Psychological harassment may occur at all levels of the organizational hierarchy. It may manifest itself between work colleagues; individuals in a position of authority may harass subordinates or vice-versa. The harassment situation may involve individuals or a group. The presumed harasser may also come from outside the enterprise. In this case, the harasser may be a customer, a user, a supplier or a visitor.
In addition to the individuals directly involved in the harassment situation, there are the witnesses. The role that witnesses of a psychological harassment situation play in maintaining or ending this behaviour is important. Indeed, collectively, they can contribute to ending or perpetuating the climate of fear and silence that is closely linked to a harassment situation. When it becomes necessary to intervene, the giving of their versions of the facts can make a significant difference between aggravating and putting a stop to the situation.
The behaviours involved in psychological harassment are multiple, insidious and usually associated with underlying aggression.
Harassment may take many forms such as:
The many faces of psychological harassment at work
Psychological harassment may occur at all levels of the hierarchy: between colleagues, by superiors against subordinates or vice-versa. Both individuals and groups may be concerned. The harasser may also be outside the enterprise. It may be a customer, a user, a supplier or a visitor.
Witnesses also play a role in a psychological harassment situation. Collectively, they may contribute to ending or maintaining the climate of fear and silence that is closely linked to harassment. By giving their version of the facts, they can prevent the conflict from escalating and help put a stop to it.
The consequences of psychological harassment on individuals are numerous and insidious. They are often denied or trivialized. The person being harassed is not the only person who must cope with the consequences. His friends and family suffer, as do the persons who witness the situation.
All of the people affected go through a range of feelings and emotions. Without an appropriate intervention in the workplace, the consequences of psychological harassment can degenerate to the point of causing the individuals in question: