The Costs of Mobbing – From One Who Knows
On this auspicious day, I reflect on where I have come since I was unceremoniously released from my career trajectory over a decade ago. I look at the myriad failures and some meager successes that I have come to amass in that time. And I wonder if anyone in that scenario would do anything differently had they had the wisdom and foresight to know then what they know now.
My jaded and cynical response given the current situation in the Force is “not bloody likely.” Mobbing takes a hell of a toll on its victims. Studies by Leymann and others have indicated that many mobbing victims often never return to work or have difficulty retaining employment. As one who suffers from this, I can tell you firsthand that it changes your whole perspective on your job, your performance and abilities, not to mention your self-worth.
Personality changes are often persistent with mobbing victims. To say that we hold a deep sense of paranoia and fear would be pretty accurate. I spend a lot of time waiting for the other shoe to drop because that is what mobbing has taught me: no matter how well you do or how suited to your job you are, if someone wants you gone, you’re gone. It’s a pretty sick thought to live with. And speaking of sick, mobbing victims likely spend a lot of time in therapy and on meds. They’ll suffer from adjustment disorders, can be diagnosed with everything from severe clinical depression to PTSD and a host of other co-morbid somatic issues. You’ll have to avoid things that will trigger memories or episodes, which in many cases may play out as avoidance of places, people and even common things that one cannot avoid in a workplace such as conflict. Yes, the way you deal with conflict will likely change. The most common poses that I have seen from people are turtle (you simply avoid, cover up and suffer quietly through it) or dragon (lashing out and becoming defensive or even hostile). Neither are very becoming in the workplace.
And then, of course, comes the issue of finding new work if the old job is lost for those who have escaped, you will know this well. Your issues now become the issues of your new employer. It is they who will bear the costs for your mental health issues caused by colleagues and superiors in your former employ. The more time you take, the greater risk you become to them as well, both in lost time and in resource costs to cover treatments, prescriptions, etc. and finding someone who understands your plight, may be difficult. Or, it may open you up to scrutiny. So, be very careful what you share and with whom.
Some folks who have had the extreme may go to the extreme: substance abuse or other addictions (sex is a common one for folks who have been mobbed, I find). Heinz Leymann found that 15% of suicides in Sweden could be attributed to mobbing. If the pressure ever gets that far, you know that you have reached a point of no return. Been there, done that. And, know that if you get there, you have played into their hands yet again, and you have ruined your chances of ever returning to a position of responsibility or authority such as policing.
These are but some of the costs borne to the targets of mobbing. They are the ones that will hit you where it hurts: being a productive and valued member of society. The costs to family and friends are great as well. They will suffer alongside of you. Thus the direct pain that this causes now expands out in a web-like fashion. And those are much harder to repair for many reasons.
And what cost is there to the employer? Or is there one? In my view, there certainly is. First off, there’s the one the Force is facing now: they are viewed as a toxic place to work. And no one in their right mind wants to go work in a toxic, unsafe environment. As for those that ARE there, evidence can now be seen as to what cliques and groups can do to punish people they do not like or do not think are worthy to participate. Upstanders, or those who support the target, may be punished and targeted in turn. The culture of fear and intimidation continues. Consider the irony of the joke phrase that adorned t-shirts a decade ago,” the beatings will continue until moral improves”. This is the Force’s approach, more or less.
Aside from the toxic culture, there’s the cost of lost human resources, lost experience and – more accurately - lost potential. The people who are targeted are usually the high achievers or those who with the wherewithal to move things and people forward. Their personality and ability are what make them targets most often. The more they shine or try to prove their worth, the harder they will be beaten down. Think of where the force would be without some of its current problem children. Think also where it would be with more folks like the ones trying to solve the problems, fight the good fight and play by the rules. I’d say the Force may be in a better place if these folks were (for lack of a better word) protected in the workplace rather than shunned.
Is there a cost to the bully? There likely is, but from what I have seen, that cost is absorbed by others around them or by the organization itself. They are promoted out of harm’s way or the wagons are circled around them to protect them from the “accuser.” From any research I have read, unless these folks are punished or terminated by their employer, they will quite often stick with the organization and remain there because it is “safe” for them to do so. After all, no one bullies the bully.
Is there hope for all this? Well, many of you are lucky enough to be able to sue the Force for harassment. And I do hope you get every possible penny from them for suffering and lost job opportunities. If you’re not talking to someone, you should be. Clergy, psychologist, psychiatrist, lawyer, family friend - somebody.
And the sooner the better.
If you are suffering from severe depression or PTSD, the longer you wait for diagnosis and treatment the worse it becomes and the deeper-entrenched the problem becomes. Reach out to the communities of those who suffer as you do. Sadly, mobbing is a bigger problem today than we would want. But it works to your benefit ? You’ll find a community of people who understand what you are going through far better than you would joining a PTSD group for combat vets or rape survivors. And if you know someone who is in your situation, reach out to them. More often than not, people like us will tend to isolate and be untrusting of others.
The pain, anger and agony you feel may not ever go away completely, but it can get better. Mourn your losses, count your blessings. And keep fighting and moving foward.
From → Mobbing