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February 23, 2005

Mobbing: Awareness is the Key

Tonight I'd like to highlight an interesting and excellent person who is working to promote dignity and respect in our schools, workplaces and society. As Gail Pursell Elliot, the dignity and respect lady says, "No exceptions."

Every so often I get an email like this and I thought this one in particular was a good message worth sharing. It talks about mobbing, which is something I was only vaguely aware of and never gave much thought to. Since reading this though, I can recall several incidents at work that would be considered mobbing. Those were really incidents where awareness could have helped stop mobbing before it happened. Here is the whole article, which is really good food for thought:

Food for Thought - Mobbing: Awareness is the Key
2005 Gail Pursell Elliott

Are you a mobber? Have you ever made fun of people behind their backs? Spread rumors? Played practical jokes that weren't really funny and got others to join in your laughter? Have you joined in some of this behavior thinking you were right or justified, or perhaps because you didn't want to be excluded from the group?

If you have, be aware the next time you are tempted to treat another person in this way that this is mobbing and mobbing is group bullying.

Mobbing has no age, gender, race, or work preference. It can happen to anyone. It is a 'ganging up' on someone using the tactics of rumor, innuendo, discrediting, isolating, intimidating, and above all, making it look as if the targeted person is responsible. As is typical of many abusive situations, the perpetrators maintain that the victim 'deserved it.'

Mobbing is emotional abuse that can result in depression, isolation, paranoia, physical and/or emotional illness, suicide, or violent acts of retaliation. At the very least, it leaves permanent scars. Many targets suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There is always injury.

Mobbing has been a household word in German-speaking countries for years. The original research on workplace mobbing was done in Sweden, beginning in the early 1980's, by industrial psychologist Dr. Heinz Leymann.

Insight and awareness play a major role in change because many people engage in this type of behavior without thinking. Prevention includes paying attention not only to what we're doing but also to what is going on around us. Most people don't intentionally abuse someone.

While the media showcases big stories, our lives are full of little stories that are never broadcast. We don't hear about the child who is afraid to ride the school bus because no one will sit with them or because of what others say to them or the worker who dreads going to work and suffers from nightmares because of the work environment. We don't hear about people who are so distracted by this type of behavior being directed at them that they are involved in an auto accident.

Here's an example of how insight and awareness can make a difference. A woman had read about workplace mobbing and was telling someone about it. These two attended an aerobics class together. There was a relatively new member of the class who was rather uncoordinated and as a result was throwing everyone off of their rhythm. Although she was friendly, the other class members talked about her, made fun of her behind her back and wished she'd just drop out and leave. Suddenly one of the two chatting about mobbing said, "'Oh my goodness! Are we mobbing this woman?"

It was a revelation. They decided to get to know the woman better. They found that she was an intelligent, professional person who did a lot of good work with teens. They found that when they looked past her loud voice and her uncoordinated movements that she was a person who they could like and respect. That's what the word respect means as I interpret it. To 'look again.'

The woman is still in the class. She stands in the back row. And the others have stopped their mobbing behavior simply because they became aware of what they were doing, and the implications and potential result of their actions.

Most of us choose to believe that we are basically good human beings. And we're right. The more aware we become of the fact that others are good human beings also, worthy and entitled to be treated with dignity and respect without exception, the closer we will be to recreating our world and helping to heal it. Awareness is the key.

Have a great day and be good to yourself. You deserve it!

Gail

2005 Gail Pursell Elliott All rights reserved.
Food For Thought is part of the Dignity and Respect message that is Innovations. If you enjoyed this Food For Thought message, please share it with others. Honor the copyright and forward this email in its entirety.
Reprinting or re-distribution in any form for commercial use, including reproducing or displaying on your website, requires permission. Contact Gail at gail@innovations-training.com or at 515.388.9600

Gail has more food for thought articles on her website as well as books, posters and other tools to help promote dignity and respect for everyone. I am interested reading those books sometime. They look very useful and thought provoking. http://www.innovations-training.com. Check it out. I think she is providing a useful service to our businesses and society. If we really want a better society, this is a good way to start changing it, with love and dignity and respect for each human being, no exceptions.

Posted by carl1236 at February 23, 2005 10:12 PM | Love your Neighbor

Comments

This is happening to me every single day and each time I relate my experience to somebody else I'm being percieve as crazy. All my neighbor here in Anaheim Hills are making sure everyday is a miserable one. I can't understand why, what I did to them nor any logical reason as to why me? My wife and I live with our 4 dogs and we have no kids. We both work from 5 am to 5 pm, Monday thru Friday. The sad thing is, I don't know who will listen. I don't even know my Neighnors name much more their email addresses. I would love to spead your wisdom to these people.

Posted by: Mario Del Pilar at March 11, 2005 1:08 AM

This is happening to me every single day and each time I relate my experience to somebody else I'm being percieve as crazy. All my neighbor here in Anaheim Hills are making sure everyday is a miserable one.

The sad thing is, I don't know who will listen. I don't even know my Neighnors name much more their email addresses. I would love to spead your wisdom to these people.

Posted by: Mario Del Pilar at March 11, 2005 1:10 AM

yes, Mario, I understand. I see this kind of mobbing at work also. And in neighborhoods it can be worse, because we often think of our homes as refuges from our daily life. But when home is not a refuge, but a defended fortress, where are we?
Hehe, maybe we should purchase a few of Gail's books on mobbing and send them to your neighbors. I've been wanting to get it and read it myself, but haven't yet. I think we cannot change other people but that doesn't mean we can't give them the opportunity for awareness. Many people will change willingly once they are aware there is a problem with their current beliefs.
Also, some ideas I found that were helpful in our neighborhood:
Invite one neighbor at a time to dinner. Get to know them individually so they are not a mob against you. Most people don't realize they are mobbing, but are less likely to do it when they know you well. Another thing we do in our neighborhood is have regular block-club meetings, which I find very beneficial. It gives everyone in the neighborhood a chance to meet everyone else and see we aren't such bad neighbors after all. It also makes us more willing to look out for one another instead of targeting one another.
Let's talk more about mobbing in this space. I think it's a serious issue in our society.

Posted by: John at March 16, 2005 11:39 PM