©2020 Gail Pursell Elliott
The past few months have been such that I don’t know where to begin to talk about Mobbing and Bullying. The news has inundated us with examples of both from many sources, so I will attempt in this short space to share my perceptions.
Mobbing is driven by fear, targeted by innuendo, instigated by rumor.
The target is viewed as a threat.
The target is victimized by scapegoating.
The target is the subject of unsubstantiated or overblown rumors.
The target is someone who is pushed out, isolated, ignored, or attacked.
The target is not seen as a human being.
People want some sort of explanation for things they don’t understand. They tend to fill in the blanks for themselves to make sense of it all. They then began to draw conclusions based upon little concrete information and they can be easily manipulated by mobbers who will gladly supply fillers for the blanks in understanding. We see this in the aftermath of peaceful demonstration by sudden unexpected looting that has no point other than destruction of property and theft and more importantly, confusion and destabilization. Mobbers take advantage of fear and uncertainty and whip groups whether large or small into a frenzy, unless level heads prevail.
The level-headed will look past the surface to the substance, from the branches to the roots. Mobbing simmers below the surface and can erupt seemingly without warning although the indicators are there and often ignored or downplayed or blamed on something else. The goal is power, defined as dominance and control, whether it be over people, economies, politics, or businesses. Whether the circumstances exist within a department or a community, the human dynamics that contribute to the syndrome of mobbing remain the same. And a similar process must be employed to help get it under control, the first step of which is not to react and get sucked into the situation. This is not to say that in certain situations a quick response is necessary to prevent injury, for example let’s extinguish the fire before saying, “oh dear how did this get started?” Too often with mobbing, the underlying cause will still exist and persist regardless of what surface deterrents are employed. Much of it has to do with attitudes, fears, ongoing resentments, and a desire for power regardless of the cost.
Politics is in warp drive during an election year and campaigning is rife with mobbing behaviors. Unjustified accusations, questioning credentials, intimidation, all exacerbated by the rumor mill of media is quite a circus to watch. Unlike a circus, however, lives and futures are at stake. Just as in a workplace mobbing, it is difficult to dig deep enough to find the truth or to determine what is fabricated and what is embellished. Factionalism is rampant and there are those who will dismiss facts that are not supportive of their beliefs. It is important to take the time to think, discern, and verify information that grabs at one’s sense of outrage or seems to justify behavior that is inappropriate or unexpected. Taking a step back and looking at situations from an objective point of view is important, although initially it may seem to be more confusing than clarifying. The dust will begin setting and the view will clear so that patterns and processes are more apparent and easier to address.
In these times, treating all people with dignity and respect Is more critical than ever. We can do this by taking the time to look past the first impression, the label, the stereotype, and see each person as a human being with wants, hopes, needs, dreams, desires, people who love them and people they love. Then by acknowledging the person human to human beyond work and societal relationships, realizing that we are all connected by what makes us human at the root of our existence.
Gail Pursell Elliott is known as The Dignity and Respect Lady. She consults with organizations, presents at conferences, and offers programs 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. Contact Gail through her website innovations-training.com
Gail 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 and 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. Her Food for Thought essays are read by people around the world.