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Mobbing: Psychological harassment at work

Updated: Apr 20, 2020

Studies conducted by observation of animals, mainly birds, identified violent behavior in species with greatest power and strength, which in a way was identified as threatening by vulnerable species. In humans, these behavior are similarly attributed to other animals, but their difference is defined by psychological issues that affect the lives of the individual in all aspects of theirs live. Mobbing is defined as the phenomenon in which a person or group of persons exercising extreme psychological violence, systematic and scheduled, for a long time - for more than six months and when the attacks recur at an average rate of 2 times week - on another person in the workplace, in order to destroy the victim's communication networks, destroy their reputation, disrupt the execution of their work and finally get this individual or individuals leave the workplace.

Types of Mobbing

Ascendant: Occurs when an upper hierarchy of individual finds himself assaulted by his subordinates. Horizontal: Occurs when two or more individuals at the same hierarchical level emit aggressive behavior, even that these individual behaviors are not characterized as group behavior, which also has its own identity. Descending: Occurs when a lower hierarchy of individual finds himself abused by their superiors.

Phases of the Mobbing • Conflict: It is characterized by the emergence of discussions between people who do not have the same goals and interests. • Mobbing or stigmatization: Characterized by Stalker practice itself, to put into practice their strategies to humiliate the victim, in order to ridicule and socially isolate him/her for a long time. • Intervention in the company: It is characterized by the understanding on the part of the company related to the conflict in question. Where the company can opt for a positive solution, relocating employees involved or the negative solution, that addresses a uncomprehending solution of the case due to a little research and facing the victim as the problem to be tackled.

The context of Mobbing may be understood in similar ways in different cultures. Psychological harassment at work is not only a problem in certain countries but a widespread phenomenon, occurring as a result of situations. Studies conducted by the National Occupational Health and Institute (NIOSH, 2003) in the United States in 1992 shows that the total cost of workplace violence, was $ 4 million, among other studies. It appears that not just because an altruistic and humanistic question but economic, the "Mobbing" became a scientific object of study, in order to reduce costs and thus improve the environment for organizations. Mobbing is characterized by factors involving psychosocial risks related to the work environment. It generates negative consequences to individuals attacked, reducing their psychological and physical health. Negative symptoms of "Mobbing" are often linked to stress, apathy, tension, depression, anxiety, irritability, antisocial behavior, drug addiction and alcohol, suicide, psychosomatic (skin, digestive and cardiovascular problems), among others.

How to prevent and treat Mobbing? • Creating organizational cultures that minimize it. • Management and leadership training. • Facilitating communication of all the employees. • Climate research. As a conclusion, Mobbing is an issue that nowadays should be taken into a discussion and placed on the agenda in organizations, because in many cases the occurrence is extremely hidden due to fear of the affected from exposure or harm their jobs. It is up to professionals of Human Resources and Social Sciences into the organizations, turn their attention to the subject, facilitating the communication among all the hierarchic level employees, to preserve the healthiness of individuals and the own organization.

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