The 6 types of mobbing or workplace harassment - psychology - 2023



Workplace harassment (mobbing) is a reality that is increasingly studied and recognized. Nevertheless, it can still be difficult to identify mobbing where it occurs, especially considering that this form of harassment does not always present the same characteristics.

The different types of mobbing sometimes cause this phenomenon to be camouflaged or even interpreted as something that falls within normalcy. After all, where this form of harassment occurs, there are interests in that what happens cannot be used before a judge, and this means that in each type of work environment these attacks are adapted to the circumstances.

Nevertheless, distinguishing the different types of mobbing is not impossible. In this article we will review them, but first we will see an example that will serve to recognize the characteristics of this kind of bullying.

A history of workplace harassment

Cristobal He was a highly valued worker by his company dedicated to tourism, as he responded effectively to any problem that might arise in dealing with customers. He was disciplined, responsible, and even worked overtime; simply because he enjoyed his work. He was an employee that any entrepreneur would want to have on their team, so he quickly rose within his organization to become the airport area manager.

He had been with the company for three years and there were no complaints about him for his good professional work, but everything changed for him from the fourth year due to the restructuring that his company had undergone, in which the director had changed. Apparently, Cristóbal was not to his liking, probably because he hardly knew him and he had not hired him.

Changes in the company

After his arrival, the new director accused him of working little, of being macho without any basis (due to a conflict with an employee who was trusted by the director and in which Cristóbal was right) and decided that he should carry out tasks they weren't productive at all. In addition, the fifth year he decided to place a supervisor who was hierarchically above him. It must be said that the supervisor was not competent enough, since he did not know how to work in such a company.

It was Cristóbal himself who had to teach him how to do the job effectively. The director's strategy was to keep Cristóbal under control, something that was unnecessary since the levels of customer satisfaction in his work area were the best in the company in the entire Spanish territory. The mission was clear: to demotivate Cristóbal so that he presented the voluntary discharge and thus left the company.

At different specific moments, the director accused Cristóbal of creating a bad environment at work without having any proof of it. Simply to agree with his trusted men. And, in addition, he made up lies to discredit his good professional work.

The result was that Cristóbal decided to leave work due to the psychological damage to which he had been subjected. As a victim of mobbing, he tried to defend himself on several occasions until, as a result of the emotional exhaustion he had reached with this situation, he resigned to continue in the company.

Mobbing: a reality in the workplace

The example above is a case of mobbing, also known as workplace harassment. A phenomenon that occurs in the workplace, and in which an individual or several exercise psychological violence in a systematic and repeated way on another individual or individuals, for an extended period of time.

Stalkers they can be co-workers, superiors or subordinates, and this behavior can affect workers of any type of company.

In addition, on many occasions it is a matter of confusing the victim into believing that she is the culprit of everything that happens, sometimes reaching question the sanity of those who suffer everything. This phenomenon, known as Gaslighting, is very common in cases of partner abuse, but it also occurs in workplace bullying. One of its effects is that the victim is paralyzed and anchored in doubts, which makes it possible to continue with flagrant injustices.

The effects of bullying

Attacks suffered in the workplace can cause serious psychological problems in the victim or victims (for example, anxiety, depression, stress), job demotivation, disturbance in the performance of their work and, in most cases, a damage to its reputation. The more this situation persists, worse is the discomfort that is generated.

Types of mobbing

Mobbing can be classified in two ways: according to hierarchical position or according to objective. What are these types of workplace harassment? They are summarized below:

1. Workplace harassment according to hierarchical position

Depending on the hierarchical position, mobbing can be:

1.1. Horizontal mobbing

This type of mobbing it is characterized because the harasser and the victim are in the same hierarchical rank. That is, it usually occurs between co-workers, and the psychological repercussions for the victim can be devastating.

The causes of this type of workplace harassment can be many and varied, although the most common are: to force a worker to comply with certain rules, out of enmity, to attack the weakest, because of differences with the victim, or because of lack work and boredom.

1.2. Vertical mobbing

Vertical workplace harassment receives this name because either the harasser is in a hierarchical level higher than the victim or is lower than the victim. Therefore, there are two kinds of vertical mobbing: ascending and descending.

  • Upward mobbing: Occurs when an employee of a higher hierarchical level is attacked by one or more of his subordinates.
  • Downward mobbing or bossing: It occurs when an employee of a lower hierarchical level receives psychological harassment from one or more employees who occupy positions higher in the hierarchy of the company. As we have seen in the case of Cristóbal, it can be carried out as a business strategy to get the harassed worker to leave the company.

2. Workplace harassment according to the objective

Depending on the objectives that the harasser intends to achieve with the mobbing, this can be classified as follows:

2.1. Strategic mobbing

This is a type of top down or “institutional” bullying. It is characterized because mobbing is part of the company's strategy, and the objective is usually for the harassed to voluntarily terminate their contract. In this way, the company does not have to pay the compensation that would correspond to it for unfair dismissal.

2.2. Direction or management mobbing

This type of mobbing is carried out by the organization's management, generally for several reasons: to dispense with a worker who is not very submissive, to reach situations of labor slavery or to end a worker who does not meet the expectations of the boss (for example, because he is too trained or to expose him) .

In addition, this type of workplace harassment can be carried out to maximize the productivity of the company through fear, using repeated threats of dismissal in case of not meeting work objectives.

2.3. Perverse mobbing

Perverse workplace harassment refers to a type of mobbing that does not have a work objective, but the causes are found in the manipulative personality and harassing the stalker. It is a very harmful type of mobbing because the causes that produce the harassment cannot be solved by implementing other work dynamics as long as the person who harasses continues in the organization or is not reeducated.

This type of stalker usually carries out the mobbing in front of the victim, without witnesses. He is very seductive and quickly gains the trust of others. It is common for perverse mobbing to be horizontal or ascending mobbing.

2.4. Disciplinary mobbing

This type of mobbing is used so that the harassed person understands that he must "enter the mold", because if you don't you will be punished. But this type of harassment not only instills fear in the victims, but also warns other colleagues of what could happen to them if they act like this, creating a work environment in which no one dares to oppose the superior.

It is also used against those people who have many sick leave, pregnant women, and all those who report the fraud of the institution (for example, the accountant who witnesses bribes by the company).