OCTOBER 16 2007 22:14h
Behind arrogance, there is always impotence- says Jadranka Apostolovski.
-Workplace is the only remaining battlefield in the modern world where people can kill each other without the risk of being brought before justice- Heinz Leyman said once, famous for mobbing studies. Inspired by his statement, we talked with Jadranka Apostolovski, who has organised an association called Mobbing, together with her female colleagues and friends.
What is mobbing?
Mobbing is a specific form of behaviour at the workplace characterised by systematic psychological abuse or humiliation of a person performed by an individual or a group with a view of damaging his/her reputation, honour, human dignity and integrity until forcing him/her out of the workplace.
These activities occur at least once a week, during at least six months.
Such aggression is more or less an open assault on the integrity of the other person, characterised by insults, humiliation and violation of fundamental human rights. Aggression in a mobbing case is hard to prove because it is actually invisible, neglectable and disguised in `smart words and objective judgments`, still it is powerful and aimed action of an unfair way of thinking, Jadranka Apostolovski elaborated.
Who are the victims?
Jadranka told us that mobbing victims are most often shy persons who stand apart from their surroundings with something. This can be their hair style, clothes, skin colour, sexual orientation… The Mobbing association has determined over its course of working with mobbing victims that single parents of both genders are most often victims of mobbing behaviour.
Even though statistics show that persons without a University degree are most affected by mobbing, the association claims that only 4-5 percent of persons with a primary school degree contact them, around 34 percent of persons with secondary school education, and the remaining part are University graduates.
40-year-old Ana is a disabled person. She does not have a serious handicap, but she is marked because her face was disfigured after a pig attacked her. Still, she has not had any problems in communicating with other co-workers due to her handicap, apart from her superior. Her boss addresses her awkwardly every day, curses, throws things about if she does not like something…
One day, her boss had a very bad day and told Ana: “I would rather sit at a table with a swine then with you”. After this statement, Ana became very depressed. Still, with the help of the Mobbing association, she wrote a “letter to her employer”, who reacted and ordered the boss to apologise in front of everyone.
Vlado is a 58-year-old employee of a company where he worked for 26 years, until the mobbing started. He has not had any problems at work until then. Still, a new owner showed up one day, who decided to monitor his employees with video cameras.
Employees could not use the rest room, and Vlado decided to wash his hands once, after which his boss treated him horribly. After the incident, Vlado felt ill and has spent two years on sick-leave, he developed a line of psychosomatic disorders, and he never anted to return to his workplace, which is why he recently became a disabled pensioner, after his therapist`s recommendation.
Abusers – mobbers
To the question why someone becomes a mobber, Apostolovski had a clever answer:
- Behind arrogance, there is always impotence. These are most often powerful persons who want more power. Mobbers often have a decreased sense for love, joy, play, giving, creativity… They often disguise impotence in some other part of their lives by abusing others-.
Consequences of mobbing
Consequences of mobbing are actually similar to consequences of long-term exposure to great stress and pressure because mobbing causes it. Jadranka Apostolovski told us that mobbing can lead to death in the end. She personally came across two cases like these. One was a man who worked as psychiatrist, and after being a victim of mobbing for a long time, he dropped dead upon a meeting with colleagues. Similar thing happened to a Croatian journalist.
-You have nobody to accuse of murder in such situations. If a person has had health problems, mobbing is surely what was the proverbial straw and deteriorated someone`s health to the end- said Apostolovski.
Chronic fatigue, indigestion, being overweight or loosing weight, decreased immunity or various painful syndromes are physical consequences of mobbing.
Apart from physical consequences, mobbing leaves marks on the victim`s psyche, which can be: depression, burn-out syndrome, emotional emptiness, sense of loosing the meaning of life, anxiety, motivation loss, enthusiasm loss, apathy, adjustment disorder, insomnia, increased need for alcohol, sedatives or cigarettes…
Jadranka, who was a mobbing victim herself, told us she felt so bad at one point that she would only sleep, and when she could not sleep, she cried. I felt like a plan which was dieing- Jadranka said.
-Mobbing leads you to a state I call “large balloon phenomenon”, which is about to burst- Apostolovski reveals.
Jadranka Apostolovski is one of the founders and active volunteers of the Mobbing association which began working in April 2004. The association`s goal is to sensibilise the public to the problems of mobbing and offers education and help to its victims.
After all the bad experiences, Jadranka is trying to teach the public, based on her own experience and knowledge, but with the help of other experts and the motto she works under is: “People are irrational, illogical and selfish – it does not matter, love them!