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I suffer from mobbing, but on the other side?
January 30, 2000
12:41 pm
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eve
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at work I'm "struggling" with one of my employees. I sometimes react very emotionally, I even started to shout, something I haven't done since teenage times of feeling completely helpless and missunderstood.

I have the feeling that often when I tell her what to do, or how to do something, she is either not listening, or she takes it personally, when it isn't. And by doing so, she doesn't give me the chance to tell her how I want things done, and help her learn (she's still quite new on the job). It's a lot better now, than when she began here, but on and off there are days that go completely downhill.

Thursday we talked about it, and she told me that she discontinued her previous two jobs because of mobbing, and that she is having therapy. I feel lousy, because I don't seem to be able to break that vicious circle of self fulfilling prophecies. I even see the motives of what we do: She starts to defend herself often, when I tell her to do something differently, even when I do it as non-agressively as possible. I notice that she is defending herself, and I also notice that I made her feel very badly - and too often I take this as an accusation to me, and in return try to defend myself. This triggers more of her self-defence reaction and panic, and that in return really gets me going (because I hear in my mind: you make me panic, you do this to me). It's so stupid, and it is causing a lot of pain for her and for me.
This is very difficult for me, because I'm in a "boss" position for the first time, and I'm quite insecure there. Normally my job is one of my "safe places", something I really like to do. To concentrate on my work often helped me to overcome rough times in private live. So this is something that really feels threatening to me, even if I should know better.
And of course this has to do with "control". I think that I'm responsible for "my" lab (I'm myself an employee, but my boss is far away, and she gives me pretty free reign), and I think when I'm responsible I also should be in control. And I'm not sure if I like being in control of my employees. I don't have a problem whith the other one, though.

January 30, 2000
5:02 pm
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VRJ
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Just curious, what is mobbing?

January 31, 2000
2:12 am
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eve
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vrj, isn't mobbing an english word?
Mobbing is when somebody gets a lot of unfair pressure in their jobs, is blamed for things they didn't do, is told they always do things wrong. It does severe damage to the person it's happening to; and it is said to do a lot of economical damage, too. I guess in essence mobbing is an abusive workplace relationship.

January 31, 2000
5:50 pm
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VRJ
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oh, ok, thanks, I've never heard it before.

January 31, 2000
10:30 pm
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kitten
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Sort of like sexual harassment without the sexual part? I never heard that word before, either.

Do you present things to her using "I" statements..."I've found the best way to put smears on the slide is to do it this way"? Or, when you give her choices, do you give her two choices which are both desirable to you, but will allow her the opportunity to choose? She sounds like a child and if she is doing her work to standards she might need to be treated like one until she can be nurtured into "adulthood". That might not be what you want to do or feel as though you should do, however, it might give you a very loyal employee in the end. Her behavior must have been the same in the past, yet no one ever took the time to help her adapt.
Good luck. I wish you a bucket full of patience!!!

February 1, 2000
11:19 am
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eve
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Kitten, VRJ,

thanks for the responses.
Our work - relationship seems to have improved since our last talk. Well, just let's wait and see.

But I'm amazed that there doesen't seem to be an English word for Mobbing. I did a search with yahoo and it brought some threethousand sites, most of them German or Skandinavian (funny letters in the tites), some french. And very few in Englich, but those were about behavioral science and bird calls (that's where the word was taken from)

It seems to be a big issue, and in the bigger companies they have somebody where people can go and get advice about that. It is about people suffering a lot, because other coworkers (same level or superior) repeatedly (over half a year) do abusive behavior (scapegoating, harassing, giving them stupid tasks, talking down...) towards the mobbing-victim. The labor unions make this a big issue because they say that it is sometimes used to get rid of employees that can't be sacked easyly. And managment training people make this a big issue because they say that mobbing leads to big economical losses, because it lowers the motivation of people far below zero.

So: is this an issue in the US at all, just whith an other name? Or is it no issue? I don't believe it doesn't happen. Are companies in Europe held responsible for the general wellbeing of their employees more than in the US?

February 1, 2000
6:31 pm
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VRJ
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Now I get it. I'm in Canada and it's called harassment. It can be personal, sexual, group, etc. Or it can also be a dysfunctional workplace. And yes we have employee assistance programs.

February 2, 2000
12:55 am
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kitten
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Eve,

Like VRJ and I have said, it is called harrasment here:across the pond. However, I must say in the States we have a saying that is: "ya know what I mean?" In otherwords, if someone is giving you a hard time...you give it back. Folks here are very confrontational...the pioneer spirit makes them unable to take a lot of crap. There are many sayings to get someone off your case, like in the above quote. For instance...someone makes a nasty comment so you say to them..."knock it off or I'll have to take care of some business, if ya know what I mean?" Rent a "Godfather" movie and you will see what a lot of Americans on the East coast are like. A very tough crowd. Most of the harassment that goes on is subliminal--the worst kind. I always believe it is better to know who your enemies are...or could be.

Does any of that make sense? Let's just say Americans are good people, but not the most polite group in the world!

February 2, 2000
11:36 am
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eve
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Kitten, VRJ, thanks.

Oh kitten,

I live in this country that to me seems to have invented politeness. One reason for me to believe that Freud was talking about "typical" Austrian problems (which are, of course found everywhere, but politeness and suppression of the emotional Id by a mighty "be polite" Super-ego seem to be so close together).

I think politeness is wonderful for everyday relationships that are not personal and are not meant to be (at the supermarket, the baker...). But "having to" be polite and watch your words constantly can really ammount to severe restriction (you can do that to yourself or you can point it at others, e.g. parents to children...).

But: maybe there is a hidden "taboo" in north America about not being able to defend oneself, not daring to speak up? Just thinking... I'mean over here you're bound to find a lot of people who share your feelings and console you when you feel helpless, but not a lot of people who'll tell you "knock it off".

Something else I noticed when I searched the net about this issue: most (german language) homepages that are about this topic deal mainly whith telling people how they can recognise that they are victims and how you can get others to realize that you are victimized and how to show others who is responsible for it. There is few emphasis on how to stop it, get better, self-help, therapy and counseling offers for the victims and the abusers and so on....? I think I noticed a major sociocultural difference here?

I got some very helpful answers to my problem from a managment discussion group, and no answer at all at a german speaking psychology discussion group.

I think that a lot of my personal problems whith my employee came from my side: I didn't know how to best train her - because I hadn't done this before so I didn't have a good idea of what she should know and what not (but I'm not bad at teaching, generally - did tutoring during school and university to earn some money). So I let myself be dragged into trying to teach her everything at once - not realizing that she was unrealistic about trying to learn so much at one time. I didn't realize early that she was very afraid to make mistakes - and therefore I took it personally when she tried to hide mistakes from me. Then we needed another two weeks until she realized and started to believe that I really and honestly expect her to ask, when she doesn't know something. And that I will not blame her for asking or gloat at her ignorance. Sometimes she still takes my pointing out an error or even explaining troubleshooting routines as gloating over her ignorance - but we are much quicker at realizing that it happens. Now I seem a bit trapped between not expecting too much of her (trying not to frustrate her further) and not leting her do enough on her own (frustrating her by not realizing what she already learned). But I explained that to her, and things are improving....

I think I'm more the outspoken type and can deal better whith that. I'll really be glad when I hear the first "knock it off, will ya" from her 🙂

Anyway, thanks for listening.

February 3, 2000
12:26 am
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kitten
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eve,

I am glad things are working out there. We in the US are big on assertiveness training...being able to defend oneself both verbally and physically.

Your employee, however, should not tell you to knock it off...out of respect for your position, but I would expect a Geeeeezzz and some eye rolling. And some mumbling under the breath...

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