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Welcome to the Mobbing & Bullying Nova Scotia web site

    Mobbing can be understood as the stressor to beat all stressors. It is an impassioned, collective campaign by coworkers to exclude, punish, and humiliate a targeted worker. Initiated most often by a person in a position of power or influence, mobbing is a desperate urge to crush and eliminate the target. The urge travels through the workplace like a virus, infecting one person after another. The target comes to be viewed as absolutely abhorrent, with no redeeming qualities, outside the circle of acceptance and respectability, deserving only of contempt. As the campaign proceeds, a steadily larger range of hostile ploys and communications comes to be seen as legitimate.

Kenneth Westhues
University of Waterloo

    Hi, My name is Stephen Bruce O'Handley. I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  I am here to talk about a subtle workplace phenomena that is hurting workers everywhere- Mobbing

Workplace bullying, ganging up, hostile work environment, emotional abuse, psychological violence, head hunting, lynch mob, non sexual or racial harassment, ostracizing, character assassinating, professional jealousy, witch hunting, scapegoating

These are all terms used to describe- Mobbing

    Mobbing has been recognized and studied in Europe for many years but unfortunately, here in North America, we are behind the times. Most people have a general self perceived concept of what mobbing is and many may have been witness to it, but unable to recognize the process and the demential effects that pursue. The purpose in creating this web site is to both inform people about mobbing and to offer my help to any one who needs it.   

What is Mobbing?
    Mobbing can be compared to a "lynch mob" in that it's participants act in a mindless frenzy-like state and become united for the purpose of removing a common "threat". Despite many organizations having zero tolerance policies regarding abusive behaviour of any sort, hostile behaviour has not disappeared, but rather become more surreptitious. This "passive aggressive" behaviour can manifest itself in many unseen or heard ways such as; one consistently getting the silent treatment, being excluded, subjugated, overruled,  having malicious rumors spread, being judged more harshly, getting singled out, trivial mistakes overblown,  getting labeled and stigmatized. The list goes on and on....

    Mobbing is all about power and control over someone and manifests itself through pecking orders and the social hierachary. Pecking orders in chickens occur when all the chickens in the coop peck at a targeted chicken, keeping it away from food and water. Eventually the chicken dies. Like mobbing, it is not the individual "peck",  but the cumulative effect of all them that destroys the individual. It is so subtle and gradual that many don't even notice, others choose not to.     
    Denial about the true situation exists from most people involved. The victim does not want to complain and will often try to remedy things themselves. The boss/organization involved are often too ignorant or distant to the situation to fully grasp the happenings, and of course the bully will deny involvement and will blame the victim for not fitting in well.  This course only facilitates the goal of mobbing, which is to force the target out.  One way or another this ruthless process will take its course. First the target is controlled with a series of hostile acts, and an elimination mode is evoked when the affected person begins to assert their right not to be treated this way. It truly is the "unwritten way to unload someone".

The workplace monkeys

    If the mobbers cannot make one quit, they will try make the targets performance deteriorate and based on that try and get them terminated. As time progresses the target becomes so miserable and unhappy that targets fall into the final trap (known as the mental health trap)  the targets are labeled mentally ill or antisocial.  The victim's behavior has now changed enough for others to see that something is not right and they will often go along with the label.

    As was researched and discovered by the Late Dr. Heinz Leymann,(The Mobbing Encyclopedia), there is a five stage process that occurs when Mobbing begins. Once in full swing this process is very difficult, if not impossible, to stop.

Stage 1
    Begins with an unresolved conflict or a critical incident. Usually the target is an above average employee with a vulnerability that can be exploited. This often stems from jealousy, the need to scapegoat or to deflect blame, or simply because it builds social cohesion in divisive and dysfunctional groups. This stage is very early in the mobbing process, and may not go any further in developing to mobbing.

Stage 2
    Here is where the assaults begin to take place. There are different tactics that are utilized and this is when the process begins to pick up steam. Here a ring leader and allies will not only add fuel to the fire, but sabotage any resolution of the conflict to ensue that the lynching will run its course. They will counter and dismiss all attempts at resolving the conflict and when the outrage seems to be quieting will rejuvenate the topic by taking it into another direction.

Stage 3
    This is the stage where management begins to play a role. This is the first step in the elimination process. Managers often misinterpret the situation, and blame falls onto the victim. Supervisors simply don't want to believe that their employees are capable of this kind of behaviour. With the targets now discredited and stigmatized any defense they make is disregarded. With "reality" now distorted, their individual word will not be taken over a group's. There truly is strength in numbers.

Stage 4
    This is where the process meets a critical stage where the target is labeled mentally ill or antisocial. By this time the target has become frustrated, withdrawn and unhappy while coworkers maliciously contort this into mental illness. The target is highly suspicious of others, which is well founded,  and targets are further discredited by being labeled paranoid. Counciling at this point is mostly ineffective, as it does little to relieve the toxicity of the work environment. Unfortunately, many psychologists are ignorant or untrained  in mobbing and its devastating effects and will often attribute this to permanent mental conditions and personality flaws that were "always there". Nobody sees that this is a "normal reaction to an abnormal situation".
    If the target begins to fight back, they are labeled the aggressors. When the target is excluded, withdrawn and seeks solace, they are the ones who are introverted. The mob will put the target in the compromised position, and will attack them for being there.  As in any abusive situation, victim blaming is always the aggressors way of abdicating responsibility.

Stage 5
    This is expulsion process. By this time the target is mentally and physically drained, and has difficulty mustering the resources to provide an adequate defense. Often times there is little due process in the removal of a target and they have little chance of succeeding. Management being human as well will take the course of least resistance, they are more concerned about making the problem go away than getting to the root of the problem- bully/mob behaviour. It is easier to remove one target than it is to deal with a gang of bullies.
      After the expulsion, the target is emotionally devastated and can often show signs of Post-Traumatic stress disorder. With their professional reputation destroyed, nobody else wants to hire them. Their lives are all but ruined...

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