When someone is experiencing workplace bullying or mobbing, understanding what’s happening and assessing options are vitally important towards finding a way to a better place. There are many helpful resources available to targets of work abuse, such as those mentioned on the Need Help? page of this blog and my recently updated list of recommended books on workplace bullying and mobbing. However, the volume of resources may seem overwhelming, so I thought I’d offer a very selective list of four affordable books that I repeatedly recommend to others.
Let’s start with Gary Namie & Ruth Namie, The Bully at Work (2d ed. 2009). This is the bestselling book on dealing with workplace bullying situations, and for good reason. Gary and Ruth are co-founders of the Workplace Bullying Institute and pioneers of the U.S. workplace anti-bullying movement. They were the first North American subject-matter experts to conceptualize the dynamics of workplace bullying and to communicate their knowledge to the general public. Their work is foundational, and the insights and supportive advice in this book are invaluable. For so many people, this book helped them understand the abuse they were experiencing at work.
Next is Maureen Duffy & Len Sperry, Overcoming Mobbing: A Recovery Guide for Workplace Aggression and Bullying (2014). It’s safe to say that with this volume, Maureen and Len established themselves as the preeminent authorities on workplace mobbing. This book is a bit more academic in tone than The Bully at Work, but it is written in accessible prose and with a very supportive voice. It is also deeply insightful in grasping the dynamics of mobbing behaviors. This book, too, has provided many “light bulb” moments of understanding for people experiencing abuse at work.
Psychological trauma is one of the most frequent impacts of severe bullying and mobbing at work. To understand trauma and possibilities for treating it, Bessel van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma (2014), is strongly recommended. This is a brilliant, in-depth, and accessible look at the nature of psychological trauma and potential treatment options, authored by one of the leading authorities. Suffice it to say that I have given away a good half dozen copies of this book to others.
Finally, there’s William Bridges, Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes (2004). Severe workplace bullying or mobbing is a life-changing experience, and for many, it involves leaving their job and place of employment. It can have long-term effects on careers and livelihoods. In sum, it involves transitions. And while these life changes can be terribly difficult, they’re better than being stuck in place. Hence, I strongly recommend Bridges’s excellent book as a guide for forging and comprehending that path.