We can identify four stages that targets of workplace bullying, mobbing, or abuse may experience in working their way to better places in their lives. I have discussed them at greater length in an earlier piece, but here’s a quick summary:
- Recognition — Recognizing and understanding the bullying behaviors and their effects on you;
- Response — Figuring out how to respond to the mistreatment;
- Recovery — Recovering from the experience; and,
- Renewal — Moving forward.
These stages often overlap, and they are not necessarily linear.
Getting to that better place, however, is no easy task. To help people understand the scope of potential options, here is a quick checklist of possibilities, with a note that the legal and employee benefit options are specific to U.S. readers:
1. Medical assistance — For seeking treatment for physical and mental health conditions related to the mistreatment.
2. Therapy and counseling — For addressing mental health issues related to the mistreatment, ideally with a licensed mental health provider who understands interpersonal abuse and traumatic stress.
3. Coaching — For understanding, developing, and assessing options and choices.
4. Career coaching/counseling/consulting — For obtaining career guidance in the midst or aftermath of a bullying situation.
5. Employer-provided vacation, personal, and sick days — Using up accumulated leave days to remove yourself from the toxic work environment and to consider options.
6. Family and medical leave — Federal and state laws providing (usually unpaid) family and medical leave may offer an option if you have used up paid leave time but want to retain the right to return to your job.
7. Legal assistance/potential lawsuit — As many readers know, we are still working to enact comprehensive workplace bullying legislation. However, in some instances, anti-discrimination laws, disability laws, whistleblower and anti-retaliation protections, collective bargaining agreements, employee handbooks, and other miscellaneous legal provisions may provide the “hook” you need for a potential legal claim.
8. Legal assistance/public benefits — Unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation, and Social Security Disability offer potential sources of income replacement due to job loss and work-related injuries.
The Need Help? page of this blog contains links to helpful resources and past blog posts that expound upon some of the items above.
Also, I highly recommend these two affordably priced books:
Gary Namie & Ruth Namie, The Bully at Work (2d ed. 2009) — Gary and Ruth are co-founders of the Workplace Bullying Institute, whose website also is an excellent source of information. This is the bestselling book on dealing with workplace bullying situations, and for good reason.
Maureen Duffy & Len Sperry, Overcoming Mobbing: A Recovery Guide for Workplace Aggression and Bullying (2014) — Maureen and Len have written an excellent book, especially for those who are facing mobbing-style mistreatment at work.
A final word
As many readers can attest, there are few quick fixes when it comes to dealing with most severe workplace bullying situations. Furthermore, the challenge of sorting out options is often left to the individual experiencing the mistreatment. Making smart decisions in the midst of a bullying or mobbing situation requires arming yourself with as much information as possible and seeking out available sources of help. There are no guarantees, but these efforts can make a positive difference.