Have you ever experienced bullying in the workplace
Bullying at work - Scapegoat wanted! This is how the bullying spiral works
Reading time: 6 minutes
Every bullying process starts with an unresolved conflict: a dispute between two people, structural problems, poorly managed teams. A person is made a scapegoat with the intent, conscious or unconscious, of getting rid of them. The bullying begins.
There is a typical bullying process. This is how Heinz Leymann writes, whose books are considered classics in bullying research. If the process is not stopped, it has fatal psychological consequences for those affected.
In addition, it is also expensive for the company concerned and the taxpayers: bullying can lead to long-term illness, unemployment, social assistance, early retirement, disability or suicide.
The problem is well known, but bullying remains
Since Heinz Leymann brought the subject of bullying into public awareness in 1990 with his studies, many companies have taken measures to counteract the problem.
Heinz Leymann (1932-1999) was a business economist and psychologist. With his book "Mobbing: Psychoterror in the workplace and how one can defend oneself against it" in 1993 he laid the foundation for bullying research in German-speaking countries.
But the number of cases remains constant, says Daniela Giovanoli, President of the Swiss Bullying Center. Six to twelve people report there every week. Often their question is: is what is happening to them bullying?
"Most of them have already gone through a long path of suffering," says Giovanoli. «You are on the verge of permanent incapacity for work. First of all, I can only advise you to contact a doctor or a psychologist. They are often just too late, ”explains the lawyer.
You don't want to be a victim
Insomnia, anxiety, depression: Years of systematic attacks on their dignity and self-confidence are troubling those affected.
"Many of them are very motivated and identify strongly with their work," says Sabine Welte, corporate and management consultant in Basel. «Or rather: it was. When they come to me, they are often very confused and can hardly believe what they are experiencing. "
Who wants to be a victim of bullying? The shame of supposedly own fault is too great.Author: Sabine WelteBusiness consultant
Your clients don't like to use the word “bullying”: “Who wants to be a victim of bullying? The shame of supposedly own fault is too great, ”says the experienced coach.
The logic of a bullying history
The “stigma of self-indebtedness” is an integral part of the course of bullying, the inherent logic of which is shown by the psychologist Heinz Leymann.
In the first phase, a victim is identified and “prepared” with inconspicuous meanness: You don't greet the person, don't let them finish speaking, make jokes about them.
The bullied person begins to fight back, perhaps insists on their rights, and also tries to prove that the bullies have made mistakes. She questions herself, thoughts revolve around, insomnia and fear lead to mistakes.
The bullies set the rules of the game
The victim plays into the hands of the bullies: They increasingly discover "difficult personality traits" and brand the bullied person as a pain in the ass, bitch, wimp, psycho, loner and worse.
Many victims of bullying can hardly believe what they are going through.Author: Sabine WelteBusiness consultant
In this second phase, bullying becomes established: Whatever the victim does, it fits into the picture that the perpetrators sketch. The bullies have the authority to define and set the rules of the game.
The victim is "conjured up"
If the victim has not already been on sick leave or has been dismissed in this phase, the third phase of “destructive personnel management” follows: the conflict has escalated to such an extent, the victim has become so “conspicuous” that superiors or HR departments have to take notice of the “case” .
But especially here - where help could actually be in prospect - further dangers threaten. For example, superiors classify the “difficult” person as “guilty”, protect the hierarchy or want to hide their own wrong decisions.
Book author Heinz Leymann writes: The victim experiences his own conviction in which the prosecutor, witness and judge are one and the same person.
If nobody intervenes here, it comes to the fourth phase - the bitter end, the exclusion: The bullied person is either put on hold internally, on sick leave or sent into early retirement.
The environment, according to Leymann, “magically made the victim sick”.
Bullying is not a private matter
After a lengthy process of bullying, every person is down. After almost 30 years of research, Heinz Leymann comes to the conclusion: Only going to a specialist - a lawyer, a doctor, a psychotherapist, a coach - promises salvation.
Even so, bullying is not a private matter because the economic costs are high. Leymann has recalculated the story of Lena, a welder from Sweden, down to the smallest detail.
Lena was bullied by her male colleagues and her company into early retirement: Small teasing leads to a slight loss of productivity, Lena is increasingly on sick leave, the search for a replacement, loss of time due to numerous discussions with and about her, transfer and finally early retirement at 39 Years.
The operational bullying cost the company and taxpayers five million Swedish kronor - the equivalent of around 600,000 Swiss francs.
There are no reliable figures
Not every case ends so extreme. Leymann assumes around ten percent of the cases that are similar. Nevertheless, it is surprising that, given such costs, no more action is taken against bullying.
In Switzerland it starts with the fact that there are no reliable figures. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs Seco wrote a study in 2002.
The result: 7.6 percent of the slightly more than 3,000 respondents suffered from bullying. But the study was not representative. Economic costs cannot be calculated from this either, since, for example, early retirees, long-term unemployed or disability cases were not included.
There is no lobby against bullying
Sweden, Spain and France have now passed laws against bullying. In most other countries, only individual offenses such as harassment or defamation are prosecuted. This is also the case in Switzerland, where there is no binding definition or solid scientific studies.
Companies often lack the will to implement the guidelines they have set themselves.Author: Daniela GiovanoliPresident Bullying Headquarters Switzerland
"Bullying has no lobby," states lawyer Daniela Giovanoli from the Swiss Bullying Center. Nevertheless, the companies are to be made responsible: “Even small companies can determine which behavior they tolerate in the company and which not. There is no need for any scientific regulations. But the will to implement the guidelines we have set ourselves - which is often not the case. "
There is now enough specialist literature on how to do this. Advice - also writes Heinz Leymann - should not be addressed to the victim, but to the companies, the personnel departments, the trade unions. It is up to you to prevent bullying.
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