can and have been on several interviews. In fact while writing this I received an email scheduling a promising interview tomorrow morning. I know I have the chance to work in a happier, more respectful work environment. I deserve to be happy again.

If I could say anything to another abused worker, it would be to realize office bullying is real. Research it and be prepared to deal
with it if it happens to you. If it ends with a brutal termination, as it did with me, give yourself a little time to take care of yourself. Eat, breathe, sleep, and understand how important the healing process is. Reach out to friends and family, but realize not everyone will be able to be there all the time. Don’t get stuck – get moving on your job hunt and build back your confidence. The best revenge is to move on to something better with your head held high.

I was impressed to find the Workplace Bullying Institute website. It gave me hope that I’m not crazy and this problem truly exists. I am excited to see that there is an interest in proposing legislation that will address this problem. Targets should have some recourse in office bullying.

West Coast Worker


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Another name for societal reaction to workplace bullying: Stockholm bias

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Stockholm Bias: It’s Not Quite Stockholm Syndrome, But It Affects All of Us
By Eyal Winter, em>Forbes, April 8, 2015

Winter is Professor of Economics, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

My father, Hans Winter, was a Jewish kid in pre-Nazi Germany who ran for his life to Palestine a year after Hitler took power. Until his last day, he considered the word Nazi to be synonymous with ultimate evil, yet when I asked him about his schoolteachers during that period he would be overcome with nostalgia and romanticism. When pressed, he would admit that most of his teachers supported the Nazi party, and would even describe the parades they organized and the Nazi songs he was forced to sing along with the rest of the class, even before Hitler took power. When noticing my astonishment, he often argued, “Yes, they were Nazis, but they treated me well.” My father was not comfortable talking about it, and he appeared quite embarrassed as he wiped the small tear that ran slowly down his cheek. I believe he was affected by what I call Stockholm bias, a mild version of the better-known Stockholm syndrome.
On August 23, 1973, a group of burglars entered and commandeered a Kreditbanken bank branch in Norrmalmstorg Square in Stockholm. Over the next five days, several bank employees were held hostage in a vault by the burglars, who eventually surrendered to the authorities. What happened next was very peculiar. Most of the bank employees who had undergone the nightmare of captivity expressed support and sympathy for the hostage takers in press interviews. Some even offered to serve as character witnesses for the defense in the subsequent trial. The event prompted psychologists and psychiatrists to identify a new psychological phenomenon they called Stockholm syndrome.



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Massachusetts joins 2015-16 legislative fight to enact the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

Mass. State Rep. Ellen Story, a staunch ally of the anti-abuse campaign for the workplace, has introduced the Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB) for the 2015-16 legislative session. Rep. Story has been involved since 2004! Her latest contribution is House bill H 1771. This is the full version of the bill that carries employer liability for enabling and maintaining a toxic work environment in which employees can be subjected to health-harming abusive conduct.

Mass. joins New York State as the only two states with current bills that hold employers accountable for the psychological safety of the work environment. Of course, the HWB grants good employers an escape from vicarious liability when they voluntarily take steps to prevent and correct abusive conduct. But toothless bills gutted by the state chambers of commerce (and others in the business lobby) share one common element — no employer liability.

The very effective WBI affiliate MA Healthy Workplace Advocates were able to secure 57 co-sponsors. In years past, the group, working in concert with organized labor, NAGE, orchestrated successful committee hearings. Perhaps this year after another hearing, H 1771 can move to a floor vote and beyond … to the Governor’s desk.

We salute our Massachusetts volunteer State Coordinators and Citizen Lobbyists. Stay tuned.

You can track H 1771’s progress at the MA State Page of the HWB website.


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Announcing the U.S. Academy on Workplace Bullying, Mobbing, and Abuse

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

U.S. Academy on Workplace Bullying, Mobbing and Abuse

The Workplace Bullying Institute and the New Workplace Institute are happy to announce the launch of a joint initiative, the U.S. Academy on Workplace Bullying, Mobbing, and Abuse, which will support and promote the multi-disciplinary work of leading and emerging educators, researchers, practitioners, writers, and advocates who are dedicated to understanding, preventing, stopping, and responding to workplace bullying and related forms of interpersonal mistreatment.

“For over a year, we’ve been contemplating how to bring together an American network of leading and emerging experts on workplace bullying and related topics. The Academy is our conduit for doing so. We look forward to highlighting the good works of these incredible people,” says David Yamada, Suffolk University law professor and New Workplace Institute director.

The Academy has over 50 Fellows including leading psychological researchers, physicians, attorneys, occupational health experts, professors of management, nursing, and communications, counselors, union trainers, military leaders, advocates, and consultants. The complete list of Fellows can be seen at

“When we started WBI there was one trade unionist and a couple of academic researchers with the courage to focus on workplace bullying. Since then the field exploded exponentially,” says Gary Namie, PhD, Co-founder of the Workplace Bullying Institute, established in 1997. “We recognize the universality of these destructive behaviors, and this network focuses on the unique challenges posed by American employee relations, mental health, and legal systems.”


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Posted in Bullying-Related Research, Good News, Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Hear Ye! Hear Ye! 2, Products & Services, Social/Mgmt/Epid Sciences, Tutorials About Bullying, Unions, WBI Education | 1 Archived Comment | Post A Comment () »

The second great new workplace bullying book in time for Christmas 2013

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Overcoming Mobbing
A Recovery Guide for
Workplace Aggression
and Bullying

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.

Buy this book (along with the Lutgen-Sandvik book and, if they don’t own it yet, our book, The Bully At Work) for those who need it most this Christmas season. They will be forever grateful.


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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 () »

Lutgen-Sandvik writes great workplace bullying book in time for Christmas 2013

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Adult Bullying
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.

Here’s why.

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.


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WBI Workplace Bullying Research — List of 33 studies by topic

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

The Topics Investigated by WBI
Workplace Bullying Research

WBI’s research complements the books, websites designed to help afflicted targets and their families, individualized support we give targets and Workplace Bullying University® for which research — ours and hundreds of others — is the foundation.

Below is the WBI set of 33 studies, arranged by topic, exploring most aspects of the workplace bullying phenomenon primarily from the perspectives of targeted individuals, conducted since the year 2000.

Use links to access all study synopses & downloadable reports.



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Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Unions, WBI Education, WBI Surveys & Studies, Workplace Bullying Laws | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »

WBI Survey: Rank & Numbers of Perpetrators of Workplace Bullying

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

WBI Research: 2012 – H Instant Poll

Workplace Bullying Institute 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.

In the eighth IP of 2012, 81% of the 806 respondents declared that a boss (higher-ranking person than the target) was involved than bullying.



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Mobbing or Bullying in the Workplace: Preventable Misery by Any Name

Friday, October 12th, 2012

The founder of the international movement was Heinz Leymann. He dubbed the phenomenon “mobbing.” We imported the British term, “workplace bullying,” which followed Leymann’s work by a few years. The authoritative account of Leymann’s contributions can be found in Ken Westhues’ incomparable mobbing portal website. See his tribute to Leymann.

Westhues writes:

In the workplace, a mob consists of ordinary workers who, after deeming an individual worker a threat, collectively attack the perceived enemy. Like birds, the individual workers harm the target by collective and relentless small jabs. The mob of workers can be understood as an entity in and of itself. Once it is formed, it takes on a life of its own, even when members may question the benefit of continuing to punish the target. As an aggressive force, a mob is very different from the”toxic worker” described in bullying literature. The toxic worker is understood as an aggressive individual who willfully attacks innocent others. By contrast, the mob is a collection of ordinary workers who collectively demonize an individual and destroy him or her.



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Highly Recommended Book on Mobbing & Workplace Bullying

Friday, February 17th, 2012

As a vocal proponent of the term “workplace bullying,” in my opinion only three individuals speak eloquently and authoritatively on “mobbing,” the original term adopted by Heinz Leymann at the movement’s birth. They are Ken Westhues, Len Sperry and Maureen Duffy.

Westhues wrote the Foreword to this new 2012 Oxford University Press book — Mobbing: Causes, Consequences and Solutions — by Duffy and Sperry. So, between the covers of a remarkable book, is found an incomparable compilation of research, clinical and practical information.

I stand by my comment for the book’s cover. “A fantastic, mesmerizing encyclopedic narrative jammed between two covers touching on every aspect of the phenomenon of mobbing like no other single volume in the literature. The authors clearly have been in the trenches helping abused workers. Their advice is spot on and keenly oriented toward improving the individual victim’s health and recovery from the mobbing assaults.”



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