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The Second Degree

©2019 Gail Pursell Elliott

Second Degree Mobbing is like a second degree burn which creates a blister, is painful, and takes some time for recovery. When working on cases with this level of mobbing targets describe similar symptoms to those impacted by Third Degree mobbing, but they are not permanently disabled or unable to return to a work environment. They describe having flashbacks, anxiety, extreme anger, sadness, hyper-vigilance. One person described thinking of getting another job in the same field as feeling like screaming and running from the room.

Second Degree can be extreme and cause major difficulties but can be overcome depending upon the individual as well as the kind of support that is given. In one case, the target left the organization and got a position at another company. Someone at the new company approached HR with information about the target from the previous organization and was immediately shut down with, “we know about that and it makes no difference here. Do not repeat these statements to anyone.” This is the kind of HR department that can make a huge difference to a target who has had the courage to move on with his/her career. It is critical not only for the target, but also for intercepting mobbing before it begins, whether with that person or any other in the company.

This same approach can be used within the very organization in which the mobbing happened. That is, if the company has taken steps to ensure that the behavior is not acceptable and is able to relocate the target to a different environment with supports in place to rehabilitate the person. One target experienced this at a very large organization and was coping but not very well. When I saw her, she was subdued and sad, though still working. This is not rehabilitation but an effort to avoid litigation and is spirit-killing. If something like this is implemented it should emphasize the value of the individual and validate the person’s worth and work, rather than finding a spot away from the offenders who are still doing their dirty work perhaps on others.

Some second-degree targets may solve their dilemma by becoming entrepreneurs. Self-employment is a viable alternative for some.  For others, this option is a desperation move and for still others not feasible.  Just because the target finds other employment or goes on with life by returning to university for an advance degree or some other option does not mean that life has not changed dramatically for the individual. It does not mean that the company is not without responsibility for the lack of consequence or recourse. Employees are human beings, not objects or resources to be used up and discarded.

A recent case of mobbing/bullying based on race, described in the news on January 17th, happened to two supervisors at a GM plant in Ohio. According to the story, after over a year of behavior beyond being unsettling, such as bathrooms scrawled with “whites only” graffiti to nooses hung in work areas to veiled threats involving guns, the supervisors both left. They were well qualified, making excellent money and had grown in their field as a result.  One is now working elsewhere at a significantly lower salary while the other has returned to school to work on a Ph.D.  Two careers derailed by the inability or unwillingness of the company to curtail the behavior of employees who believe they are running the place rather than the company.

In cases of Second-Degree abuse, targets will go through the normal channels to get assistance and find that it is not forthcoming.  It can be through their superior, through HR, through the union if there is one, through upper management and all without action.  Sometimes the target will be told to handle it themselves which is preposterous.  Sometimes the target will be flatly ignored with no response. Some accumulate huge notebooks of documentation which are never addressed. Is it any wonder that some targets take years to recover? Second Degree mobbing leaves permanent scars.

In all cases, policies and laws do not change attitudes.  What they do is limit behavior and in today’s world it seems that limiting behavior to at least basic civility is more necessary than ever.  Plenty of organizations have policies. Following them is essential.  Laws are needed too, so that workers on all levels have recourse when they are mistreated in this way.

 

 

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Power and Control

©2018 Gail Pursell Elliott

Bullies and Mobbers are invested in power and control. This is important to watch for when disciplining someone who has been proven to have perpetrated this behavior or instigated others to do likewise. Maintaining that power and control is of utmost importance and in the extreme, may manifest in both overt and covert ways. How does one rehabilitate a serial Mobber or bully?  When I participated in an international online chat of experts on the topic, most concurred that this is a sociopathic personality style that is difficult, if impossible to rehabilitate. Those who have consistently dealt with life, people, and environments in this way are masters of manipulation and head games.  When thwarted, they may become vicious or potentially violent, the proverbial iron fist encased in a velvet glove. It can be seen either in process or potential in all sorts of situations, as well as in the media. Once you understand the process, it is easier to recognize whether a situation is really the result of mobbing or whether it is something else.

Whenever there is a shooting reported, I pay close attention as many do, looking for motivation. What I do see in all the perpetrators is that investment in power and control, whether the issue is workplace related, domestic, political, ideological, or something else. Regardless of whether the violence seems senseless, it makes sense to the perpetrator. We have also seen situations in which that sense of power takes over the individual, resulting in more victims. Unfortunately, in some of the mass shootings that we have seen recently, innocent victims were simply collateral damage from being in the wrong place at the wrong time, seen as objects rather than as human beings.

Mobbing and bullying involve power and control like any form of violation whether physical or emotional. In fact, this has been described as a rape of the spirit, destroying self-esteem and shattering the person’s sense of identity. It is important to remember that targets feel robbed of control over their lives and destiny. It has been demonstrated numerous times that the aftermath of being violated in this way often lasts for years and influences the target’s perceptions and actions in other environments. Hypersensitivity to interactions with others, reactions to and misinterpretations of innocent comments and other anxiety-based responses may result in new isolation experiences for the target. Anger, fear and paranoia responses are often noted in extreme cases. Over time and with validation of the dignity and respect the target deserves, just as much as any human being, these reactions can be alleviated and even healed. If not, anything is possible from suicide to homicide, to dissociation, to a life of quiet desperation.

Power and control are two of the basic human needs described in the work of William Glasser, M.D. Human beings will fight to regain it if it is threatened or taken away regardless of the circumstances, whether at work or in other environments. In normal amounts, power and control are part of who we all are.  In excess they result in abuse, tragedy, or at the least a loss of balance. A simple example can be seen in the classic holiday film, A Christmas Story. Our hero has had a rough day and is again confronted by the local bully on the way home. Instead of running he explodes in rage and starts punching his nemesis and cannot be stopped until his mother intervenes. His friends look on in horror not understanding that the rage is triggered by finally taking control of a situation when everything else seems out of control.

All that any of us can do is pay attention, watch ourselves and our interactions with others and what is going on around us. In our workplaces, do we sense an air of conditioned helplessness on the part of employees? That no matter what their input, nothing changes? That there is no feedback? Are threats to staff by customers ignored? Do people feel safe coming to and going home from work? Do they feel safe at work? Do they feel safe making mistakes? Do they over react to situations? If some of these questions seem worth asking, please do so, even if it is a blind survey so that staff do not have to identify themselves. It will give you a sense of a dimension of the climate in your workplace that may be valuable. If nothing else, it will let your staff know that you are paying attention and that is of value itself.

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Gail Pursell Elliott, “The Dignity and Respect Lady”, is a Professional Speaker, Consultant, and Author. She is available to assist you with Mobbing, Bullying, and soft skills Human Resources issues. Gail had over 20 years’ experience in middle and upper management before founding Innovations “Training With A Can-Do Attitude” in 1998. She is coauthor of the book Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace and is an expert in this field. Contact through her website:   innovations-training.com

 

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Lost in Translation

©2018 Gail Pursell Elliott

In the metaphorical book Walk the Talk, the CEO of a company was practicing a speech and a custodian was quietly listening in the back. After, the custodian said that he completely agreed with the CEO’s philosophy for the organization. Then asked if he would like to see what was really going on. The two took an anonymous walk through the company and found that the positive teamwork that the CEO promoted just wasn’t happening.  It was breaking down level by level until it was completely lost.

Many policy interpretations go over the edge when it comes to what might be construed as decency and treating employees as human beings. Most of their targets simply disappear, forced out by being placed in untenable or unworkable situations by shift, stress levels, changing work responsibilities, being set up by changing the rules without communication, to name a few.

All these scenarios are examples of an old management style designed to circumvent normal Human Resources procedures for terminating an employee’s services. It is expedient, heartless, and based on business principles that side step some forms of discrimination.  In some cases, it is standard procedure for what is referred to as cleaning house. It also falls within the discretion of management to implement any of these. After all, we’re running a business here.  Treating people equally does not mean treating them equitably. For hourly staff it seems there is no recourse. The finger is pointed at upper management as being the determining factor, and in many cases, this is true. Guidelines and directives may not smack of mobbing but the execution of them winds up being just that.

Over the years I’ve observed:

Reorganizations that eliminated positions held by long term employees just shy of retirement who have had to fight for pensions.

Departmental reorganizations in which current employees had to interview for their own jobs.

Hours reduced so that part timers who lived a distance away could no longer afford to work at the company.

Older employees who were transferred to shifts or work locations within a department that made it impossible for them to either fulfill the job requirements or impacted their health to the point they had to resign.

In some of these cases, employees went to their managers and explained their dilemmas.  Often their concerns and pleas fell on deaf ears or they were told that the manager had no choice. If you think that these employees kept quiet about their situations, think again.  Of course, they didn’t.  Sad, stressed, and scared, they shared their situations with coworkers as well as family and friends. Disgruntled? You bet. Coworkers formed camps of opinion. Some simply didn’t care. Some didn’t understand that elderly employees were working for survival. Some were disgusted with the way their coworkers were treated. In all cases, coworkers agreed that the company didn’t care about staff and was interested in only the bottom line.

If you recognize some of these scenarios occurring in your organization, there are some adjustments that can be made to alleviate situations that fall into the realm of mobbing. First, treating employees as individuals rather than merely part of a collective work group is essential. Sharing some issues with staff can trigger ideas from them for meeting the expectations of policy concerns. Above all, listening to employees’ concerns without brushing them off and working on finding proactive solutions will go a long way to keeping your reputation as one of seeing your work group as a team of individuals with a common focus. Taking care of them sets the tone for them to take care of each other and to care more about what they are doing for your company. And this impacts the bottom line as much as anything else. This is where the science of management becomes an art.

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For Speaking and Consulting contact Gail through her website:    https://innovations-training.com

For videos including the Five Phases of the Mobbing Process visit youtube.com/dignityrespectlady

Gail Pursell Elliott, “The Dignity and Respect Lady”, has over 20 years experience in middle and upper management, founded Innovations “Training With A Can-Do Attitude” in 1998, and is author of several books including School Mobbing and Emotional Abuse and co-author of the book Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace.  Her Food for Thought articles are read by people around the world.   Gail has been a guest on such programs as MSNBC’s Deborah Norville Tonight, ABC World News NOW television programs and the Workplace Violence Today program on talk radio.

 

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Belief, Validation, Recourse

©2018 Gail Pursell Elliott

One of the key needs for a target of bullying/mobbing is to be believed. That is not to say that we must not take a hard look at an accusation or report for clarity, patterns of behavior, or in worse cases a perpetrator posing as a target, which I have seen.  A study by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that 75% of workplace harassment victims experienced retaliation after filing a complaint. This fear obviously contributes to underreporting, which is why we see offences reported sometimes years after they are committed. Once it becomes recognized, validated, believed, and reported, others may gain the courage to come forward and we see an apparent avalanche of incidents. Keeping an open mind, when listening to a story that flies in the face of reason, can be a challenge, especially when people who are targeted are subjected to unreasonable and inhuman behavior. Reprisal in an organization can take the form of mobbing.  Reprisal in an organization that has a venomous undercurrent can go way beyond the workplace.  I have worked with individuals who have been followed, stalked, or run off the road on the way home from work. Others have reported tires slashed, homes broken into, garbage appearing in locked cars, and other vandalism.  One wonders why or how others can be enlisted to participate.  There are documented cases of man’s inhumanity to man throughout history. What was once thought of as an aberration is now received with, “here we go again.” When statements once relegated to what was affectionately called the lunatic fringe become regularly reported occurrences we have reached a critical juncture that goes unrecognized or ignored by too many.

The second key need for a target is validation.  That is affirming that the person is not only believed but also is a valuable individual.  The concept of gaslighting is frequently used as part of mobbing and bullying to make it appear that the person is not only at fault but deserves the ill treatment being dispensed.  “Gaslighting is a form of persistent manipulation and brainwashing that causes the victim to doubt her or himself, and ultimately lose her or his own sense of perception, identity, and self-worth. The term is derived from the 1944 film Gaslight, in which a husband tries to convince his wife that she’s insane by causing her to question herself and her reality.” – Preston Ni M.S.B.A., Psychology Today, April 30, 2017.  In the film, the wife is saved by a detective validating that the incidents she is supposedly imagining are indeed real.  This tactic is used in relational abuse as well as workplace emotional abuse, and again, validation is one of the key factors in helping the individual regain a sense of identity, personal dignity, and self-respect.  Some statements I have used with targets that have been helpful are, “This is not your fault,” “You don’t deserve to be treated like this,” “You are the same person you always thought you were.”

The third key need is for recourse and this is the most difficult. Most employees simply want the behavior to be addressed, for it to stop, and to be able to continue to work in an emotionally healthy environment, free from threats and abuse. Some want an apology, which is validating that the abuse occurred.  Some want to file a lawsuit, which is a form of validation and recourse that may take the form of a monetary award.   Some want the perpetrator(s) punished or to retaliate in some other way. Those with whom I’ve worked frequently say that they don’t want it to happen to anyone else. The news has been filled with horrible events over the past month in which people in various situations have taken retaliation for perceived offenses into their own hands.  I say perceived because I don’t have enough information to make definitive statements regarding their motivations.  What I do know is that potentially anyone can be targeted, anyone can lose sight of their humanity long enough to treat someone like an object or opportunity, and anyone can be pushed past the point of reason. I also know that we as human beings at work can treat our coworkers as human beings as well, with wants, hopes, needs, dreams, desires, and the right to be treated with dignity and respect.

 

Gail Pursell Elliott, “The Dignity and Respect Lady”, has over 20 years’ experience in middle and upper management, founded Innovations “Training With A Can-Do Attitude” in 1998, and is author of several books including School Mobbing and Emotional Abuse and co-author of the book Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace.  Her Food for Thought articles are read by people around the world.   Gail has been a guest on such programs as MSNBC’s Deborah Norville Tonight, ABC World News NOW television programs and the Workplace Violence Today program on talk radio.  She loves what she does and believes that it matters

Human Relations Consulting – Soft Skills Training – Webinars, Teleconferences, or at Your Location
Mobbing, Bullying, and Harassment Expert, Professional Speaker​

For Consulting, Assistance and Training, contact Gail through her website:

innovations-training.com

For videos including the Five Phases of the Mobbing Process visit youtube.com/dignityrespectlady/videos

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The Third Degree

©2018 Gail Pursell Elliott

 

The impact of Mobbing on the individual is correlated to burns, as in first, second, and third degree.  Third degree mobbing includes the most damaging results of all, where the target is unable or unlikely to be rehabilitated due to the severity of the abuse. This may include the extremes of suicide, homicide, or both.

One of our Mobbing book interview partners shared that after being placed on administrative leave, the Human Resources director called and during the conversation remarked, “You know, someone in your position might consider suicide.”  Fortunately, our partner didn’t pursue that idea but did share that the exchange caused enough anger to fantasize about getting a weapon and blowing the director away. Fantasies are one thing, reality is another.

Several months ago, during a meeting of about 100 employees some of whom were complaining about work conditions, an administrator is alleged to have said, ““If it’s that bad, you can leave. You can leave or go kill yourself.” The news report also quoted the following, “The room erupted in emotion,” said an employee who didn’t want to be identified. “People were crying. People were yelling at him. One, we just lost a deputy because of suicide. Two, I don’t think he understands the gravity of the situation. We’re not here for the money, we’re here because we love what we do.”

Whistle blowers are among those targeted by mobbing and bullying orchestrated by the organization. Sometimes the concern of someone becoming a whistle blower is enough.  This could be someone who has overheard a conversation or asks a question that might expose indiscretions or fraud.  Having worked with individuals targeted for just such reasons, I can tell you that the consequences of being a threat in some way can be both serious and far reaching.

Most of us don’t expect to be thrown into a cloak-and-dagger story when we go to work unless that’s the nature of the business.  Even when dealing with sensitive or confidential information, most of us expect not to be thwarted, coerced, or undermined by our company or peers. Unfortunately, this does happen to some individuals and when it does they are taken by surprise. In fact, initially there is a disbelief that this could really be happening at all, let alone to them.

In a recently reported case involving Workers’ Compensation, the judge in the case found evidence “clear and convincing” that (the target) suffered from “mental derangement” that her employer inflicted on her, leading to her suicide. Medical notes referred to in the judge’s order say: “… was very stressed and felt trapped … could not sleep, waking every hour, and this had been going on for the last six months. M. felt hopeless, overwhelmed and worthless.  Had thoughts about work and how she was not going to be able to get out of this problem.”   The individual had discovered financial fraud perpetrated by her boss and another staff person, tried to report it with no results. Then the individual was placed in a position by her boss to suggest that she was responsible should the situation be discovered. A real set-up and scapegoating. The individual committed suicide the day before returning to work after an extended medical leave.

Sometimes organizations will try to avoid responsibility by asserting that the employee had pre-existing mental health issues.  However, in another recent Workers’ Compensation decision, the court acknowledged the pre-existing condition but went on to state that there was sufficient information to attribute his mental health issues and death to his employment.  “experienced interpersonal incidents that were excessive and unusual in comparison to pressures and tensions experienced in normal employment.” “most recent mental health issues will be considered first as an aggravation of his pre-existing condition and then an acceleration that led to his taking his life.”

Third degree mobbing does not have to result in this extreme outcome, in fact more often it does not. The other extreme is homicide, when someone fulfills the fantasy of our interview partner. It is worth noting that many of these perpetrators shoot themselves as well. Without enough backstory, many of the news reports of workplace shootings that might be attributed to mobbing or bullying go unanswered or are not explored. Regardless, without some sort of recourse, desperate people indeed do desperate things. While legislation lags in enacting healthy workplace bills to include emotionally healthy workplaces, organizations themselves can take the lead in stepping up cultural awareness within their own.

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Gail Pursell Elliott, “The Dignity and Respect Lady”, has over 20 years’ experience in middle and upper management, founded Innovations “Training With A Can-Do Attitude” in 1998, and is author of several books including School Mobbing and Emotional Abuse and co-author of the book Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace.  Her Food for Thought articles are read by people around the world.   Gail has been a guest on such programs as MSNBC’s Deborah Norville Tonight, ABC World News NOW television programs and the Workplace Violence Today program on talk radio.  Contact Gail at innovations-training.com

Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace is now available as an E-book.  Download your copy today at http://www.mobbing-usa.com. “Since coauthoring Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace I have continued to write about mobbing and bullying in both workplaces and schools. My coauthors and I were not the first to address mobbing and bullying on an international basis, but we were the first to present the concept of mobbing in the United States. Since our book was published in 1999, many others have jumped on the bandwagon with their own work and that is a good thing. The more people who become aware of this form of mental and emotional abuse and endeavor to educate and intercept it, the better. There is a long way to go but progress in such a worthwhile area is gratifying and I am grateful to be a part of it.”  Gail Pursell Elliott, The Dignity and Respect Lady, website:    innovations-training.com

 

 

 

 

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Name Your Price

©2017 Gail Pursell Elliott

We’ve examined the relative costs of bullying and mobbing in the workplace in terms of the cost to the individual, the costs to the organization in turnover, morale, workers compensation, reputation, and other areas. Yet environments continue to allow it to exist and persist. Perhaps the inconvenience of addressing the issue when it comes to individuals is part of this. Sometimes the perpetrator is someone who would be difficult to replace or someone who contributes to the success of the organization, such as the top sales performer.
These individuals can have an inflated sense of self-importance that can result in them treating others like underlings rather than as colleagues. Have you ever wished you could be a fly on the wall to witness what is really happening in your workplace? Many managers do and may either keep their office doors open or have their work area out in the open. It all depends on the industry and the type of work being accomplished. One Human Resources director told me she had spies everywhere to keep her informed of what was happening. I don’t know if that was true or not. This same person told me that if there was a dispute between an employee and a supervisor, guess who’s going to win?
With or without spies or flies on the wall, organizations can look at patterns of behavior and history when determining whether the arrogance of a top performer has crossed the line. At the same time, we can determine where that line is in each work area. They are indeed different from department to department based on individuals. Targets of bullying and mobbing become beaten down when they are not believed, helped, or when it becomes clear that there is no recourse. Interviews with employees have revealed some of the results of these factors.
1. Increased turnover in the department. New people don’t stay very long. They can’t handle it.

2. Undercurrent of fear. Lots of us have had run-ins with this person. We try to stay clear.

3. Reduced morale. This place sucks.

4. Unclear expectations. One day the procedure is this, the next day it changes, and I get in trouble. I never know if I’m doing it right.

5. Reduction in quantity or quality of work. I used to care about the company. I was proud to work here. Now it’s just a job.
These are just a few indicators that mobbing and bullying behaviors are poisoning the good efforts of employees. Lack of teamwork and trust are another result, as people who once enjoyed their employment become suspicious of management that is now viewed as hypocritical.
When mobbing takes hold in a department, a sense of group arrogance and anarchy is created, and the dynamics take on a life of their own. When a bully is not reigned in, whether a top performer or a difficult to replace professional or not, that same arrogance and sense of being untouchable, can result in worse behavior over time. It also can give rise to either an uninspired, beaten down work group, factionalism, full-blown mobbing, or worst-case scenario – retaliatory violence.
Some organizations either don’t recognize these factors or simply don’t care. Alternatively, others may feel trapped in an untenable situation, the cost of extrication being too high. It all depends on what is valued and whether sacrificing people, morale, trust, etc., is worth the cost of keeping or not restraining the antics of this type of individual. It has been said that everyone has his or her price.

Another interviewee had worked in Human Resources for years and finally transferred out saying, I just couldn’t do it anymore. For years he had participated in the undermining of individuals at the behest of upper management, and watched mobbing as a method of getting rid of employees who had become too old, too expensive, or who had ruffled the feathers of the wrong individual. Finally, the cost to him ethically became too high.

There are some who believe that this is just business. There are others who are unable to compartmentalize their actions toward others in such a way. Where are the lines in your organization? At what point will the cost become too high?
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For consultation or assistance with workplace Mobbing and Bullying, contact author Gail Pursell Elliott, known as The Dignity and Respect Lady. Gail is co-author of the 1999 book Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace, the definitive book on this subject based on the original research of Dr. Heinz Leymann. Dr. Leymann was consulted while writing the book and wrote the forward to it. The book is now available in e-book format from mobbing-usa.com. Gail consults with organizations of all kinds, presents at conferences, and provides training on Mobbing and soft skills topics with a focus on people treating each other with Dignity and Respect. She has been recognized as an authority on Mobbing, Bullying and Harassment and has been a guest expert on both television and radio programs. Gail is the author of several books, including School Mobbing and Emotional Abuse: See It, Stop It, Prevent It with Dignity and Respect. Her Food for Thought essays are read by people around the world. Gail is proprietor of Innovations ͞Training With a Can-Do Attitude͟ located in Eastern Iowa. Her website

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Fake News, Fallacies, and Mobbing

©2017 Gail Pursell Elliott

Ever have a series of confirming coincidences?  After writing last issue’s article about The Rumor Mill, a subsequent article inspired by the flurry of concerns about fake news in the media seemed like a good idea.  These mirror such goings on in a work environment on a smaller scale but are no less confusing. This morning I received a marketing email from the NY Times.  It said:  “Truth. It comes at a cost.”  Shortly after that, a friend shared a website on logic fallacies.  I will share some with you, simple definitions of terms, many of which have everything to do with mobbing tactics that are regularly used.  It begins with ad hominem.  Perfect.

Ad hominem – Ad hominem attacks can take the form of overtly attacking somebody, or more subtly casting doubt on their character or personal attributes as a way to discredit their argument. The result of an ad hominem attack can be to undermine someone’s case without actually having to engage with it.”

We see a lot of this type of attack in a mobbing situation.  Discrediting through disparaging innuendoes is a regular tool of mobbers. Side comments such as “he’s really dull” or “no wonder she’s single” that have nothing to do with the workplace, or passing remarks about a person’s appearance or clothing feed into this subtle attack strategy.

Tu quoque – Pronounced too-kwo-kwee. Literally translating as ‘you too’ this fallacy is also known as the appeal to hypocrisy. It is commonly employed as an effective red herring because it takes the heat off someone having to defend their argument, and instead shifts the focus back on to the person making the criticism.”

Not only do we see this in mobbing, we see it among arguing children.  “He did this,” “Well, yesterday you did that,” which has nothing to do with the issue at hand. People taking issue wind up being manipulated into defending something completely off topic which may be erroneous as well, unless, of course, a third party intercedes. This tactic also is part of the blame-the-victim strategy known as DARVO: deny, accuse, reverse, victim, offender.

Loaded question – asked a question that had a presumption built into it so that it couldn’t be answered without appearing guilty. Loaded question fallacies are particularly effective at derailing rational debates because of their inflammatory nature – the recipient of the loaded question is compelled to defend themselves and may appear flustered or on the back foot.”

A prime example of this fallacy is the classic Groucho Marx, “Have you stopped beating your wife? Answer yes or no.”

Burden of proof –   The burden of proof lies with someone who is making a claim, and is not upon anyone else to disprove. The inability, or disinclination, to disprove a claim does not render that claim valid, nor give it any credence whatsoever. However it is important to note that we can never be certain of anything, and so we must assign value to any claim based on the available evidence, and to dismiss something on the basis that it hasn’t been proven beyond all doubt is also fallacious reasoning.”

Defending oneself against a lie is a difficult task, as it begins with a falsehood. Addressing it with the truth should work but sometimes does not. It depends on the perception of others and what they choose to believe. Unfortunately, many are too willing to believe a negative inference before investigating further. Perception is as powerful as reality, for perception determines what is real to each person.

Ambiguity – a double meaning or language used to mislead or misrepresent the truth. Politicians are often guilty of using ambiguity to mislead and will later point to how they were technically not outright lying if they come under scrutiny.

The reason that it qualifies as a fallacy is that it is intrinsically misleading.”

Ambiguity can be used to make a person look indecisive or inconsistent. Being forced to make decisions without necessary or complete information is an example. Undercutting a person’s decisions arbitrarily is another.

https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/ad-hominem

Becoming aware of some of these fallacies and how they are used can be helpful in getting to the truth of situations that come about as the result of mobbing in an organization.  To quote the Times email “Truth. It comes at a cost.”  The cost to organizations may be in time, manpower, outside consultants, sometimes legal fees and more to get to it.  The truth to targeted individuals is life itself in some cases and careers in others. The truth to coworkers and other staff members becomes freedom from fear, and the power to get back to business to the benefit of everyone, except, of course, to the mobbers.

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Gail Pursell Elliott is known as The Dignity and Respect Lady.  She has been recognized as an authority on Mobbing, Bullying and Harassment since 1998 and has been a guest expert on both television and radio programs.  Gail is the author of several books, including School Mobbing and Emotional Abuse: See It, Stop It, Prevent It with Dignity and Respect. Her Food for Thought essays are read by people around the world.  She is co-author of the 1999 book Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace, the definitive book on this subject based on the original research of Dr. Heinz Leymann. She consults with organizations of all kinds, presents at conferences, and provides training on Mobbing and soft skills topics with a focus on people treating each other with Dignity and Respect.  Gail is founder and proprietor of Innovations “Training With a Can-Do Attitude” located in Eastern Iowa.  Her website is www.innovations-training.com