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The 6 types of mobbing or workplace harassment

The 6 types of mobbing or workplace harassment

May 6, 2021

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

The different types of mobbing cause that, at times, this phenomenon is camouflaged or even interpreted as something that falls within normality. After all, wherever this form of harassment occurs there are interests in which what happens can not be used before a judge, and this means that in each type of work environment these attacks adapt to the circumstances.

But nevertheless, distinguish the different types of mobbing is not impossible . In this article we will review them, but before we will see an example that will serve to recognize the characteristics of this kind of harassment.


A history of workplace harassment

Cristobal He was a worker highly valued 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 had extra hours; simply because he enjoyed his work. He was an employee that any businessman would want to have on his team, so he was quickly promoted within his organization to be placed as head of airport area.

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


Changes in the company

After his arrival, the new director accused him of working little, of being sexist without any foundation (because of a conflict with an employee that was of the director's trust and in which Cristóbal was right) and decided that he should carry out tasks that were not productive at all In addition, the fifth year decided to place a supervisor who was hierarchically above him. It must be said that the supervisor was not competent enough, because 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 have Cristóbal controlled, something that was unnecessary since the levels of customer satisfaction in his area of ​​work were the best in the company throughout the Spanish territory. The mission was clear: demotivating Cristóbal to present the voluntary resignation and thus leave the company.


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

The result was that Cristóbal decided to leave the job because of the psychological damage to which he had been subjected . As a victim of mobbing, he tried to defend himself several times until, as a result of the emotional exhaustion that had come with this situation, he resigned to remain in the company.

Mobbing: a reality present in the workplace

The example above is a case of mobbing, also known as workplace bullying. A phenomenon that occurs in the workplace, and in which an individual or others systematically and repeatedly exert psychological violence about another individual or individuals, over a prolonged 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, in many cases it is a question of confusing the victim so that she believes that she is the culprit of everything that happens, sometimes reaching question the sound judgment of who suffers everything . This phenomenon, known as Gaslighting, is very common in cases of maltreatment, but also occurs in workplace harassment. One of its effects is that the victim is paralyzed and anchored in the doubts, which makes it possible to continue with flagrant injustices.

The effects of harassment

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

Types of mobbing

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

one.Workplace harassment according to the 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 tends to occur between co-workers, and the repercussions at the psychological level 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, by enmity, to attack the weakest, by differences with the victim, or by lack of work and boredom.

1.2. Vertical mobbing

Vertical workplace bullying receives this name because either the bully is at a higher level than the victim or is at a lower level than the victim . Therefore, there are two types 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.
  • Descending mobbing or bossing : Occurs when an employee of lower hierarchical level receives psychological harassment by one or more employees who occupy higher positions 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. Labor harassment according to the objective

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

2.1. Strategic mobbing

This is a type of downward or "institutional" harassment . It is characterized because mobbing is part of the company's strategy, and the objective is usually that the harassed person rescinds his contract voluntarily. In this way, the company does not have to pay the compensation that would correspond to unfair dismissal.

2.2. Mobbing of management or management

This type of mobbing is carried out by the management of the organization , usually for several reasons: to dispense with a worker who is not very submissive, to arrive at situations of labor slavery or to end up with a worker who does not conform to the expectations of the boss (for example, by being too trained or to leave him in evidence) .

In addition, this type of workplace harassment can be carried out to maximize the company's productivity through fear, employing repeated threats of dismissal in case of non-compliance with work objectives.

2.3. Perverse Mobbing

Perverse workplace harassment refers to a type of mobbing that does not have a labor objective, but the causes are in the manipulative personality and harasser of the harasser. It is a type of mobbing very harmful because the causes that produce the harassment can not be solved by implementing other work dynamics while the person who harasses is in the organization or not re-educated.

This type of stalker usually carries out the mobbing in front of the victim, without witnesses. It is very seductive and quickly gets the trust of others. It is common for perverse mobbing to be a 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 he does not, he will be punished. But with this type of harassment not only fear is infused in the victims, but it also warns the other comrades of what could happen to them to act like this, creating a work environment in which nobody dares to contradict the superior.

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

Bibliographic references:

  • Piñuel, I. (2003).Mobbing: how to survive psychological harassment at work. Ed. Reading Point. Madrid.

The Four Workplace Bully Types (May 2021).


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