May 15, 2006


'...On the issue of mediation, there is a practical consideration that needs attention. To what depth or degree will mediation be attempted in helping to resolve reported cases of psychological harassment? In our considered opinion, it would have to be very early on, likely before the label of psychological harassment or emotional abuse is invoked, to have the greatest chance of success. As we have pointed out in this review, targets remain likely victims of additional abuse once they report the mistreatment. Indeed, they are very reluctant to do so, knowing full well that retaliation is possible. Moreover, as most conflict experts would warn, mediation has limits in effectiveness depending on the dynamics of the conflict (Donnellong & Kolb, 1994; Keashly & Fisher, 1990; Rayner, 1999; Zapf & Gross, 2001). Situations that are advanced, emotionally charged, and characterized by heightened levels of intensity are difficult candidates for mediation. At such times, an important first step is ending the opportunity for harm, e.g., separation, and then investigating the situation...'

From: Emotional Abuse: How the Concept Sheds Light on the Understanding of Psychological Harassment (in Quebec), Steve Harvey and Loraleigh Keashly, in Pistes, Vol. 3, No 3, November 2005

'...At an individual level, it is clear from the above analysis that in most circumstances where hierarchical workplace bullying occurs, that individual counseling and mediation sessions will not adequately address the issue. We need to recognise some people who bully do so in full knowledge of the power they exercise and the knowledge their actions enjoy immunity from scrutiny or reprisal because of their location within the system and because they understand and manipulate the system to their advantage. There is a need for affirmative action that privileges the account of those who have been disempowered and degraded by virtue of simply doing their job. In addition, the individual who has been targeted needs to be encouraged to delink serial episodes of workplace bullying, for to see them as cumulative inevitably leads to selfblame and recrimination (Namie, 2002)...'

From: Mental health and workplace bullying: The role of power, professions and on the job training, Lyn Turney, AeJAMH, Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2003

The first quote above assumes that early intervention through mediation can have a positive outcome. However, I tend to agree more with the second statement. How is it possible to mediate with the bullies when we know they do not accept responsibility for their actions, they have no ethics? As for the academic managers, how likely are they to demonstrate empathy with the target, have awareness of what constitutes bullying and then encourage and support early intervention through mediation? I would agree that there is a need for affirmative action that privileges the target.

  • Lesson learnt: Mediation involving an external independent arbitrator is very rarely offered. Internal mediation is not likely to work between the target and the bully, because the former is already at a disadvantage.

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