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5 Signs You're Being 'Mobbed' At Work — And It Won't Be Long Before You're Gone

Photo: Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock
woman being mobbed at work

Workers in the U.S. generally spend at least 40 hours a week on the clock, if not more. Our work makes up a central part of our lives, and how we’re treated there has a huge impact on our mental health.

It’s common to believe that bullying ends after high school, but sometimes, those toxic behaviors extend into adulthood, playing out in the workplace, as well. One form of this bullying is called mobbing, which can be defined as a form of “workplace group aggression,” in which a group of people manipulates another person, “who’s usually a high performer,” into leaving. 

Being mobbed puts you at risk of losing your job, and it has negative effects on your mental health. But if you know what to look for, you can protect yourself from harm.

Here are 5 signs you’re being mobbed at work

1. Tone and style policing

Denise Conroy, a former CEO and CMO, uses her TikTok platform to share her experience in the corporate world. She defined mobbing as “a deliberate attempt to force a person out of a workplace by humiliation, general harassment, emotional abuse, and/or terror.”

   

   

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Conroy shared her personal experience with mobbing, detailing the various ways she was mobbed while working for HGTV.

She explained that one early sign of mobbing is when people police the way you communicate. “This is when people say to you, ‘I don’t like your tone. You’re too aggressive. I don’t like how you spoke to me.’” 

Exerting control over the way you talk is one way that people can try to frame your attitude and behavior in a negative light. 

2. Stalking your social media

This sign of mobbing goes hand-in-hand with style policing.

If your coworkers are constantly watching your social media presence and calling you out for posts that they think aren’t appropriate or in line with the corporate culture, they could be building a case against you as someone who doesn’t fit into the workplace. 

3. Gossiping

“Typically, when people are gossiping about you, you always have some lovely individual, maybe more than one, who will come back and tell you you’re being gossiped about,” Conroy said.

She shared the following guidance: “That person is never your friend.” She also advised, “Pay attention to who is gossiping about you, what’s being said, and document that.”

5 Signs You're Being Mobbed At Work Photo: Prostock-studio / Shutterstock

4. Picking on you for little things

Conroy said to be mindful when people comment on “really silly things that have zero to do with your job, that have zero to do with your professionalism, it literally is nitpicking you.”

By commenting on the way you look, the way you laugh, or even the way you answer questions and complete tasks, the person mobbing you is trying to cut you down and make you feel insecure and insignificant. No one can make us feel small without our consent, yet being tirelessly called out is bound to wear down even a very secure and self-assured person. 

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5. Twisting positive actions into negative intents

Another form of mobbing comes when someone tries to make your acts of kindness seem malicious.

Conroy offered an example, saying, “Let’s say I went out and bought flowers for all the administrative assistants in the office, just because I appreciated them. It’s people taking that, twisting it, and making it into something ugly, as opposed to me just being kind and thoughtful.”

According to Conroy, the best steps to take if you think you’re being mobbed at work is to document every incident and take that paper trail to your boss and the HR department. She recommended filing a formal complaint, with the caveat that management probably won’t act to help you. 

   

   

Groupthink is a powerful thing — a psychological tool that’s not always used for good purposes. People inherently want to belong to the in-group. If that belonging is contingent upon pushing someone else out, it’s likely that people, especially in a toxic work environment, will still go along with it. 

If you suspect you’re being pushed out at work, keeping documentation of that bullying is your best defense.

“If you’re someone who’s watching this happen, say something,” Conroy concluded. “If somebody’s picking on somebody [by] doing these things, say something. Stand up. That’s how we end this.”

Mobbing is one way to keep people down and force them to extricate themselves from a harmful situation. No matter what your job is, no matter how intense or competitive your role is, we all deserve to feel safe at work

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social issues, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.