Mediation for bullying

(20 Posts)
Mediationornot Mon 08-Apr-13 00:04:42

I have been bullied at work. Mediation has been suggested and I have suggested I'm agreeable to this but frankly feel terrified. I've tried to analyse why the terror and its because I just think this individual will bully me more (it's subtle insidious stuff as well as outright nasty verbal stuff.)

(HR and manager have witnessed it and acknowledge its unacceptable behaviour)

I know mediation is good etc however there is huge pressure on me to make the mediation work because the bully is holding something over the employer (can't go into what) The bully is insisting that they work alone with me again (I honestly have no idea why, other than its a control thing now? That on its own is all a little weird but control is a big part of this persons character).

I have suggested alternatives...a work location with other people present or removed from the situation. Other location has been refused on organisational grounds (there isn't one in right location for specific equipment and not enough room for other staff to be brought in)

Unfortunately (or not??) I have a particular skill that they need. The bully does not have any skill in this area at all, but such is their hold (legal issue) over the employer they call the shots and my employer is sympathetic but needs me to fix this for them.

I can turn around and refuse mediation, under bullying policy, but its probably professional suicide. I feel I should try. My skill is niche and another job will not be easy to find. (They need me as much as I need them)

HR and manager are really pressurising me to fix this for them (that bully and I work together alone) however ....if mediation 'works' I envisage a break down of the truce and no support so I'm almost in a worse situation than I am now. It's been months already so I don't feel able to cope with many weeks of this.

I have considered
a) resigning, losing my house and destitution smile
b) refusing, feel like my work life would be fouled and a) would become inevitable
c) attempting mediation
d) other

C) my issues are... because of this hold on them, my employers will not protect me in future. So I thought maybe agreeing to mediation but only if the HR lead and manager who are piling pressure on me, join in as well.

Likely solution or not?

Mediationornot Mon 08-Apr-13 00:06:35

That smile is really a hysterical nervous laugh

Earlybird Mon 08-Apr-13 00:14:23

Sounds as if the bully is bullying your employer - and using the legal issue as leverage.

Where would the mediator come from? Is it a one time meeting, or a series?

What would happen if you agreed to mediation, but refused to work alone again with the bully? Do you and/or your boss really have no power over this person?

Earlybird Mon 08-Apr-13 00:18:02

Could the bully go work at another location? If bully has no particular skills, why can't they be reassigned elsewhere - i.e., somewhere you are not?

guffaw Mon 08-Apr-13 00:24:27

this sounds like a horrible situation

in my limited experience, mediation starts with mediator seeing both parties seperately, asking for your perspective, hopes for and fears about the mediation process, then asks you if you are ok with it going ahead, they decide if mediation is suitable for the situation, after seeing both of you.

you can say that you feel unsafe to enter into mediation with the other person, and say why.

I'd also speak to union re. lack of protection from employers - they have responsibilities towards you - get it recorded, so you can refer back if situation deteriorates.

awful as it is to do, record and date every look, comment, sigh, etc.. from the other person, and the context, because you may need these details, and you do forget.

very best of luck with this.

Mediationornot Mon 08-Apr-13 00:27:24

There is another issue ongoing and employers are trying to resolve that. If I refuse to work with bully, the bully will have leverage with the other issue. So what is my view in some ways, because I've been collateral damage to the other issue just because of my proximity at work.

Tbh I think I have every right to just refuse but it's the impact on my career I'm trying to mitigate . I strongly suspect HR and bully can't resolve their differences and to avoid an expensive legal situation will look for a way out and I might be their casualty. I honestly have done nothing wrong, clean employment record, good work record so should feel safe...but I don't. I don't trust either HR, manager or the bully.

I'm not normally paranoid...honest

Mediationornot Mon 08-Apr-13 00:31:08

I have no union Hindsight is a wonderful thing....

Redeploying the bully is not an option because they are forcibly refusing. I do wonder if they have a personality disorder because this behaviour is inexplicable to me. Why not move, especially as our joint employer is keen to work with them on these rather than go down a tribunal route.

Mediation - I have not been given details. Originally they said it would be a third boss which set off HUGE alarm bells for me but I think it will be external company and it sounded as if they would start with both together

Mediationornot Mon 08-Apr-13 00:33:48

It's a horrible situation and I feel physically sick and shaky at the thought of being in a room with the bully. I don't think anyone understands because I am a very confident successful professional. I'm very good at my job. Why is this affecting me so badly sad

Earlybird Mon 08-Apr-13 00:35:31

I wonder if you will have any time alone with the mediator, and if so, whether you can be honest about the 'true' situation.

Mediationornot Mon 08-Apr-13 00:37:20

If I have time alone I would be honest

If it's in their company I won't expose myself (vulnerability) in any way whatsoever.

Mediationornot Mon 08-Apr-13 00:40:22

I need to try and sleep now. I anticipate a pressuring visit tomorrow so need to be alert

Will reply tomorrow if anyone has anymore ideas!

Still keen for an answer on the group mediation as an option?

Earlybird Mon 08-Apr-13 00:47:11

Have you ever stood up to the bully, and if so, what happened? Easier said than done, I know. Some bullies back right off if they perceive their 'victim' is no longer weak and/or afraid.

I was bullied for a long time at work, and it is horrible. It was years ago - more than a decade ago - but I still have fantasies about what I wish I had said/done. Fwiw - the people who avoided the sharp tongue of 'my' bully were either people he admired (he was insecure about his intellect, so liked those he perceived as intellectual), people who talked/shouted back and weren't afraid (he seemed to admire those with the gumption to stand up to him), or those who shamed him (spoke to him as if he was a badly behaved child.......'stop it. You're making yourself look foolish' sort of comments would slow him right down).

Being in a situation like yours is tremendously draining and debilitating for a person's confidence. Yours sounds llke a truly toxic situation, and in your shoes, I think I'd be methodically planning my departure.

Barkyboots Mon 08-Apr-13 01:02:18

I don't post very often but felt compelled to in response to you OP, as I'm going through a very similar situation to you, and I too am rather at a loss as to what to do. I really sympathise. Totally empathise with what you say about feeling 'sick and shaky' at the thought of being in a room with this individual, and like you, am a professional, good at my job and so I feel people around me have very little understanding of why this situation has affected me so badly. Can you maybe try to clarify what your options are? I'm still unclear what my options are if I refuse to go to mediation. You seem to be imagining various possible things that may happen but can you clarify? That's what I plan to do. I think your idea of group mediation is probably unlikely to be acceptable, as that would probably 'skew' things in terms of the two key parties being mediated by a neutral third party. I think part of the point of mediation is that the organisation takes a step back from the process and a third party is employed to try and help reach a resolution. We can discuss further by PM if you want.

Hmm. You can point out that if the two of you are working alone, then you are in a very vulnerable situation, given that it is acknowledged that he is indeed currently bullying. I don't see how anyone could think that could be worked around.

Unless, and I would seriously suggest this as solution (shows you are being flexible), your time together could be video recorded, to be used as evidence if he starts playing up. Should be hard for him to disagree with - he's not going to be unpleasant, so there's no cost to him is there? If he talks about 'trust' you can point out that this is missing because of his previous behaviour. Good luck.

fuckwittery Mon 08-Apr-13 01:58:02

I'm a mediator although I don't do workplace mediation.
The mediator will assess you both separately for suitability to mediate. You need to explain your fears and the bullying and it is possible to have shuttle mediation where you are in separate rooms, if you really don't think you can be in a room together, or it doesn't feel comfortable.

Mediationornot Mon 08-Apr-13 07:33:12

In order of posts

Yes I have stood up to the bully. I feel I know the behaviour well and it's a case of pick your battles. Bully likes to control but doesn't openly confront if you make them think they've made the decision. In our work role I've had to clearly say (as the expert) this is what is happening here. Rarely do I do this because I usually steer them with other behavioural stuff. I feel this new situation has arisen because HR have undermined me.

Barkyboots. I have considered refusal to attend. Possibly they'd just say oh okay... But recent events have made me think they have backed themselves into a corner and I'm their way out. As if its like chess and the failure of mediation will be their winning move. Pin the blame on me. However you make a good point and frankly what can they do?

I think I feel huge injustice and being put through this through no fault of mine. I also feel its been very badly managed and I'm going to be the casualty and take the blame for others management!

Thanks fuckwittery. I'll bear that in mind although one of the things that I think would stop me feeling like that is trust in the manager and HR to support me following mediation.

I've not been through this before, and it sounds awful for you OP. I think I'd be talking to HR about expectations and reassurances. You say they need you to go into mediation, then I'd make them work for it. I'd be asking them for a clear explanation, in writing, of exactly what is entailed, how the process works, what is expected of you, and what reassurances they can make that you won't be left high and dry afterwards, and how they plan to enforce this. I would be looking at this as their chance to fix things, it is not your responsibilty to fix this for them. If you don't feel you can be in the same room as the bully, then tell them so, and they will have to work around that. There's no shame in that, you didn't make this situation, you've had it dumped on you.

MediatingDP Mon 08-Apr-13 08:51:40

My DP is a workplace mediator - his first question when I read him your OP was whether your colleague has agreed to mediation already? Does the bully actually want things to change?

He can tell very early on whether both parties actually want to resolve the issue or whether one or both want the conflict to continue; he has ended mediation sessions in that situation and advised the employer that the situation is 'unmediable'.

He did say that if your employer has accepted that you are being bullied, but are refusing to do anything about it, they are leaving themselves open to tribunal action if you eventually leave - CAB can advise you about your options.

Mediationornot Mon 08-Apr-13 18:10:09

Thank you smile

Good advice re reassurances and expectations in writing

I think that he has agreed to mediation because I have absolutely refused to let him back without. Having said that I'm trying to be open to the idea they may want to change.

I think no one wins in employment tribunals personally so although its an option it's not one I wish to be facing.

Witco Mon 08-Apr-13 19:42:47

I am a mediator and, while the ideal is to get both parties into one room, you can be in different rooms to begin with. When you meet with your mediator initially you can discuss your fears with him/her and take it from there. Good luck!

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